Tuesday, January 01, 2008


2007 has been a bit of a rubbish year for our family. Having written that, I immediately feel guilty because obviously many people have had a hugely rubbisher one and have had to endure warfare, starvation, fire, flood or the death or kidnap of their child. So I’m talking in very local terms here, from the point of view of a lucky someone to whom nothing really terrible has ever happened.

But my dad died in April after a long and distressing decline, and my lovely son-in-law has spent a lot of the year unable to go to work because of depression. And my wonderful second daughter is still going out with her actor boyfriend, whom I have nothing against on a personal level but who is not getting a lot of work. This means that he’s living with his parents in the Midlands while she’s living here in Edinburgh and they don’t see much of each other.

I’ve spent the last few weeks contemplating the end of the year and hoping to myself that 2008 was going to be better. But then during the last few days of 2007, I started to worry that in fact it was going to be worse. And I’m still kind of in that frame of mind.

This may well be the year that our two remaining children leave home. And I’m going to find this very hard. If Daughter 2’s boyfriend did become more successful, he’d base himself in London and so she would probably go there too. Which is entirely reasonable, of course: she’s 26 and we’re very lucky to have her still at home and she needs to make her own life away from us. But knowing this won’t make it easier. It should but it won’t. I want all my children to live near me. I love them so much and they’re so interesting and cuddly and such good fun. We’re lucky that sweet Daughter 1 lives fairly near, but even so, I’d prefer her at the end of the street. London is direly far way. Yes, I know that in American or Australian terms it’s just a toddle, but in Scottish terms – Scotland is a little country – it’s almost unreachably far.

And our beloved son will start working as a doctor and may well not get a job in Edinburgh. He’ll earn a reasonable salary and I assume may be able to get a mortgage. Which is good, of course. In a way. He’ll be 24 and needs to be independent too. Again, we’ve been blessed to have him at home for so long.

It doesn’t help that I know that my attitude is ridiculously clingy. I know I need to get a life. I know they’ll all still love us even when they don’t live at home.

And at least we have cats who don’t look like departing any time soon – like the lean, keen killing machine you see above. And Daughter 1 and I met up yesterday with Loth of “The Gym Isn’t Working” and she’s lovely! Funny and interesting and generally very nice! So there are good things in life too. I do know this.

I’ve just read Shauna Reid’s book, “The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl”, based on her blog of the same name. If by any chance anyone who reads this doesn’t know about her, please buy it! It’s published by Transworld and is available from Amazon and in shops. It charts her life over the years during which she lost 12 and a half stone in weight (that's 176 pounds or 80 kilos), moved to Scotland during the process… and lots more (don’t want to give it all away)… and it’s wonderfully well written, funny and touching. It’s not just about losing weight – it’s not a diet guide – it’s about how she learnt to become healthy and more confident in lots of ways. That sounds soppy but it isn’t at all.

Here she is describing herself after having had her wisdom teeth removed: "I can't sleep because my head is massively swollen like a mutant potato. I was hoping for a cute little chipmunk face, but instead I'm a slab with eyes, like those statues on Easter Island. My lips are numb too, so when I spoon gruel into my mouth it slithers down my chin as if I'm a helpless baby. Somebody should just strap me into a high chair and make the aeroplane noises."

One of her mantras at one stage in the book is “Stop moping and start coping” – excellent advice. I’m going to try to do this. Possibly even tomorrow. Meanwhile, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to have another little mope. And now that I've depressed you - Happy New Year!


  1. Aw, shucks. That weird red glow you can see in the sky is me blushing! I second the recommendation for Shauna's book - pure dead brilliant!

    And Isabelle - you can borrow my children whenever you like. Just say the word. I'm generous that way!

  2. Sad that your son might be moving away?....I'd do just about anything, pay any amount of money, to get my son (a 22 year old "musician") to even seriously consider moving away.

  3. I hope 2008 is a better year for you and your family too.

  4. Our troubles are troubles too, even if they don't seem as catastrophic as those of other people. You've had a tough year Isabelle. It's just as well the catlets came along to help you through it.

    One of the many things that I admire about you is that you appreciate the good things in your life even when it's not going so well. That's an amazing gift.

    I hope your son-in-law's health improves and that daughter no 2's boyfriend and your son both get jobs in Edinburgh!

