A big day.

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No3 son has headed off to university this morning – N is driving him up to Aberdeen.  I did want to go to, but as No2 son is away this weekend, someone has to stay home and dog-sit.  Plus, when all his stuff was loaded into the car, there was only room for two people – driver and passenger!

But I have made good use of the time – I went and started mucking out his bedroom!  I’ve stripped his bed, collected the towels and assorted laundry from the floor, and the first load is washing now.  I have also raked out all the rubbish I could reach from under his bed and his desk, and two bags have gone to the bin.  The room needs dusting and vacuuming (and the rubbish I couldn’t reach fetching out from under the bed), and then when the bed is remade, it will be fit for human habitation!

I am very proud of all my boys – and somewhat proud of us too – we have managed to raise three boys who do well enough at school to get onto good university courses – the ones they want to go on – and who can live independently away from home – well No1 and No2 have done this successfully, and fingers crossed No3 will manage too.  He’s not going to be close enough to come home regularly with his washing, so he will have to work out how to work the laundrette – he has taken lots of clothes with him, so the ‘Must do laundry otherwise I will be naked’ point should be a couple of weeks in the future – lol!  He does know how to work a washing machine – but machines you have to pay to use will be a bit of a shock for him, I think.

I am envious of them all – university is a brilliant time – you get to fly the nest a bit, and try out your wings, but it’s still pretty safe – your accomodation, once paid for, includes all your bills, so the rest of your money just has to be divvied-up to pay for food, books, laundry and fun.  And you are somewhere full of clever people who want to share their knowledge with you – and learning all you can is your main responsibility.  I loved university – I did my nurse training, my theatre nursing course and worked for a year or so before going to Keele – and whenever I drive past a university campus, I do have a hankering to be back there again.  Which is why I am considering doing an OU degree – I don’t want my mind to stagnate (and I fear it has, a bit) and it would be good to do some more challenging things.

Plus I am practising the piano, and working on improving my extremely rusty skills there – so I do have goals for the future, which is a good thing, because there is a part of me that feels that, once all the boys have finished university, and headed off into the world of work – once they’ve left home, I won’t be ‘Mum’ in the same way I was when they were all at home – and I am in the transition phase now, from full-time mum, to detatched mum – and I need to work out who I am, when I am not primarily Mum any more.  I need to find out who Ellie is, again.  Scary – yes – but exciting too.

A few missed days.

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I didn’t manage to post here over the weekend – but that was for happy reasons.  On Friday my good friend and her daughter arrived for the weekend, and then on Saturday, I had my belated 50th birthday party.  I did fret about it beforehand, but it went well, and everyone seemed to have a really good time.  One friend from my nursing days, and her daughter, drove up from Bradford for the party, and drove home afterwards!!

It was a really good evening, and I felt very loved.  My friends were definitely the positive things all weekend, with their lovely words, kind gifts and just being there.  The friend who stayed organised a present for me – a journal that all the party guests wrote in – I still haven’t read it all, but I think there will be the odd tear.

Sunday morning did have the odd tear too – No1 son packed the car, and headed south to start his new job and his new life, as a grown up who has left home.  I know he still loves me, and I know he will come home, but this is another step away from the closeness that you get in a family with school-age children, and it was a bit of a wrench (a lot of one, if I am honest).  But I am proud we have raised someone who can achieve a good degree and find himself a job that excites him and that has really good prospects, and I must hold onto that pride.

My friend and her daughter headed home yesterday, and I went to knitting group – where everyone told me what a wonderful time they had had at the party.  N dropped me there, and came in for coffee, then came back later to pick me up.

Lots of positive things from my friend – but the thing I am choosing for my one positive thing was a lovely conversation I had with an elderly gentleman.  He’d spotted me crocheting, and when everyone else had gone, he plucked up the courage to come over and tell me about his mum, who used to crochet all the time.  In the course of the conversation I learned about his five sisters and their talents, and about his career as a physics teacher.  His degree is in maths, but like many really talented mathematicians, he struggled to explain concepts that he found natural to people who didn’t – so he chose to teach physics, which had always been a struggle for him – so he could empathise with pupils who found it the same.

I told him about my dad, who used to teach maths and who, as Head of Department, got to allocate teachers to classes.  As such, he could have chosen to teach the top sets, the brightest and most motivated pupils, but he always chose to teach the lowest sets, what they called the remedial groups back then – because as he said, it was so much more satisfying to help someone understand a concept that they were really struggling with, and see the light come on in their eyes when they did understand it, than to teach the motivated pupils who grasped things easily.  The chap I was talking to said he liked the sound of my dad, and was sure he’d have got on well with him – and he was right.  I do miss my dad.

Achieving stuff.

