It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in the Eden Valley: birdsong; sunshine pushing its way through the clouds; the view of green fields, fells and trees from my writing room.
I’ve felt the shift towards Autumn for several weeks now. It’s not in the leaves, so much as the light and the chill in the air. My Autumn Bliss raspberries would normally be coming into fruit now, but we had them in July! My blueberries are being picked on a daily basis even though it’s still August.
In 20 days (yes, I’m counting), my first-born leaves home and heads to university. I’m so thrilled and excited for her, but I have to admit my heart is hurting, and I go to sleep and wake up with tears in my eyes.
I still remember the early years of parenting, when Paul was often working seven days a week, and looking at the clock counting down the hours until 6pm when I could get the girls to bed. Sometimes the days seemed soooooooo long. Now, they don’t seem long enough.
Bethany is busy unpacking and dismantling her life so she can take only essential belongings to her room in the university halls. From time to time I pop into her bedroom to see where she’s up to, and the energy is already so different. How easy it is to create our lives based on possessions. How easy it is to forget that we don’t take anything with us when we die.
The imminent parting of the ways feels like a death, and I’m grieving. I cry for all the times I wasn’t a great mother…all those times I could have done better. Life is too short for regrets, I know, but I will never get those days back again, and nor will my daughter.
I pray that as the years pass, she will remember my smiles rather than my frowns. That she will take comfort from the times I slowed down on our walks so she could examine a wildflower or pick her thousandth raspberry or gooseberry.
More than anything, I hope that the roots of a stable and loving family life that Paul and I have strived to provide for her (and Eliza), will give her the wings to take flight and explore this big and amazing world. I’m thrilled that modern technology has allowed her to already ‘meet’ the people who will be studying a music degree with her, and those with whom she will be sharing halls.
I am thankful for all the years she had of child-led education, and being able to handcraft her own learning and develop her love of music in a way that was meaningful to her.
Yes, change is in the air. It is symbolic that she leaves home at the time of the Autumnal Equinox, and, astrologically, as Saturn conjuncts my natal Moon. Autumn is Nature’s way of showing us that it is okay to let go. That everything has a season. That we must die to the old and surrender to the bare nakedness of Winter. From that descent into the dark, we will surely rise again.