Monday, 15 September 2008

Odd Socks

As I search through my sock drawer, I realise that I will have to wear odd socks, today. I bought 10 pairs, a few months ago, from Boots on a 2 for 1 offer. I bought them to wear with my jeans, to replace my old, black ones, which were beginning to wear thin. The new ones were all dark colours, but distinctly different. Some were black with grey toes and heels, some were grey, with a black pattern, some were black with a grey pattern. Even my husband would have noticed, if I'd mixed them up with his dark, plain man socks. Somehow, 2 of my distinctive socks have gone missing and today, I will have to wear a black one with a grey toe and heel and a grey one with a black pattern. I've been able to manage without wearing my odd socks, up until now, but my youngest son has gone back to university again, and without his dark clothes, I don't have enough dark washing to make up a load. I haven't got used to the idea, yet.

It's a sad time of year for a lot of mothers, whose sons or daughters are going off to university, leaving a gap behind them, which, somehow, can never be filled. It is my youngest son's second year at university, but I am finding his absence harder to deal with this year. My eldest son moved out 3 weeks ago and my middle son, as well as working 7 days a week, is now spending most of his time at his new girlfriend's house.

I always assumed that my 3 sons would leave home one at a time, over a period of a few years, as there is a gap of 6 years between the eldest and youngest, but, instead, they have gone over a period of a few weeks. Middle son and youngest son haven't moved out totally, of course, but it certainly feels that way, at the moment.

My husband and I helped my eldest son and his girlfriend to move into their rented house, which is about 30 minutes' travelling distance away from us, but we've heard very little from them since. They came over when we had a barbecue, a couple of weeks ago and we've taken some of eldest son's belongings over on a couple of occasions, but that's all that we've seen of them, so far. Eldest son became less and less comunicative when he reached adolescence, about 12 years ago, so, in recent years, I began to realise that, when he did finally move out, it was unlikely that he would bother too much about keeping in touch.

Suddenly, we have 3 spare bedrooms and the house, which was once full to overflowing with people and voices, is now mainly empty and still. When darkness falls, only a solitary room is illuminated in a house which once exploded with light, on the skyline.

I pull on my odd socks, go downstairs to the kitchen and switch on the radio. I turn the volume up a little louder than it needs to be, whilst I half fill the washing machine with dark clothing. I must go to Boots, later, to buy some more socks.


aims said...

Oh Sweetie!

You know I've never had children - never was able to - so I haven't gone through this.

I've read all over blogland the weepings of mothers as their children either start school or go back. The collective loss and sadness of mothers amazes me.

However - I don't think I've read one as poignant as yours today. It made me sad and lonely too!

I am alone all day long but I fill my days with so much work that it flies past. I've taken to listening to books on tape through headphones as I work. It's another voice in the silence besides the one I hear in my head.

Anonymous said...

They are enjoying their new found freedom at the moment, but surely it won't be too long before thoughts of home cooked food, motherly love and someone else to do the ironing will start to lure them into visiting more often....

Irene said...

It's the socks that make you feel lonely and redundant, aren't they?

Mean Mom said...

aims - So sorry to have affected you in this way! As if you haven't had enough sadness in your life! My everyday life is affected in so many ways by the absence of my sons. It is the silly little things, which catch me off my guard. I don't want to be the clingy, needy mother. When I do see them, I act casually, when, really I would like to fling my arms around them and wail a lot!

I am an only child and I loved having my family. Not all the time, of course. Let's not paint too rosy a picture.

I hope that I will get used to them being absent. I have plenty to do, but I find the worst times are when I have to do the tedious household chores. Even when I am with other people, I still feel bereft, at the moment. I do like those books on tape, but the radio is my favourite.

Mean Mom said...

mud in the city - Those things are certainly true for my youngest son, who likes to come home to be looked after. I'm not sure how things will turn out, with the older 2 lads, to be honest. I suspected that the eldest would drift away, as he has been 'difficult' at times. The middle one is a very loving son, until he finds a girlfriend and then he totally forgets that we exist!! We never complain, of course. We want him to be happy and he has no idea that we miss him so much. He has to make his own life, but we would quite like to be a small part of it, if possible!!

irene - It's the little things that highlight the situation. I focus on my socks, but it's not really what I'm sad about. Did you wonder why I was rabbiting on about my socks? Lost socks - lost family.

scrappysue said...

i have 4 daughters, and i CANNOT imagine a time when the house will be silent with no children, after years of a house filled with my own children and their friends! i know you will adjust (as all mothers do!) but it surely is a very emotional time for you.

go buy some bright floral sox to celebrate this new phase in your life!!!

cyber hugs :)

Suburbia said...

