Friday, July 8, 2016
When all else fails: food
After putting three children through three different levels of school and attending parent-teacher meetings throughout, these final meetings feel like the end of an era.
The meetings delivered the usual predictable news that our child is smart but not applying himself sufficiently in most of his subjects -- nothing new there for our male progeny.
Like much about parenting, these meetings have always seemed like both a frustrating, even tedious, waste of time, and a preciously rare tangible reminder that as a parent you are the privileged guardian of a young person with all the responsibilities and rewards that that most important of roles entails.
Still, for a long time I have felt an increasing nostalgia for the time when the kids were proper young, and now, as of yesterday, I find myself already nostalgic for the time when we were expected to attend parent-teacher meetings, which I never looked forward to. Indeed that is an understatement.
In a couple of weeks, delayed because of her uni exams, we're going to our daughter's 21st birthday party arranged by her, at her flat, because she's the independent one who can't wait to grow up, get a proper job and, yes, I guess (hope), have a family of her own.
Our oldest (23) is currently in Perth, visiting his girlfriend and studiously ignoring my requests for a Skype call, presumably because he's got better things to do.
So: where does all this leave me?
Well, that's what I'm trying to figure out. I've just published what I hope won't be my only book and people are enjoying it, which is the realisation of a lifelong dream and could, if I play my cards right and stop worrying about not having a purpose in life, be the beginning of a very nice and satisfying career as a writer, a career for which an empty nest is surely much more conducive than a full one.
Still, what is the point, I sometimes wonder, in doing anything other than parenting, or teaching and caring for other people's kids if you don't have your own? Indeed I have done a lot of teaching other people's kids, from preschoolers to teenagers, and found this satisfying work (especially the preschoolers), but somehow, it's no longer sufficiently satisfying to devote myself to.
A few years back I ruled out politics and saving the world from itself as my life mission, having tried it for some years and decided, in the end, I didn't have enough hair to tear out -- my hair isn't getting any thicker.
Making money has never been a great motivator for me; I guess I'm lucky it hasn't had to be, at least not for a while now. That said, I would like to see my writing appreciated widely and wouldn't say no to the money that that would bring, as well as the travel it might pay for.
Still, few writers make good money and I am realistic about this reality. Certainly money was not my motivation for turning to creative writing.
So what then?
Grandchildren? Maybe. But at fifty, the anticipation of the grandchildren that may, or may not, come, seems a little too sad and sorry, even for me.
I haven't got any answers today, sorry. No pithy punchline that ties everything up neatly and leaves you, and me, thinking it's all alright really. Indeed I even shed a few tears lapping in the pool earlier today and was glad they melted away into the liquid blue unnoticed. But not so glad I didn't feel the need to come home and write about it. Hmm...
I think I need a meatball.
When all else fails: food. Indeed the cat meowing at my door throughout this post seems to agree, and to suggest that my purpose in life is entirely obvious and what the furry fck am I worried about?