OK so I can finally share 2 bits of news. It's not been my news to share. But that of 2 of my children. Children 3 and 4. It's been causing me quite a bit of stress in regards to the impact it will have on my life as a mum and the worries I have for my children. But they've now told all the family and their friends about their plans and travels so there is no stopping mum now.
My kids tell me everything (well what they think I need to know and enough to keep me off their backs)
My kids tell me everything before they tell anyone else (after they've told their girlfriends, best mates, cousins, bloke in the pub etc)
My kids tell me everything that will have an impact on my life life (when they need to borrow money)
Child 4 is now 22 and happily settled in Northern Ireland. I'm flying to Belfast on Saturday for 4 days to say goodbye before he goes on his first tour of duty with the British Army for the next 7 months in the Middle East. He actually won't be that far from me in Dubai as the crow flies, but he may as well be on the moon for a while. As a mum it's hard when your child leaves home, he has a new life now, with his girlfriend and her family on a daily basis, but I'm still mum and still a very important part of his life, even if I do say so myself.
My 2nd piece of news is that 3 weeks ago, child 3 who left home in 2010 aged 18, 3 months before we moved to South Africa has announced that on July 31st he is moving with his girlfriend to Australia, initially on a 1 year working visa, but the plan is to extend it and stay out there for a long as they can, if not forever. His first comment upon telling us was that we couldn't complain about the distance as we currently live in Dubai and we left him when he was 18 and moved 6000 miles away to South Africa. He made a fair point.
I see all my children between 2-4 times a year, either through visiting the UK or them coming over to Dubai to visit us. When I'm in the UK, I focus my visits around them, but with child 3 in Leeds and child 4 in Northern Ireland, the last couple of years it's been getting harder to see them together. In fact the last time all 7 of us were together in the same country was in 2007 and the last family photo was in 2003. This Spring we managed to get all 7 of us together in a car park in Cheltenham for half an hour where we took this photo.
I doubt we'll ever get all of us together again, I know we'll all see one another, in various places around the world, but as a family of 7? especially now they have long term girlfriends and are involved in their lives with plans to settle down, holiday plans will change, Christmas and birthday's will be shared, it's just life and with us living in 3 different continents it's going to be virtually impossible from now on.
As for the rest of the kids:
The eldest child, child 1, is in a residential home in the UK, she is now 29 and profoundly disabled, we aren't involved in her day to day life, but every 2 years we are invited to take part in an assessment and are involved in her financial planning and any budget changes and the impacts on the services provided. When this process takes place it is a full time job for around 4-6 weeks, form filling and negotiating back and forth to ensure there is no disruption in the care she receives.
Child 2 left home at 18 and joined the British Army also, he was based in Germany for 4 years and now lives with his girlfriend and works in the Forest of Dean, he is 27.
Child 5 left home aged 13 and returned to boarding school in the UK in 2013 aged 14, he leaves school in 2 weeks time and he is currently applying for apprenticeships. I'm back in the UK to support him through this process and assist with housing and moving and attending interviews. We have no idea at this point in time where abouts in the UK he'll end up, but for now we're looking at Gloucestershire.
For the foreseeable future our family visits will be as a family of 5 as that's all we will be able to manage to get together, but we'll make the most of of it and carry on making memories and adding photo's to our wall. I'll just need to learn to photo shop.