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My positive thing for today is the things I have achieved.  I have a playlist for my party on Saturday – well, I actually have two – one on the iPod and one on spotify.  I made the iTunes list first but then couldn’t find my iPod – so No2 son set me up with a playlist on his spotify account, and I have had a lot of fun searching out music on there.  We then found my iPod, so I have synced to that too – so I have a play list and a spare – and the venue have a spotify playlist too, as Plan C.

We’ve also been to the venue and talked over the final details – everything seems to be running pretty smoothly.

In other news, No1 son has finally made some serious inroads on sorting out his room and doing his packing, so he can head southwards on Sunday, to start his first proper, grown up job.  How did I get to be old enough to have a son with a degree and a proper job?  I am very proud of him, but a little blue at the thought of him moving out properly.  He’s been away at university, but that was different – his room was still here and he came home in the holidays.  I know he will still come home for some of his holidays – and as he will be in a rented, shared house, this will probably still be ‘home’, to some extent – but it is the next big step away from us – from me – and I am not entirely happy with it.

Of course I am happy that he has got a good degree, and a job with a very good career path ahead of him – but there is still a little part of me mourning at the loss of my baby.  I will get over it – I have to.  And I am proud that we have raised a boy who has been able to do well in his studies and get a job – a lot of the credit goes to him, but some must be down to parenting too.  And he knows I love him, and will miss him – and he will come home and visit – he’s promised.

Then next weekend, No3 son goes off to university, and the weekend after, No2 son goes back to university – so within just over a fortnight, they will all be gone – for the first time ever.  Then I will have to face the times when N is away for work, and it’s just me, on my own.  I am somewhat dreading it – but hopefully it will not be as bad when it finally happens, and I will cope.  I am sure I will cope, but it will take some adjustment.

Day 2.

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Yup – a whole two days of remembering to blog.  Go me.

Yesterday didn’t go altogether swimmingly, after I’d blogged.  The new carpet was fitted, I vacuumed it, and asked the three boys to put the stuff back in there.  Eventually – and it took half a day of asking – they said they’d done it.  But when I went to bed, I found they had done a totally half-assed job of it.  There were things left in the conservatory – well, in one case, half in, half out of the conservatory, and some stuff left in the office too.

I am afraid I got upset – and went upstairs and shared that with the boys, in no uncertain terms.  They were sorry – but I am pretty sick of asking them to do things over and over, before they finally get done – or I resort to doing them myself.  No1 is going to have to learn to do stuff when he is asked, in his new job – and I did share that nugget of advice with him.

After I’d gone off to bed, nearly in tears, No3 son got up and moved most of the stuff back into the den for me – which was good of him.

So today I am not feeling particularly positive.  On the upside, I do have food for supper tonight – I was afraid there was nothing out of the freezer, but I was wrong – it means changing round today’s and tomorrow’s suppers, but I can feed the faces of folk.  And the meat for tomorrow’s supper is out of the freezer.

And tonight N gets home – I last saw him on Saturday, when he left me at the hotel, for my weekend of socialising in Southend – he headed south for three days work in London and the south, as I headed north, on Monday – so it will be nice to see him.  That is a positive.  And I am probably going to drive into Glasgow to collect him, which I usually enjoy.

But on the downside, I am feeling tired, despite a lie-in – and not particularly motivated to do any sorting out or clearing up, in advance of visitors this weekend.  It may end up being a quick run round with the vacuum on Friday, and that will have to do.  But I hope the friends and family visiting, are doing so to see me, not to critique my housekeeping.

I’m back.

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After a break that’s been far too long, I have come back here.

Things haven’t been all rosy since last we spoke – my lovely mother in law passed away in early December – bastard cancer.  We had her funeral on December 23rd, and have been working through sorting out her estate since then.  Most of that is done, and her house will be sold in early October.

The first 4+ months of this year were spent looking after No2 dog, who managed to snap both her cruciate ligaments, and needed two major orthopaedic operations, to set her right again – and each one meant a minimum of 6 weeks cage rest – and we kept her on cage rest between the two operations, as that seemed kinder than letting her out, and then putting her back in after the second op.  She is now back to near-normal – she just needs to build up her strength and stamina again.

Latest drama has been my mum selling her house (where she’s lived for over 43 years, and where my dad died) and moving to a retirement bungalow near my sister.  I have been in the shit for not going down to help her declutter the old house (apparently she hopes that, one day, I will know what it is like to be old, in pain, on my own and having to deal with everything.  Thanks ma!

