I would do it again, but set down this.

You are all extremely kind, and I do not deserve you. Being conscious of my undeserving state, however, is not quite sufficient to retro-shame me into wishing I’d kept my moaning, first-world-problem-beset gob shut. It was very cathartic to have a whinge, and I thank you.

There’s something about this time of year that seems to engender an uncomfortable emotion in me, and this year I am sunk well past my usual tide-line into a quicksand of… not dissatisfaction, exactly. And not quite wanderlust, either, although the vagus in me watches the flying V of geese fade completely out of sight. It’s a restless, unsettled sort of mental fidget, characterised by an urgent compulsion to Do Stuff, Do Stuff Now, Do Stuff Before It Is Too Late, asking myself Deep Unanswerables about exactly what Stuff it is I want to do, and fretting over every instance of my life where I’ve dropped a bollock, settled for a very second best, or, most chafingly of all, not done my understanding justice, not by a long chalk.

I am 35, and half-way through my nominal span. I am not the wife, mother, daughter, woman, writer, thinker, reader, musician, scholar or friend that I am capable of being. 

I am having the self-same mid-life crisis that plagues every chap beset by the spreading ripple of a thin spot up-top and who promptly acquires a shiny new fast machine, except I don’t have his budget. I have considered dying my hair pink, however.

It’s probably not just my age, or the season.

John, who is wiser than his current eyebrow status gives rise to believe, has long told me that he sees a bad case of cabin fever in me, that I am insufficiently stimulated and poorly engaged with the world, except for you lot that cosy up in here with me. Given that the pressure of a professional workload – and not a particularly demanding one, either, except in hours-scheduling terms –  has cattle-prodded my mind into skedaddling out of… what? A kind of stasis? …and into the quicksand mentioned above, he’s evidently seen something that I hadn’t, yet I still think he’s wide of the bullseye.

I feel I did the right thing for Harry and I – for us both as individuals, with our own, particular, idiosyncratic matrix of mutual emotional and developmental requirement – by being slow to confide him to the care of others. He steps out now – still with a wobble – into his expanding world, confident to his core, his ferocious independence and drive to engineer, explore and govern remarked upon by all. He is fearful only of that which I have vigorously instilled in him – fire, heat, traffic – or that which is scary enough to alarm any self-respecting child, damnit. (I’m looking at U, British Board of Film Classifisoddingcation, to whom I mistakenly abnegated a parenting decision or two.)

I’ve a few more silver hairs than I’m happy with, after hours dreadful, things strange, and very sore nights indeed. The bank account is woeful. But my challenged, challenging, tumultuous, (fiendishly) enterprising, highly-charged and profoundly intrepid son and I needed a gradual stretching of our bindings. And furthermore, regardless of how the fiscal, emotional, marital, personal and intellectual cost of Harry’s upbringing is totted up, our parental exchequer could never arrive at a sum total of anything other than handsome dividend. He is… beauty.

Our respective Venn diagram circles are positioned no longer in that of planetary eclipse, but ripping apart in very viscous fashion: imperceptibly at first, but undeniably accelerating as the area of our overlap diminishes and the surface force between us lessens. I am no longer in totality, his over-arching sky, his every horizon, and this both horrifies and enraptures me.

I’m trying to fill the void Harry leaves in me when he darts behind the bolted half-door into his nursery school (giving me such an incongruous farewell: an excessively – accordingly to my feelings! – perfunctory and casual glance, followed by a frown of intense and acute effort as he labours to harness two of his thin, precious store of words into a sentence. ‘Buh-bye….  Mmuum’. The dissonance is thoroughly emblematic of the child.).  I look around for the dropped guide-ropes of my former existence, and realise they finish at my feet: I had no plan beyond here. This place, this motherhood, this matchless configuration of anxiety, mirth and love was the farthest extent of my dazzled sight and I turn away into a dimmer world in which my head must either stagnate or people anew with ideas: my small sun is bouncing his beams of delight, excitement and wrath into other cosmos than mine.

I am an ill-at-ease mixture of stress, distraction and lamentation just now, and you must bear with me a while.

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