A summer’s evening: glass of wine to hand, I sit with my computer. The sun has set; the dishwasher is on; my little family are occupied, each doing their own thing; a typical family, post dinner scenario.
Earlier this evening I dropped my daughter off at a friend’s house. She has been invited to attend an open air theatre show with a girl that she knows through their creative writing courses. I have not had the opportunity to get to know the family but, from the brief conversations we have had when I have dropped my daughter off on previous occasions, I suspect that I would like them a lot. They are my daughter’s friends; she has made good choices.
My youngest son has chosen to spend his evening watching a few episodes from our Red Dwarf DVD box set. These shows never fail to draw laughs. My elder son eschewed this choice of entertainment initially but succumbed when it became clear that there were no better options. Aged parents will rarely be attractive company for their teenage children.
My husband has unspecified things to do. Having poured himself a glass of wine he has abandoned it on the kitchen worktop. I suspect it will not be attended to before he retires for the night. Setting off for work at 5.30am each morning demands an earlier night than most would consider acceptable. We have grown used to his habits.
I had a lovely birthday yesterday. So many of my family, friends and acquaintances sent me messages of good will. I had enough cards and parcels; presents and messages; physical and virtual indications of care to convince me that I was wished a good day. And I had one. I celebrated quietly with my family but was assured of other’s regard. It was truly heart warming.
Tomorrow is exam results day. However much I may feel concerned about my children’s reactions to whatever results they may achieve I am aware that the results are theirs; I am merely a bystander. Of course I care and am affected by the fallout, but it is not my ability that is being judged; I must put myself aside. Children will never understand that they are physically a part of their parents. What was conjoined may have been sundered at birth but the link is never truly broken. They where and will always be a part of me, and I feel their joy and pain as my own.
Yesterday we opened a bottle of champagne in celebration of my birthday. Another bottle sits chilling in our fridge in anticipation of expected cheer tomorrow. A table at a local restaurant has been booked; a joyful, family occasion is anticipated. At the back of my mind niggles a fear that we are tempting fate in expecting events to proceed in a certain way. What if, what if, what if…
The unhappiness that I have experienced in my life has been triggered when I have felt that I have not lived up to the expectations of those I care about; when I have believed that I have let loved ones down; when I have not achieved the results that were demanded of me, even if only by myself.
Whatever my children become, I would wish for them self fulfilment and contentment. They are amazing young people and I love them unconditionally. Whatever grades an exam board awards them they can fulfil their ambitions if they have the drive and the determination to make it happen. And I will always be there to cheer them on their way.
As parents we desire the best for our children. There comes a time when we must let them go to make their own way, wherever that may lead. My children are expected to do well in their exams and, for their sakes, I hope that they do. Not for my sake though; let them do what they choose for themselves.
I will continue to sit, glass of wine to hand, and look over them. A summer shower patters gently on our windows as I await my daughter’s return. Life goes on.
The stress that the world piles on our young people to achieve a grade too often overshadows the importance of developing a tolerant, rounded and diverse personality; of becoming a good person, whatever that may mean. I wish only that my children may be true to themselves and find their niche in life, content with whatever they become.
So easy to say and so hard to do. I must listen to my own council and be true to myself. Those who love me will accept that.