She's Leaving Home

Rose, my baby, is moving into a new flat... and this time she’s taking her books. After a year of renting a room in a house (albeit one belonging to a fireman), Rose is setting up home with her boyf, the lovely Si. I’m really proud that my daughters are capable, independent women who have had the courage to make tough decisions; Lily’s path, carving out a life in the city where she went to university has taken her through some hard and lonely times to reach a place of happiness. Rose, too, had to make tough choices when she struck out on her own. I hope I’ve encouraged the girls; certainly I’ve always believed that the sooner you make your own life the more you’ll get out of it. But when Rose asked if I could bring her books with me when Tom and I head back to help with her move, I realised that my daughters had finally left home.

Books have always been special and I know how much Rose is looking forwards to having hers around her, but it still felt strange packing them up and seeing the chapters in Rose’s early life laid out before me; A Necklace of Raindrops, The Dancing Bear, Oryx and Crake, A Book of Middle English, Rough Guide to Tanzania, countless others too – such evocative reminders.

I’ve always been very protective of my own books (okay, you could accuse me of being a bit anal about them). I’m extremely careful with new books (I’m one of those people who never breaks the spine or folds the corners of the pages over) and I like them to be arranged in a particular order (no, not alphabetical – I have my own system, thank you). So when Tom and I moved in to our first home one of the first things Dad did for us was to fit some gorgeous ash book-cases into the recesses either side of the chimney breast. Tom looked at the book-cases, squeezed my hand and said, ‘I’m really looking forwards to putting our books out and seeing them all mixed together’. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to wipe the look of horror off my face before he saw it, but at that stage I really felt quite faint at the all mixed together bit. There was quite a lot of reassuring to do and a few ruffled feathers to smooth after that, but we got there in the end.

We’re still trying to leave our own home – or at least the old one, although no one seems interested at the moment. In the meantime a series of ‘possibles’, including the pretty stone cottage in the middle of nowhere, have sold, so today we’re off with Ma to see what else is out there. After a wet, cold summer we’ve had some sunshine and it looks glorious out there today. Who knows what we’ll find?

Cardiff Half Marathon Training
Runner’s World SmartCoach Programme Week 11 = 24 miles. Lots of travelling to do over the next few days so I think the schedule is going to take a battering – hope my legs don’t forget what to do.

Image is 'Abstract 1' by Tom Tomos


pinkfairygran said…
It's a time of mixed feelings when the chicks leave the nest finally isn't it? You feel sad, in a way, happy too, and should feel proud. I did, proud of the fact that my two sons were capable of feeding themselves (both are good cooks), looking after themselves in every way. Proud of the fact that they felt able to strike out on their own, confident in themselves. They get to make their own rules,and once you get used to the quieter house, it's actually a great time for the parents too!
JJ Beattie said…
Taking the books too, huh? Wow, that's a big move. You must have done a great job: they both sound fab girls.
liz fenwick said…
Hugs for all the changes.
Pipany said…
Sad but good times then Chris. It is lovely to see your children grow into happy, independent souls, but natural to feel a little sadness too I think. Good luck with house hunting x
gaelikaa said…
Well, Chris, it seems like you've done a fantastic job bringing up both of your girls. I hope I'll be able to say the same about myself and mine in a few years time!
Milla said…
necklace of raindrops, Joan Aiken, right? I loved all her books so much, and onyx and Crake - although I'm surprised to like Margaret Atwood. Maybe it's the eyes, but she is superbly, effortlessly good. Cow. Don't know the bear one, so have to go and Amazon it.
Good luck with the selling, a beastly business.
Pondside said…
Yup - taking the books is a sign of real change. Wait until there are children - then the boxes of Lego from the attic go too!
Lovely post today - full of that poignant feeling between loss and pride.
Flowerpot said…
Your girls seem to be doing so well - what a credit to you. My books are all very special to me so I know just howyou feel. Fortunately when I got together with Himself, he'd been living on a boat so he hadnt had room to store any books!
Edward said…
Even though T has just turned 13, I can start to imagine how you must be feeling, though you sound like you've raised great children - just hope we can do as well!

Good luck with the training - and think of me on Sunday at the GNR!
Preseli Mags said…
I had to laugh at the 'all mixed together' and the look of horror, bit. I still regard Brians books and CDs as interlopers. Good luck with the house hunting and with the training. I'm on an easy week - only 15 miles. It feels like a rest! (I wouldn't have said that a year or two ago!)
Debs said…
Hugs to you and I hope that Rose is very happy in her new flat. I'm finding it all a bit strange having James going off to uni so soon, and can't believe he's grown up so quickly.

Best of luck with the house hunting, hopefully things will start to move soon.

Love, love the painting.
bradan said…
A Necklace of Raindrops was one of my daughter's favourites.She has a flat for her second year at uni, but her books are mostly still here.
With you on the non-mixing of each others books on the book shelves, shuddered at the thought!
Good luck with house hunting.
Brown Dog said…
I understand the symbolic meaning of books. Although my boy is at a different life-stage, I still can't bring myself to part with Mr Gumpy's Outing. And although it's a period of mixed feelings, I think you should feel proud that you've nurtured your two girls into strong, independent women. Which is what being a parent is all about. Mind you, I don't know what I'm going to do when Mr Gumpy's Outing goes...
elizabethm said…
Oh yes, I know. Hard to see them go and yet it would be so much harder if they wouldn't! Your girls sound great. Now ours are really gone there is also the real pleasure of being visited, adult to adult.
has Ma come back to embarass you with the butcher again? Bless. Good luck with the house hunting.
sheepish said…
Can't say much except good luck with the house hunting.
sheepish said…
No hurt taken from your post, life goes on and I like to offer support where I can but am not always able to put it into words.
ChrisH said…
Pfg, Well done for raising boys who can cook - I'm so glad Tom's mum did!

