Something life-changing happened today. My baby had his very last day of high school. I have to admit there have been times the going has been rough, and I wondered if we'd actually make it this far.
Some of that was because of my health, and my fear that I would not live to see my kids grow up. Some was the fear that they would do something that would truncate their lives. (We've come close - there was a time when number one child fractured her skull through the upper sinus, and the nurses told me they didn't want her in their ward because they didn't think they were qualified - but had been told not to put her in a helicopter to Brisbane. Oh the joys of a country parish!)
But the day has come. They've both survived to finish high school. One is at uni, and one is waiting to see a TAFE counsellor about how we can pay off fees for him to study there next year.
I brought my boy home from school, and we had a fairly normal conversation about his day before I went to weight loss group. (I'd gained between 3kg and 4kg since last week - I took a fluid tablet and decided not to worry about it.) When I was driving home, it occurred to me that I was tired.
It's a different kind of tired. It's not my lupus-not-enough-energy-to-lift-my-head-off-the-pillow tired. It's a tired that may not even be in my body. It's a tired that comes from realising that for a bit more than 20 years I have been a mother, for a third of that time I've been a single mother, and for all of that time I've been mother to someone (for 17 years of it, two someones) who have Asperger's. It's been really, really, hard work, just getting the three of us through this.
It's not over yet. Neither of them has finished their education. My daughter has talked on and off for three years about moving out, but has never made any concrete moves to do anything of the sort. She's the kind of person who seems to carry a cyclone with her wherever she goes. Things just happen. Yesterday, she borrowed my printer. She managed to have three paper jams. I've been using the same printer more than six years (it has outlasted three computers), and I've never had a paper jam. Then she picked up my stapler, and tried to refill it with fresh staples. Most people can do that. In her hands the stapler simply fell into five pieces that could not be reassembled. (I bought a new stapler.) This is normal for her - destruction and mess just go everywhere she does, and most of the time she doesn't even see it. If she cooks, she manages to leave food not only all over the stove and benchtops, but the doors of the kitchen cupboards, the floor, the walls. And she will try to clean up - but usually that makes more mess for me to do something about later.
Don't get me wrong about this, I absolutely adore my kids. I'm just getting too tired for the amount of work they create for me. I am so looking forward to the time when I can go to their homes to visit them - and have some order in my own home.
The other crisis is financial. When my baby turns 18 in a couple of months, my ex-husband no longer has to pay child support. I understand he is looking forward to this very much. But I have to find that money somewhere, because I still have two full-time students living with me, still needing to be fed, still leaving lights and things turned on unnecessarily and running up the electricity bill, still using the resources that all people use - and someone has to pay. Come March next year, I'm that someone, all on my own. Child support is only about 20% of the money coming into the household - it shouldn't be too hard to make that much up, right? After all, I'm able to work about a day and a half a week.
Am I bitter? Resentful? Not really. Motherhood is a great privilege - and I'm so proud of my kids, of their intellect, of their sense of justice, of the talents they both possess. I'm amazed at the wonderful young adults they have become - and sometimes wonder if I actually had anything at all to do with it. No, I don't resent a minute of being their mother.
But I am so very tired.