  5. Diana goes back on the 10th, so I will be joining you in the moping chair then. What can I say??? If I didn't live 6 hours away, I would be zooming up the M6 to eat chocolate and drink coffee and curl up on the couch and wail with you!
    There was a time when, every new year, I would think...Ok, so next year cannot possibly be worse. And the last time I thought that was the year before Geoff died. So I then thought, OK, so please let me retain the ability to smile, no matter what happens. Hmmm. This year, I am just saying....Ok, bring it on, then. And who knows??? 2008 could be spectacular!

  6. My husband has a saying, "you never have to apologize for the way you feel". It's true, none of us here have to carry water five miles or resort to feeding bugs to our children. However, the things you listed, even the good things, can be enormously stressful.

    I don't see how anyone copes with their beloved children growing up and moving on. That's what happens if one is a successful parent, of course, but ... do they have to move quite so far away? Does it have to be so permanent?

    Thank goodness we live in the days of the internet. When I moved out 25 years ago, there were only letters and the telephone, and I couldn't afford much of the latter. Nowadays with email and online chat, it's much easier and less expensive to communicate with people long distance.

    I'll be thinking of you and hoping that 2008 is kind to you.

  7. Dear isabelle,

    That did make me a bit sad. I had the most extraordinary year in 2007 and I am still counting my blessings and wondering what on earth I did to deserve some of the things I was given. having said that, there was sorrow too. I can't see that 2008 could live up, and I have trouble and strife aplenty on my horizon.

    I dont blame you for not wanting that adorable girl out of your sight: she is such a blessing to the world, and I would miss her too. I just wish... well I just wish the tall dark stranger heading round the corner would bump into her and sweep her off her humanitarian little feet! You know, that guy that lives at the bottom of your street...
    ah well, we live and hope!

    The gift you have is your dear lovely self and your dear lovely husband... i would be indeed happy if I had such a great relationship. I really would.

    I returned to Sydney and did the dutiful daughter thing for my mother. I did all the things a mother could wish for, but I still feel I have been a disappointing daughter. These thoughts all surface at times like this.
    I am sure they will never leave you...and who knows what is around the corner.

    I checked your weather and was envious to see snow showers were possible. Enjoy it!

    Today i stood on the edge of the sea, had a big stretch, and thanked the world I still could walk. And breathe. Sometimes we must remember this!

    all my best to you all,

    I hope the kitties cheer you.

  8. Ah, dear Isabelle. So sorry you're a bit blue today. Isn't it the great sadness of having children that they grow up and move away? I wonder if we knew how hard it would be, would we have them in the first place?

    I'll be like you this year -- with the eldest possibly moving a 24 hour drive away -- hopefully he'll get in to school -- if not, he has a plan to move there anyway to do research and improve his luck for next years' admissions. Either way, it's so far away. And youngest goes to AU for 6 months in February -- he's my boy that will never move back home -- he wants much more adventure in life. I'm sure they're both ready to go -- I've been much too clingy, as you say. Hope your angels get things sorted out and they all end up on your street!

    Getting old and watching things change just sucks. Now that we have that out of our systems, let's have a good year, shall we? A good fun, catlet filled year! XOXO!

  9. In amongst your gloom I can hear how very proud you are of your children. They don't become successful adults by accident - you should bask in their glow! You've earned it.

  10. Happy New Year Isabelle! I hope things do look up for you in 2008.

  11. oh isabelle... i reckon that you have to wallow in the moping for awhile before you can even think about the coping, it was quite a year. hoping the new one will bring good things...

    thank you again for your review, you are so kind and it means a lot :)

  12. Just dropped daughter no.1 to airport ... had a small attack of the mopes too ... but underneath I know its right for them to fly the nest and wing their own journey ..

    We only ever have a loan of them ..

    Hope 2008 brings you joy and peace.

  13. I think it is post Christmas Blues!
    A lot of us seem to suffer?

    hug & pat the catlets, & all will be well in the world.
    Your posts are like gems!

  14. I think it's been a rough year for a lot of people Isabelle.

    Losing your dad was no minor event, you are never ready to lose a parent, now matter how old or sick they are.

    Don't sell yourself short, that you have no reason to feel that the year was a hard one.

    I am lucky by comparison, my mum survived her stroke, but I can say without a doubt that the year was extremely hard as a result of it.

  15. It's definitely an adjustment when our children grow up and move away. I truly hope your new year is full of joy.

    Thank you for stopping by yesterday.

  16. My darlings were at home at 23 and 26 and then WE moved away from THEM - chucking them out, selling up and moving to France. We did it to get out of career corners we'd backed ourselves into, and it's working wonderfully. But... it's quite something to provide a stable centre for yours to satellite around. I'm so glad to have found your blog, and very best wishes for the new year.