She had a meltdown the day before the removers arrived – she didn’t want to leave her house, her garden, her friends – it was all too much – and I can understand that.  It is difficult, making such a big move at any age, but when you are in your 80s, and going to somewhere where you don’t know anyone, it will be really scary.  She did go ahead with the move – as she’s told me since, though, she was following her head, not her heart, and I am worrying that she will regret the decision, and won’t settle in the new house – and what she, and we, would do the, I really don’t know.  It would not make financial sense for her to sell up, and move back closer to where she used to live – just because of the costs already incurred in this move and those that would be incurred if she moved again – but if she doesn’t settle where she is, and make some new friends, I am worried she will get depressed.  Gah – I don’t need this.

We did go and see her last week – I drove down, and met N part way (it is a heck of a long way from Glasgow to Buckinghamshire), and my sister let us use her house whilst she and her husband were on holiday – otherwise it would have been prohibitively expensive to do.  We spent two days doing jobs around her house for her – putting up shelves, putting up the airer over the bath, and painting some of her bedroom furniture.  She still needs to finish the painting, but didn’t want me to plough on and do it all, as it would have meant more paint fumes in her bedroom than she could have coped with.  But what’s left to do is not too difficult or heavy for her.

I went on to Southend for the weekend, after we’d seen mum, and caught up with some friends who I haven’t seen since I moved, 7 years ago – and some who I have seen once or twice since we moved.  It was a good weekend, lots of fun, but as I am not used to socialising so much these days, I did find it all a bit much, and was glad to be home.  But the socialising is not over – I was 50 in December last year, but as my mother in law was so ill, we didn’t plan a party then – the right decision, as it turned out – and so I am having an Official Birthday this weekend – a party at a local coffee shop.  It will be good fun, and I am looking forward to it – but I am also slightly looking forward to the peace and quiet afterwards, when things go back to normal.

Not that they will be going back to normal – it is actually all change here.  No1 son got his degree this year, and has a place on a commercial graduate scheme for the next two years, working for a rail infrastructure company – so he is moving to Kent on Sunday (wahhhhhh).  No2 has two more years of university, and No3 finished school this summer, and is off to Aberdeen university in a week or so’s time.  No2’s term starts a few days later, but basically, by late September, all of the boys will have moved out – either permanently or for term time.  With N working away from home a lot (his job has changed, so now his office is in London, and he’s spending 3 days/2 nights there a week, at the moment, plus working from home, and doing maybe one more work day in London, or elsewhere, as a day trip from home), I am going to be on my own quite a lot.

If I am completely honest, I am not that happy about the prospect.  I am worrying that I will not cope, that I will not find it easy to sleep when I am alone in the house (apart from the dogs, of course).  I need to find the positives – I will have the bed to myself, I will get to watch whatever rubbish I want to on TV without anyone tutting or judging, and I am thinking of having a go at the 5:2 diet – if I only have to cater for myself, it won’t matter if meals are very low in calories, because I won’t be feeding a working adult or three growing lads.  And hopefully, once it actually happens, it will be OK, and I will see that my fears and anxieties were unfounded.

Better news.

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I got my second lot of blood tests back yesterday, and they were under the diagnostic level for type 2 diabetes – but quite close to it. The doctor wants a third set of tests, in 4 weeks time, and will take a ‘best of three’. But even if the third set do come back under the limit, I still need to start making some changes to my diet, trying to lose some weight, and trying to get my blood sugar under control. This is a stern warning.

In other news, I am about to finish therapy – my last session is tomorrow, and I am feeling pretty OK about it. Life is pretty dreadful at the moment – my lovely mother in law is still alive, but has deteriorated drastically over recent weeks. If all goes according to plan, and if the doctors think she is fit enough, she is going home today, but not because she is better – basically she is going home to die. She has survived longer than her doctors thought she would – and whilst this is good, it is also very difficult, because N and his brother, and the rest of us, feel as if we are in limbo. We know there is not going to be a miraculous recovery, and it is only a matter of time – so we are just waiting for it to happen, to get that call from the hospice or the carers or whoever, to tell us she has died. N is a wreck – he is managing to carry on working, but when he was at home last weekend, he was worrying all the time that he might get a call saying ‘come now’ and he might not be able to get down there in time.

He’s down there now, for work, and he is supposed to be heading back up here tomorrow – but he is not sure if he will. He might come up to see us – and to have a therapeutic cuddle with the dogs – and then go back for the weekend, or he might not – I think it depends on whether his mum goes home today, and if she does, how well she handles the transfer, and how she is, once at home. It is possible that she is just hanging on until she gets home, and then she might let go – or it could give her a new lease of life, and she might get some meaningful time at home – I honestly don’t know.

And in the meantime, I feel that the house is getting away from me – I have always struggled with housework – I don’t enjoy it, and find it very hard to motivate myself to do anything – but that means that the house is getting grubby and the clutter is building up – and I can’t see where to start, to sort it all out. So I do nothing, and it just gets worse.