JJ - you are so right - they are fab ;)

Thanks. Liz.

Pip, it's funny how significant the books seem.

gaelikaa, I'm sure anyone reading your blog would know that you are already there. Everything's in place for when the time comes for your children to leave.

Milla, it's Michael Morpurgo. Know what you mean about Margaret Atwood.

Pondside, I think Ma already ditched the Lego so I can't pass it on. Thanks.

FP... hmmm, all that scope to put your own books wherever you liked. We had quite a few books on the old boat but they weren't quite the same after the boat sank!
ChrisH said…
Edward, thanks and I'm sure your two will be just fine... not sure how Lolly will fare. All the best with the GNR, I'm quite envious.

PM, phew! Glad it's not just me. Yes, I sometimes look at the schedule and think, 'Oh great - only 6m today' - then you know you've made SOME progress (I'm not going to say anything I might regret on 18 October!).

Debs, and to you. Yes, it will be strange when James leaves - good luck to both of you.

bradan - another one, phew! I'm glad your daughter has her accommodation sorted out. Not usually much room for them to store stuff even if they're not kicked on in the holidays. Looks as if her books are safe with you for now.

Brown Dog, I've hung on to 'The Brambley Hedge' collection on the basis that both girls can read it here - but so can I. 'The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark' is another read that brings the memories flooding back so, yes, 'Mr Grumpy's Outing' will be a tough one to let go when the time comes!

Elizabeth, that's very true - I do relish that adult-to-adult time.

SBS - there is a story about that but I can't say here!

Sheepish, thank you for that. You've been so brave, I do admire how you've carried on (sorry, so difficult to write in a comment without sounding glib or trite.)
CC Devine said…
I am exactly the same with my books. Hate lending them for fear of another person not taking as good care of them as I.

Must admit to them being all mixed together though! Just about have a separation between fiction and non-fic!

Good luck with all that's going on for you at the moment.
Un Peu Loufoque said…
One of us has just flown the nest but she has flown so far away she had to leave all her books etc behind ehr so I ma pretending she hasnt really left at all!

Good luck with propertyhunting! Can't persuade you to ocme to Brittany? Landscape the same and its just as wet here!
Woozle1967 said…
So you're all off on new adventures really, aren't you? Exciting times for you all, albeit tinged with sadness, but how wonderful to know you've successfully brought up your girls and they are strong and independent.

As for the house hunting - I believe in fate here. Your new home isn't ready for you yet, that's why you haven't sold. It'll happen when it's the right time.xx
Expat mum said…
I have two years till the Queenager goes off to college. Aarrgghh - dreading it.
Fennie said…
Ah - lovely and nostalgic post. We still have some of our two's early books including a whole set of Beatrix Potter with their names written in in letters you could read from Weymouth - leastways the first one or two that size, followed by ever tinier writing as they realise they are not going to get everything on one line. Don't know what I'd do if I had to pass them over - they have become almost reference books.

Good luck with the house hunting.
Cottage Garden said…
You must be so proud Chris that both daughters are confident, independent young women making their way in the world. I wish Rose all the very best.

As for books I arrange mine as regards their category or sometimes their colour - well they have to look good don't they!!

Good luck with the house-hunting - maybe you will find another pretty little stone cottage - hope weather continues to stay fine for you too.

Jeanne x
Oh dear Chris

She's still your little girl isn't she. I have it all to come and I already dread the day Idle Jack leaves home (whatever I say about him!)

Best wishes to Rosie and to you. perhaps the househunting will be good distraction?

A time of change in your household. It will be fine, I'm sure.

warmest wishes
patsy said…
My books are all in storage at the moment as we are temporarily renting, and I'm bereft. And in the Big Clear Out before we moved, I couldn't bring myself to donate the children's Hairy McLairy books to the charity box. Too dog-eared and tatty, testament to many, many bedtime snuggles.
Your girls seem strong and capable, you've done the best a mother can do.
Tam said…
The day my girl leaves home will be a drak day indeed but I guess it brings a unique mix of pride and sorrow.

I'm with you on the books - can't bear to break the spine. Have you seen the picture of Neil Gaiman's library over on his blog? That's what I aspire to :-)
ChrisH said…
CC - oh phew! I'm horrible about lending my books. Rose mashes them up as her attitude is completely the opposite. Eeek!

UPL, you can pretend she still there whilst the books are there. Hmm, good point about the rain in Brittany - and I think my French is about as rubbish as my Welsh so no probs there!

Woozle - I do hope you are right about houses. The ones we like keep dropping off the list and we are now trying to see the merit in the downright ugly places!

Expatmum - but think of all the lovely writing you'll do!

Fennie, that's a very sweet story about the handwriting. No wonder you don't want to part with them.

Jeanne, I laughed at your colour co-ordinated books, but given how beautiful the photos are of your home and garden I'm not suprised. Lovely!

BSM (still want to call you Angel though!) thank you for your good wishes. Lots of changes at the moment, yes, we'll see what happens.

Patsy, it will be lovely when your books come out of storage though, you'll be able to discover them all over again!

Tam, hello! I don't know whether to pop over and look at Neil's library or not... I might spend the rest of the week rearranging all my books!
Liane Spicer said…
I always swore I'd be grown up and modern when my son left home, but when he moved to his own apartment three years ago the empty nest syndrome hit me hard. Now I'm just proud of him for making tough decisions and making them work. And we're carving out new space where we relate as adult-adult as well as mother-son, and I'm beginning to enjoy that very much!

Changes, the only constant. Ensuring that life never gets boring.

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