Monday, 10 August 2015
Where have our children gone?
This is our favourite picture of all 5 of our children. 4 boys and 1 girl.
It was taken in 2002 on the last family holiday all 7 of us went on.
It is 1 of a handful of pictures where we have all of the 5 children together.
Left to right
Alex, 1999, after 2 and a half years living with us in South Africa, it was decided he would return to boarding school in the UK, waiting GCSE results then 2 years of A levels ahead and on schedule for an apprenticeship with CISCO
Jamie, 1992, currently living in Leeds after leaving home age 18 for an apprenticeship in Hotel Management in Reading, also living in Cheltenham for 18 months.
Andrew, 1989, left home 2007 to join the army and was stationed in Germany for 4 years, the last 3 years he's been back living in the Forest of Dean.
Daniel, 1995, completed his high school education in South Africa, left home 2014 spent a year applying for and sorting papers and is in the army in Yorkshire. he passes out in September and is being stationed in Belfast.
Stephanie, 1988, left home a few months after this picture was taken and went into residential school in Bristol, had a short spell in care in Tewkesbury before moving to her adult placement in Gloucestershire in 2009.
So that's where our children are, but what actually happened to them?
We've been looking back at old family photos this week and it feels like yesterday, today. We can remember how it actually feels to be the parents of 4 boys and 1 disabled daughter. We don't just remember the fun, the tantrums, the stress, we can feel them, breathe them.
In our minds we can travel back in time to our house in Malvern, the first home we had where all 7 of us lived together.
We recall the weekends of getting the children to their football matches, their grandparents, the long drives to Bristol to collect and return our daughter every Friday and Sunday night. Calling in at granny's working out the rota for whose turn it was to sit next to their sister and have their hair pulled, stopping at Michael Wood services on the way home for yet another toilet stop. Carrying changing bags, fitting a wheelchair and a pushchair in the boot, Gluten free food for the youngest and 2 sets of nappies for the eldest and the youngest, then finding somewhere to change them whilst looking after the other 3 kids.
The holidays, the fights, the achievements, first day at school, prom, last day of school, exams, girlfriends, part time jobs, trying to get everyone together for dinner most evenings, maybe cooking twice, cooking different meals.
The washing, the ironing, the cleaning, homework.......I'm breaking out in hives as I type this, how did we actually manage?
Hubby worked away 3 days a week, I had a full time job, the closest family were 40 miles away, we spent a fortune on after school care, bus fares, football kit, replacement PE kit every term for at least one child. They went to 4 different primary schools, 6 different high schools.
And now we have 4 adult children and one remaining teenager. I'm 44, hubby 57, no one tells me anymore I look old enough to have 5 kids, or that I must have started young, people see us as single adults, without a care in the world, who have raised their children and live a dream life in Dubai.
They don't see the transition we went through from parents of 5 kids to no parental responsibility within 7 years, they drip fed themselves out of our lives and then they were gone.
Yes we are still their parents, but what we see now is 5 well adjusted adults who occasionally stand before us, when we visit the UK or they visit us in Dubai. They meet and visit us with their girlfriends in tow, they finance themselves, have good jobs, their own homes. (apart from the 16 yo)
Hubby managed to get 4 of the 5 together on his last trip to the UK, to date I'd only managed to get 3 together at any one given time.
Next month we'll both be back in the UK to visit all 7 kids, we're hoping we can get a chance to recreate the photo, not necessarily on the beach in France, but at their grandparents or in a cafe.
They really don't keep in touch with one another, they are all so very different, but when they meet up it's none stop chatter about life as children, with us, their parents at home, the holidays, football matches, the fights (but they don't dwell on those)
But today they stand before us as adults and we can't help but wonder where those 5 little children went, because they no longer feel like ours.
@MummyBarrow asked in a blog post what do we call our kids as they are no longer teens? Well there's a word now for Tweens and Threenagers, so I'd like to suggest we call them Kidults.