Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Back to school
He loves boarding; wants to be there more; wants to immerse himself in this new, more independent life. And I should be glad, I am glad. It’s what I have always wanted – my boy to be his own person; to be free; to fly. But he is changing, it’s inevitable – and I can feel the ties loosening. He phoned me from his dorm room just before lights out and sounded totally different. I could hear his friends in the background, laughing that he was phoning home, that he was saying goodnight to his mother. Bless his soul – I hadn’t asked him to, he didn’t have to - but he did. I could hear the split in his voice – the pretended nonchalance, the little boy sliding away. I am fading into the background. Still loved, still needed, just not so much, not in such a central way. It's right, it's proper but by heck it's unsettling.
It struck me that this is a new start for me as much as for him. For the last twelve years I have not been my own person in any way. I have been Mother – a role, to be honest, I wasn’t ever sure I would fulfil. I’ve never been natural mother material, never felt particularly maternal – I can appreciate babies in an aesthetic way but keep my arms firmly pinned by my sides when they’re around. While loving James was the easiest thing in the entire world, packing away my own needs and desires was harder. To say my career has slid in the last decade is an understatement. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Time flies so fast and it never occurred to me to go down the nanny route. So I scrabbled and made do and had to turn down work that conflicted with mothering (the kiss of death in journalism). And so, here I am, sitting at my desk thinking "now what?"
I can feel, so strongly, that it’s time for a change, for a shift. I need a new start, a new pencil case, a new pair of shiny Clarks T-bar shoes. There’s that whiff of autumn in the air which, for me, is always a kickstart to the psyche. I need to get back in touch with who I am when I’m not being ‘James’ mum’. I can feel it, like a song whistled quietly into the wind, but can't hear it clearly yet.
I hope, I really hope, that my teenage fiction works out. I love sinking into that wild, hopelessly romantic, endlessly exciting world. And teens seem to adore the book - their enthusiasm and puzzled fury that it's not published is so dear. I just hope I can find an editor who feels the same way. If not, then I will need to discover something else. All suggestions very welcome...