This is very sad and I fear it will come to me in a blink of an eye. We spend so much time trying to plam them off when they're small and then just when they become interesting people, they buggar off!
At least they haven't all gone completely and you know, just as you get to like being a little quieter again, one or other of them will show up again, and probably not alone either!
I am an only child too. I love time on my own now, but that's because it doesn't happen very often.
Glad to have you back blogging again :)

Mignon said...

I am not quite at this point in my life. Im a few years away, but it will be here before I know it. So I am taking notes. BUT...My sister and a friend had kids and went lonley for a bit until the grandkids came along. Now it's like having kids all over again. But this time without so much stress.
I say enjoy the silence when you can because once the grandchildren are born you will be busy again.
Nice to hear from you.Peace..

(Very) Lost in France said...

Mean Mom, my brother, sister and I did the same. Despite a 7 year age gap we all left home at the same time and it was hard on my Mum and Dad after years of a houseful of kids, friends and random hangers on. It took a while but they did get used to it. Having a blog browse at the moment so I can't remember how I found you. Glad I did though. VLiF

Mean Mom said...

scrappysue - It has been 25 years since my husband and I were alone in the house. You are right. Not only do you miss your children, you also miss their friends, drifting in and out.

I might buy some bright coloured socks, just for a change! Thanks for the hugs. I feel a little better!

suburbia - It's true. It only seems a minute since they were young and it seemed as if we would have them forever. I somehow feel as if I should have made more of it, but, at the same time, I know that I enjoyed it as much as I possibly could. It wasn't easy, at times, with the 3 of them, but I gave it my all. At times we were happy and at times I despaired, but I certainly wouldn't have missed the experience, for anything.

mignon - Unfortunately, you are right, the time will soon come around when they are ready to leave home. At least you are blogging and will have more of a record of your time with your family. I feel that I have forgotten so many things and I do wish that I had, at least occasionally, kept a diary.

It would be nice to have grandchildren, but not just yet, I hope, as none of them are in a position to afford children. It's nice to be back amongst everyone, again. I have a lot of catching up to do.

(very) lost in france - Thanks for your comment and for visiting me.

Oh, you cruel, heartless things! It can't be helped, though, can it? This is the way it goes and when children are ready to go, they have to leave. We only look after them until they are ready to look after themselves. It doesn't make it any easier, however and I hope that I do get used to things, sooner, rather than later.

Robin said...

mean Mom - Welcome back, I missed you. My oldest son in in his second year of college too. This year when he left I have really missed him. (Last year I didn't miss him after the hellacious senior year of high school.) Some day my house will be too quiet too, although I can't always remember that with all the yelling and balls being kicked into the house etc.

auntiegwen said...

I am still at the stage where i live in a house of mess, noise and chaos but my friend's son went to Uni on Sunday and she is now living alone for the first time in her adult life. She feels very low.

M children all frefer to wear odd socks, I now don't even attempt to pair them after washing !!!

Glad to see you back xx

Mean Mom said...

robin - Thanks! It's nice to be back. I hope I can keep it up, this time. My blogging seems to have been a bit sporadic!

I hadn't realised that you had a son at college. I must have managed to miss that somewhere along the way. Now I am wondering what was so awful about his last year in senior school! Perhaps there is a clue or 2 if I go back in your blog. Yes, I do miss the heavy metal booming out of 3 different bedrooms, now that it is no longer there. Although I enjoyed (but very occasionally hated!) all of the noise and comings and goings, it seemed as if it would go on forever. I didn't see the end of it coming. It was all very sudden and total and I didn't have time to prepare.

auntiegwen - I don't miss the mess, to be honest, but I do miss the noise and chaos. It's difficult to explain why it's good fun, but it is isn't it? It makes you feel alive, part of something and needed.

I do feel for your friend and for every other single parent who is currently in the same position. It must be very hard for them.

I also had to stop pairing everyone's socks. It took far too long!

Maggie May said...

I understand entirely how you are feeling. I have been there many times. And kids can cause heartbreak no matter what age.
I do feel with sons that they do come back if you carry on loving them & supporting them. Even if its from afar! It is not easy being a mum, is it?
Glad you are back. I missed you!

