Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Sorry to cast a blight on your day but I’m rather miserable. Maybe you should stop reading now. My troubles are nothing, I know, compared to many people’s; but it doesn’t really help to cheer me up when I contemplate that lots of people are considerably more miserable. My gloom is all based round my children, who are such kind, affectionate, deserving young folk. I mean, I know I’m their mum. But they really are lovely.

Our son-in-law is still not at work. In fact, he’s hardly been at work for about eighteen months. He’s been on every medication known to man, had various types of counselling, tried fish oil, St John’s Wort, homeopathy and so on.

Daughter 2 is going out with an actor, a relationship that has lasted over four years. It’s not that we don’t like him: as far as we know him (and we don’t feel we know him that well) we like him all right. It’s just that he’s not around much. Either he’s working around the country in some minor role in some minor production or he’s unemployed and living with his parents in the Midlands of England. If he did by some fluke become successful, he’d still never be around much, by the nature of the work.

She’s an architect and in normal circumstances could get work in London, where he really needs to be based for work (except that he can’t earn enough money to afford London rents - Catch 22…). But then even if he could, he would frequently not be there because of work - Catch 23. With the recent downturn in the building trade this wouldn’t be a good time for her to change firms and she doesn’t particularly want to live in London anyway. We certainly don’t want her to be so far away. At the moment, he’s just arrived here to stay with us while he takes part in a musical in the Festival Fringe, so they’ll see a bit of each other for a month or so, but then what? She’s 27 now. Time to know where she is, in my opinion. Not that she complains. She's too nice.

And our son has left home for his first job at a hospital in Dumfries, a couple of hours away. He’s there for a year and then in Glasgow (not so far) for a year, so of course he won’t be home to live again. He does know where he is and I don’t like this either. He’s such a jolly, helpful, cuddly, funny chap and he’s gone.

Now, I know that things could be worse. We like our son-in-law and he has many good qualities. We’re very lucky to have had Daughter 2 with us so long; also our son. And two hours isn’t that long a journey. But there’s no use people saying these things because I know them and I’m still miserable. Children leave home; it’s natural; I’ll get used to it; they’re all healthy; we can visit; we’re lucky to have such great kids; and so on. Yes, yes, yes. I don’t want to be reasoned with; I want things to be different. It doesn’t help the sadness when friends give good reasons why I shouldn’t be sad.

I remind myself of the poet Philip Larkin. In one of his letters he was replying to a friend who had experienced various disasters – ill health, redundancy, divorce – and he recounted his griefs - maybe a corn on his foot, a hole in his shirt and a piece of mouldy cheese in his fridge. He then added that he knew his problems were trivial compared to hers but, he added, “mine are happening to me”.

Well, quite.

So I’ve been making myself even more fed-up by doing destructive gardening – my very unfavourite kind. We’ve been in this house for 19 years and my herbaceous plants have become a bit jungly – lily-of-the-valley being the most rampant of all (why did I ever plant it?) – so I’ve been wrecking my already wrecked back by digging huge clumps of things out. I’m hot, muddy, scratched and not finished by a long way. My garden looks a mess (well, bits of it). And I’ve hardly touched the even-more-rampant ivy which I foolishly planted to hide the ugly garden wall. Wall? What wall? Take my advice: never plant ivy.

The cats are nice, though. Furry. They're happy enough.


  1. Oh poor Isabelle!

    No, the 'other people have it worse' thing doesn't help a bit, does it? Your crap + my crap = more crap, not less.

    And it doesn't really help to know that you're doing everything you can for your children by being such a lovely mum, and just can't fix their lives for them.

    But you can sound off about it here, and you don't have to always be cheerful and jolly for us. And they're still very young really, with good prospects, and how many of us can be that sure where we are anyway? And parents worrying about you can be a bit of a burden too, I always found, though I doubt you could be a burden to anyone!

    There I go looking like I'm telling you to count your blessings, when that's not what you need.

    A big hug to you anyway, and I hope things start looking

  2. I know very well how you are feeling, although I am one stage behind you. My 3 sons are leaving the constantly need mom phase to the more independent, leave us alone phase, and it bums me out. I want to turn back the clock a bit, in some ways. Friends say.. oh, but you can do so much more now, etc. etc... Yes, true...but when the sadness hits, I need to acknowledge it, face it, and eventually, I will find a way to get myself out.

    Usually with hot sweaty gardening, or sometimes, more pleasantly, with knitting/sewing. I am also famous for dealing with stress by taking on a home improvement project - like this summers bathroom reno. Tough medicine, but usually works.

    Anyway, just sympathy from me, and the hope that something does come along to make all seem bright again.

  3. Wishing you the best, Isabelle. I think that in ten years, most of these problems will be resolved. Until then, though, it's a bit of hard going.

  4. Oh Isabelle there is no answer is there? But instead of being sad you can be angry with me because I'm going to come over all smug. You told me off for leaving my sortof grownup children behind and starting a newish life in France - how could you, you said - well, there it is. Things change whatever, and it's the values and the love that matter, not the distance or the problems. So there. I'll go and hide now.

  5. Oh, Isabelle! I am sorry you're having such a rough go at things right now. Our oldest went away for the day this week and I was so worried for her, I can't imagine when they're grown! You are such a good, supportive mom, though, knowing you're there helps them, I'm sure, when things are tough.
    I sympathize in the overgrown plant department. Ugh, ivy! Our problem is the wild kind! Sending you lots of love and hugs. Hope they help!

