As I have mentioned previously, when Alex, my youngest, left home to go to university in the Cape, my world as I knew it fell apart. A couple of years prior to his leaving, Kiera, his older sister, had set a precedent by moving to China (could she have gone any further, I ask myself). As much as I was devastated by her leaving, I was excited for her (perhaps I was even living somewhat vicariously through her) and, to be honest, I still had Alex! So I managed to get over my feelings of abandonment and enjoy the time I had left at home with my son. However, when I was faced with a totally empty nest four years ago, I was absolutely shattered.
I was very fortunate to have the farm as my bolt-hole; a place where I could lick my wounds and have the time and space to sort myself out. And I thought that I had done just that and moved on. But recently my world seems to have been thrown a bit out of kilter again and this time it’s because Alex has just started work in Cape Town. I suppose it’s because when he was a student, he was still dependent on us as parents. Not just financially but we were still the place he came home to. However, now that he is earning a salary and living in his own flat, I’m aware that the apron strings are in the process of being irretrievably severed. And in my heart of hearts I know that this is a good thing, the best thing in fact, but as he becomes his own man, I feel like I’m losing my boy.
I never felt like this with Kiera. I never felt this scared of losing her because it feels like our relationship has transcended that of mother and daughter; we are, for some inexplicable reason, more like soul mates. The mother – daughter bond has never been difficult for us because, although we are very different people, our worldview is actually quite similar. Yes, we fight, terribly sometimes like I’ve never fought with anyone before, but once we have given vent, we simply pick up where we left off. So I’ve never felt that her leaving home, getting married and immigrating to America has in any way interfered with our relationship; she is simply living far away and thank god for Skype.
Alexander is an entirely different kettle of fish. He is, and always will be my boy. Where Kiera was an old soul, Alex was my “baby”. Where I long for Kiera’s voice(chastising me or making me laugh) I miss Ali’s chubby little hands clasping mine as we ventured out into the world together. I can still snuggle up with Kiera on a sofa (albeit infrequently), watching tearjerkers while clutching our box of tissues. But with Alex there’s a growing distance that comes with a man finding himself, and I have to respect that.
But what I know is that he can’t resist is my cooking! So I’ve booked Peter and me into a timeshare resort in Cape Town over the Easter Weekend and invited him to join us so that I don’t so much have to win my way to his heart as rather stay in his heart through his stomach. What man can resist his mum’s cooking?
And later in the year I’m going to visit Kiera and James in the States for a month in summertime. What I never realised until my daughter moved to the USA was how little leave they are given over there (compared to our incredibly productive workforce). They are only able to take one week’s leave while I’m there and Kiera asked me where I would like to go. The first thing that came into my mind was The World According to Garp and that magnificent house that Garp’s mother lived in, in New England. From the movies, I’ve always loved the look of that coastline; the clapboard houses, harbour towns and ubiquitous lobster shacks. So Maine it is!
I do hope that the rand makes a bit of a recovery. The nice thing about Alex working, of course, is that there’s more money for us (and trips to Cape Town and the States) and hopefully my children are going to be a lot more successful at making it than us.
On the way home from shopping in Howick today, wearing my new best sandals, we hit the most beautiful mist. I asked Peter to stop the car while I leapt out to take some photies. Prancing about in the long, wet grass I was reminded why I don’t usually wear fancy shoes.