A Long Drive

It’s the eve of the school holidays.

Tomorrow Amelia is heading 8 hours north with my parents for two weeks.

Two whole weeks.

When Mum first suggested it, I was totally stoked. The thought that this little restless 6 year old, so used to constant school-style stimulation, was about to land in our laps for a fortnight of boredom and quibbling, had been weighing on my mind. As an alternative, two weeks of running in paddocks, fishing in dams, wading in mud, visiting caves, hot air ballooning (oh yes) and evenings snuggled by a fire is the stuff childhood holiday dreams are made of. I couldn’t be more pleased for her. Although I am sure there will be wobbly moments when she misses home, and phones calls will be made, I know that being away from us in a safe place will give her such a sense of independence and pride, and she’s going to have so much flat-out fun, that I feel really good about the decision.

But then I feel bad.

For me!

Now that she leaves tomorrow, there’s a very big part of me that doesn’t want to let her go. Obviously I’ll be brave and set her free (etc. etc.) and anyway, it’s way too late to change minds and she’s so excited and her lists have been written (an extensive packing list and a schedule for holiday activities broken right down to each hour). I share her excitement and we are packing with clothes-flinging enthusiasm, but I also want to hold on to her and step back to before the decision was made and remake it again. She’ll be such a long drive away.

Our two weeks without her will be long. I know from experience that the first three days of the usual school holidays are nigh on nightmarish as exhausted kids wind down and get used to the new, slower schedule. But after that we fall into gentle rhythms and quiet joys with no need to rush anywhere. No 9am deadline to be in line at the classroom door, no need to get out of our pajamas until lunchtime. Time expands allowing for imaginary friends and cubby building in the garden, ‘chapter books’ are written (hers, not mine), friends come in from next door, sisterly affection blossoms. We’ll miss all that.

I already know that I will go into her room while she’s away and listen to the stillness and look at the neat, unslept in bed and feel completely strange and empty. I am already looking at her and missing her. There are moments when she seems so small and waif-like which, oddly, she was nothing of the sort just a week ago. Now she seems thinner and paler and her eyes bigger and more pool-like and those eyelashes! There are other moments when she is funnier than I ever remember her being, and more interesting and full of startling, grown-up confidence. I look at her soft profile and go quite gooshy – there is no other word for it. I am falling madly head-over-heels-again. Funny that.

Only 16 days until she’s home again. Counting down. 


Other words and pictures for “A Long Drive” can be found here. Thanks Pip for hosting again. xx

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20 Responses

  1. Meg says:

    What a beautiful post and photo. Your words go some way in explaining how I feel on Wednesdays when my boyfriend’s son goes back to his mum’s. Four whole sleeps until we see him again. Some weeks the time races by, others it drags.Grandparents are such a special breed. Lucky lucky Amelia. xx

  2. Maddy says:

    You gotta love grandparents, and how special that she will have such great memories of childhood holidays spent at grannys. You are giving her a gift that she will remember for ever. Enjoy the silence.

  3. Oh. I miss her too. I wish she would come back. Even though she hasn’t gone. I love the bit about the unslept in bed the best, Claire. I do that too. At lunchtime, when the kids have gone to school and I’m waiting to go and get them again. You are such a lovely sook, I think.

  4. librarygirl says:

    As mothers we sometimes fantasise about going back to the time before we had the 24 hour a day responsibility for children – then when it’s handed to us we don’t know what to do with it! Know the feeling well!Amelia will have an absolutely wonderful time, and so must you, knowing that. Come up with a new project for yourself while she is away so you’ve something to focus on – winter vegie garden, paint a room, make something different.

    Of course you will miss her! You’re her Mum!

  5. The Antidote says:

    What a brave unselfish mummy you are. It may be 8 hours, but it is still a drive away.

  6. frog says:

    Our lad went away for a week – on a plane! but not by himself just at first – and i missed him so. Those few days before he left, the same thing happened. He was funny, yet fragile looking, confident but still little, hugely excited and just a little wobbly. I was only a very little bit wobbly when I said goodbye. I got wobblier during the week he was away. He got such a bear hug from me the day he got back, he nearly lost his breath.

  7. Kate says:

    That almost made me cry! What a beautiful and pure thought – and what a lucky girl to have such love.On a realllly cynical note (!) could you channel some of these beautiful feelings into your own writing? It would be so powerful. And it might (echoing the above comment-er) give you a really busy activity while she’s away.

    The two weeks will fly, I’m sure 🙂

  8. After reading your blog entry, I had to stifle the urge to dash into my baby’s room and wake her from her evening slumber and simply cuddle the tired little darling.

  9. Jess says:

    You know what? I’ve its any comfort to you I don’t have any kids but I have my mum, and we’re very close, and at 28 when she goes away I feel the same way!!!! I ring her mobile, even though I won’t get her just to hear her voice and then sob away. So it works the same way!

  10. May says:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes, too. I started thinking of when they will leave the nest for good. God, that must feel awful! And I remember when my son was a baby and when he was asleep I missed him SO. I think missing someone every now and then is good for you.

  11. melanie says:

    Wait until she’s almost eighteen has finished school and has made plans to go to University on the other side of the country in another Province. The school is so far away She won’t be coming back home again until Christmas, 4 months away, and only because I bought her a plane flight home.It’s very hard to let them go, even harder not to miss them.

  12. meg says:

    how lovely and sad for you and for her.

  13. Bek says:

    This is just a beautiful post. We call them mummy moments in our house. When just looking at the children warms the heart and brings tears to the eyes. I inherited them from my dad, funnily enough (though when it is him, they are called Grandpa moments, of course.)

  14. Kirsty says:

    Such a beautiful post Claire.Maybe it’s a first born thing? My big girl is going to Somers Camp in two weeks & I’m seeing the waif often.

  15. sooz says:

    You are to be admired. I love the odd nights I have here and there without kids, the craft camp weekends and get aways. Love em. Would happily have one a week. But after the first 2 days I get all sad and distracted…and I don’t think I could go 2 weeks because I am the worst kind of sook. Well done, she will indeed have a totally fabulous time and come back to you all the better for it.

  16. Rachel says:

    Such a beautiful post Claire. My inlaws have already offered to take my sons to stay at their place (5 hours away) when they are older. Part of me thinks it will be great, but I’m not sure how I’d cope without them as well.

  17. Louisa says:

    A beautiful piece of writing.I am sitting here in a silent house on Sunday Morning(everyone else is still in bed).My little six year old girl is going to tassie next week for a week.Part of me can’t wait to get stuck into all those jobs that get put off in the day to day busyness of our lives; the other part of me knows I will feel that “lump” in my heart all week knowing she is so far away.Especially when I start tidying up her bedroom and find all those long lost “treasures” under her bed.

  18. lisa c says:

    This is such a lovely post and pulls at the heart. My 7 year old had her first sleepover last month. It was very hard on my husband and I. I was fine until it was bedtime. She is my baby and I’m not ready to let her go. I couldn’t wait until the next day to go pick her up. She had a blast and didn’t miss us at all and I’m glad for her that she is growing up but sad for me.

  19. Redness says:

    Oh golly gosh you’re breaking my heart … you take me back to both not so long ago and to so long ago when my girl was so tiny yet no matter how old she’s become it still feels awful when she goes away! Honestly it doesn’t get easier … Please don’t miss your Darling too much. xo

  20. Alisa says:

    It’s so true, I miss mine dearly and am so happy to see them even when I’m just picking them up from kindy. So beautifully written, you left me with a lump in my throat and prickly eyes. Thanks.

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