Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Friends and Neighbours

As you know, I have moved house recently. 

It took us about 18 months to secure our lovely house by the sea but, finally, we are in. On the first day here our new neighbours popped round with a card and a huge box of chocolates (there goes the diet again!). In fact, I have probably had more conversations with the couple next door in a month than I had with my last neighbours in ten years and I thank them for making us so welcome.

It started me thinking how we are often too busy to pass the time of day with those who live around us and it is a great shame. My mother knew everyone in the street where I grew up (she had lived there for years and still does) and I can remember that everyone was always popping in and out of each other’s houses. These days so many of us don’t even know who lives next door, let alone the entire road.

Another happy side effect of moving house has been the number of people who have dropped by to see us. No matter how many boxes we have had to unpack or rooms to paint, we have stopped what we are doing and reached for the kettle (ok, yes, more often it has been the corkscrew!). In the past, I have frequently had to cancel lunch dates and other social engagements because I have just been too busy but moving has given me the perfect excuse to make time for the people who matter. As a working mum with three children, our schedule is always hectic but it is important to take time out for friends and it is all easy to forget that.

It has been a very sociable and enjoyable few weeks. We had to deal with the inevitable leaky taps, squeaky floorboards and, in our case, five hundred spotlights, as we discover the house’s little quirks but it has been made easier by the kindness of friends and family who have fed my children, packed and unpacked boxes and (my sister, bless her) scrubbed out the oven.

I would like to say that life will carry on this way but already, as the new term starts, I am finding myself pressured by the school run, work deadlines and the practicalities of family life, as well as trying to find time to wield a paintbrush.

I can only say that I will try.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

New Horizons

It is a time of change for my family.

Not only have we moved house recently, but each of my children is embarking on a new stage in their lives.

Having achieved good grades in her GCSEs (it was touch and go at times!) my eldest daughter has just started an A level course at college.

My middle child is just beginning her GCSEs and is excited at the prospect of studying subjects she has chosen.

And my son is now in year 6 as we begin the process of looking at a suitable secondary school for him (excellent sporting facilities will feature high on the list of priorities).

It is incredible to me how quickly the years have gone by and how fast they have grown up. What happened to those baby years? Having a growing family brings different challenges from their younger years. I worry more when they go out and spend a fortune on petrol ferrying them around (rather that than they travel home alone!). But I feel privileged to watch them grow into the unique individuals they are becoming, each with their own strengths and talents.

I am aware too, that before long they will be ready to leave the proverbial nest. Lillie will be 17 in a month’s time and what seemed like a distant point in the future is looming ever nearer. This is as it should be and I will be only too happy to see them fulfil their potential and go out into the world.

I told my daughters recently that if lived well, a life should never be static but consist of lots of progressive stages. It almost feels as if I have lived several different ‘lives’ but each one was appropriate at the time and I regard change as exciting.

As we all settle into our new home and my children each begin a new phase in their own lives, it is good to reflect on how far we have already travelled on the huge adventure that is family life - and how far there is still to go.