  6. Oh Sweet Isabelle! You do indeed have my sympathy. There's just nothing, absolutely nothing harder than watching your children suffer and I don't care what other people's gloom is -- looking at their gloom will not heal the hole in YOUR heart.

    I felt just like you do when my second child was born. I looked around and realized how lucky I was to have a new baby (we almost lost him in childbirth) and yet, I was miserable (not to mention feeling guilty) because I so wanted a girl. No amount of logic and reason can help those sad feelings. Time seems to help a lot -- small consolation when you're in the thick of it though?

    You know we'll always listen (and not lecture!) I wish one of us were there close to you to just have a girls out for tea now and then or something!

    On another note, you'd advise againse Lily of the Valley? I was just thinking I might like to try it in a troublesome shady spot I have. I love hostas and have planted them repeatedly, but the darn rabbits just won't leave them alone, so I thought I might try something else. Do you have any suggestions?

    Oh, and dare I suggest, perhaps a less sweaty diversion in the summer -- maybe knitting in the air conditioning or something? ;-)

  7. The innocence of Thimbleanna---air conditioning in Scotland?! Too hot? Open the windows!

    It's so true that we would rather suffer ourselves than stand helplessly by and watch our children suffer....But gardening is excellent therapy, and a nice hot bath afterwards will soothe the aching back! Lily of the Valley has always seemed so lovely to me. Surprised to hear it is so naughty!

    However, I have to add that, until you've lived in Florida, you "ain't seen nothin'" in the Jungley growth department!

    Too bad I don't live closer. We could wallow together in our helplessness [while drinking gallons of wonderful hot tea....]

  8. Well, Snap!
    I just had a rant, & I seem to be feeling 'off' too.
    I can't destry the garden... Gom has already done that!

  9. Oh - I could have written parts of that post. When our children were teenagers I remember thinking it would be grteat when they were older and I no longer worried about them. That worry I've found never goes. A friend said it was a good feeling to know your offspring were all secure in their little compartments, trouble is life is never that settled. You probably won't believe this but I quite like the "empty nest" but then I guess it's never really empty as we have the grandsons visiting a few times a week. Now I'm starting to be a worry wart about them! Good to have a vent about it.

    I mentioned to your daughter to goggle a treatment called EFT for her husband. Really helped me with anxiety attacks when lots of other treaments failed. You never know - could be worth a try.

  10. Isabelle It will all blow over before you know yourself.All our children have left home But you can go and visit them and give them all hugs just keep your health good I had two unexpected Heartattacs in 2006 and i thought this cant happen to me as my kids need me I pulled through but have many sick days but the thought of your children being their when you need them helps.Look after yourselfit will all work out in the wash as my Granny used to say
    Extra Hugs Mary.

  11. Hugs Isabelle! Now why didn'y you give that advice about Ivy 30 years ago!
    Please I want to be able to grow Lily of the too warm or something here and I love it.

    Sit down and write yourself a list of 10 good things you should be or are very happy about!

  12. There is nothing like a good "HUMPH" every now and then to relieve the soul. It is like the release valve for the pent up steam. Much better out than in - and you are so eloquent in your "humph"ing. And it is true - the cats a lovely....they're a constant.

  13. Isabelle, a big hug and lots of sympathy for you! It's so hard not to be able to do anything, only just to be there (and I'm sure your children appreciate that.)
    Our eldest (19 tomorrow!)is nannying in London on her gap year,long way from Oz. I'm so proud of her, terrified for her, glad she's having a great time and miss her so much.
    Ivy? I want something that will grow enough in drought to be a nuisance!

  14. hugs isabelle...and it's true what you wrote, it's all real, no matter what!
    i love my lily of the valley, we had a yard full every summer and my mum loved them. so i have them again, in the shade behind our house. they love the warmth of the dryer vent and the dampness :)
    but ivy, ugh! had to dig it all out when we moved in...still comes out once in a while ;)

  15. Oh Isabelle, the worry about our children never goes away - at least it doesn't for me. My D#2 was diagnosed with bipolar 2 last year and we've had a real go with actually keeping her alive! And I lost my husband to mental illness, too. I do pray for your SIL that the doctors will find the right treatment for him and that your daughter will be able to stand by him.
    Ivy? Oh my goodness I can relate to that. It's taken me 2 years to get rid of mine but somehow little sprigs keep coming up! And my lilies were rampant, too! Finally got rid of most of them. Yes, they are beautiful, but...
    Good to hear about the lily of the valley. Thanks for the advice.
    Feel better soon! :)

  16. Worrying about your kids, missing your kids - it is all about loving your children. I know. Big hug from me too.

  17. I am sad that you are sad, Isabelle. Not having any children means people think I don't understand. Maybe I don't, but I can still feel sympathy. I have several friends who have the same issues as you with their adult children; married to/living with people who just don't live up to the standards my friends would have liked for their kids. And that isn't being snobbish; I mean they just want good things for their kids, and like you, are sad that their kids seem bent on self destruction.

  18. PS comment - cats are so comforting to have around, aren't they. Soooooo relaxed, it just calms you down being with them. And furry too - lol!

  19. Goodness, Gina seems to be taking the situation even more gloomily than I am! My kids aren't bent on self-destruction. I hope!

  20. I think you are in need of a scone or two. (Never underestimate the healing power of scones!)

  21. Smooch.

    (I think the scones are a good idea).

  22. I love your cats, it will be a year the 17th of this month I had to put my sweet Melody to rest, she is waiting for me at Rainbow Bridge, just this side of heaven.