Mean Mom said...

maggie may - Thanks, maggie! I don't know what will happen, now, to be honest. I have noticed that daughters come back, particularly when they have children. I'm not so sure about sons, however. It doesn't seem as acceptable for a boy to stay close to his mother. I have a few older friends whose daughters have turned to them for support, after having children, but not to their mother-in-laws!! I'm just hoping that my experience will prove to be different!

blogthatmama said...

Mean Mom I shivered when I read that post, I have to agree with aims it was so poignant, particularly as I've just had a big argument with Danny Boy. Time passes really quickly doesn't it? Blogthatmamax

Mean Mom said...

blogthatmama - The passing of time is relentless. I had never really thought much about how it would be when my family started to move out. I thought my eldest son, in particular, would be here for a few more years, because he didn't seem to have the money to move out. I have older friends, but they had never discussed their 'empty nest' experiences, until I mentioned how I am feeling, at the moment. Not every woman experiences the feeling of loss, of course. Some even experience relief, I believe!! Anyway, you've been warned!

Rose said...

My empty nest developed much more slowly than this. There are 16 years between my oldest son and youngest daughter, so you can imagine how long I seem to have been going through transitions. One would move out, then come home, another would move out, etc. In fact, when older daughter (#3 child) moved far away, youngest daughter moved back home and is still living with us. I don't know how I will feel when she finally moves out, but I know it will feel very strange and empty around here.

I didn't mean this comment to be about me; it's just that I do understand how you feel. And it must be so much harder to deal with this when it happens so suddenly. At least I've had many years to gradually get used to the idea.

Buy more socks to fill up that washing machine and think of some things you've always wanted to do and start doing them! One of these days--hopefully--there will be grandchildren coming to visit (I have five), and your house will be full of liveliness and laughter once again.

Mean Mom said...

rose - I am more than interested in everyone's experiences of children growing up etc. You have been a bit more fortunate, in some respects, having more time to get used to the idea. Still sad, though.

I am feeling less emotional about it all, now. I was already going through an emotional period, because of the menopause, so I am sure that just exacerbated the situation.

I have so much to do, that I seem to be almost paralysed with indecision, to be honest. I am still halfway through decorating the hall, stairs and landing. We are having a new carpet laid in eldest son's bedroom, on Wednesday, but we haven't decorated, yet. I have worked in the back garden, but not the side garden and we don't have anything for tea. So, why am I blogging?

I do hope for grandchildren, but not until the time is right!

Grit said...

i feel sad and guilty now for hiding in the office to escape my three little girls who are making enough noise that you can probably hear them if you unplug your ipod. i am going back in right now to be an arm-flinger and a wailer.

Mean Mom said...

grit - I occasionally had to shut myself in the bedroom, when mine were young, because I was afraid that I would do them bodily harm. Once I dashed out to the car, with every intention of running away. Fortunately, it wouldn't start. I tell myself that I wouldn't have got any further than the bottom of the drive, but who knows? Motherhood is full of contradictions. We all want to be the perfect parent, but mostly have to settle for just being normal. Bet yours thought you had gone crazy, when you started with the arm flinging and wailing. ;0)

Ashley Ladd said...


I so understand. I ended up wearing mismatched socks, today, too. I buy so many pairs and can't seem to find them after washing. Out of three adult children, only one of mine has left the nest and I'm lucky that he still lives close by, in the neighboring city with his family. The other 4 kids still live at home, so I don't have any empty rooms yet.

Mean Mom said...

ashley ladd - I seem to have lost another 2 socks since I wrote that post! What a big family you have! No empty rooms in your house, just at the moment, then. Thanks for calling by and for your comment.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Dear Mean Mom, so glad I came by to catch up - and I do feel for you. You will know from my posts how much I miss my two - it's a very hard time to get through, isn't it? I moved down here to Brighton because Son was at Sussex Uni and didn't come home because he loved it here! Of course I love it here now, and he has moved to London!! It will get better - have you tried Terry Wogan in the mornings to cheer you up? Love and Hugs, M xx

Mean Mom said...

a mother's place - You moved to Brighton, then son moved to London. That was a bit perverse! Oh, well, as long as you like Brighton, I suppose that's OK! My son is alone in his student house, at the moment, because the others haven't started yet. I don't think that he will be as keen to come home, when he has company.

I do like Terry Wogan and listen quite often. I have to confess that I like to watch GMTV, whilst I am eating my breakfast, however! I am getting used to my new situation. I quite like having less housework.