Well hello again, long time no see! The school summer holidays finished on Tuesday of last week, when Toby went back to school but to be honest I was feeling a bit exhausted, so I took the rest of the week to curl up in a quiet corner and knit socks. The long school break over summer always requires a lot of energy but this year it has been especially challenging, both physically and emotionally. It sounds like I'm complaining, but I'm really not - it has been a good summer for us. It's just that by the end of 7 weeks of full on Toby time I feel like a yo-yo and am looking forward to just being able to sit without needing to jump up and get a snack, run a bath, find a toy, swap a dvd or any of the countless little things that Toby constantly needs doing for him.
He has also kept me busy with lots of walks and our new favourite activity - cycling. We've found a special needs adapted cycle hire centre about 10 miles away and have had great fun cycling a side-by-side tandem around the sailing lake there. I do the steering and braking and Toby just helps with the pedalling - though it feels like he's 'glass cranking*' going up the hills and only putting any really effort in on the downward slopes when he just wants to go madly fast!
*glass cranking - a cycling term meaning to rotate the pedals without actually applying power, but trying to hide this from those you are riding with.
On the emotional side Amy had her A level exam results, which were initially a bit of a nasty shock for her, as she fell quite a long way short of her predicted grade in one subject. After conferring with her teacher and putting in for a re-mark she now has the grades of A, B, B - not quite what she'd hoped for but good just the same. It's a useful learning experience for her and hopefully she'll put her disappointment to good use and resolve not to leave anything to chance as she embarks on her degree course in two weeks time.
Oh, it feels so odd writing that! It's going to be a big change for us all at the end of September with Amy going off to Uni and living on campus (in a rather lovely en-suite bed study room with a kitchen shared with 6 others). She's only an hour away by car so is able to come back for the odd weekend if she wants to. I'm not yet sure how to feel - cohabiting with a strong willed teenager who doesn't want your advice thank you very much; leaves the new bathroom that her Dad spent weeks re-decorating in a soggy mess; helps herself to the last of the ice-cream and wakes the whole house up at crazy o'clock in the morning can sometimes make you feel like you won't miss her a great deal, but I suspect that all of that will be forgotten once she's left and I'll be very much missing her wry sense of humour, her company on movie nights, her frequent hugs and the sound of her beautiful singing through the ceiling as I sit here typing at the computer.
When she was born I remember feeling completely inexperienced and unprepared as a parent, despite all of the preparation and classes, and I feel the same kind of bewilderment now she's about to begin her independent life. The difference is that her future is now firmly in her hands and no longer in mine. We raise our children with the hope that they'll grow into capable, independent individuals and will no longer need us, but I'm not yet sure how to dial down my impulse to protect, to educate and to shield her from the worst that the world can inflict. It will take some getting used to I think.
Change is all around here and the seasons are shifting into autumn. I'm so looking forward to some solitude in the woods over the coming weeks - they are at their most beautiful under a golden autumn sun. And being able to wander at my own pace; to sit and listen to the birds in the treetops; to stop and get down on my hands and knees to look for toadstools and maybe take a photo or two will be something I very much enjoy.
Well, thanks for popping in to visit. I'm looking forward to posting regularly here again very soon, hopefully see you again then.
Pictures above were taken at Hatfield house, July 19th 2018