For to be free is not to merely cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
- Nelson Mandela -

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Silence is golden

I spent today in total silence.
Ken took the children to French, swimming and badminton and I had the house to myself.
I didn’t speak to anybody until they came back just before 7 pm.
Gosh, did I need that!
Yesterday, I was so tired after taking Mum to the airport - and Myrna to choir - that when I eventually got home I had just enough energy to make myself a sandwich. I thought it tasted a bit funny, but I was too tired to be bothered and after eating it I literally collapsed into bed.
Two hours later I woke up from a dreadful nightmare. All the lights were still on and I didn’t know where I was, what day or time it was. All I knew was that I felt terribly ill and I only just made it to the toilet. The mayonaise on my sandwich must have been off, I think.
Ken had still been at his computer and only when he came to help me my sense of reality came back, bit by bit. The rest of the night was restless and I managed to fall into a deep sleep just before the alarm went off.
I was still very shaky, so after Ken and the kids had left I went back to bed to catch up on sleep. When I finally woke up again it was nearly midday and I decided to abandon all original plans of working and tidying up and just do the most essential shopping before taking the dogs for a long walk.
Walking the dogs is as close as I get to meditating nowadays. It was bitterly cold, but with the bright sunshine and a clear sky the view was magnificent and in the distance I could even see the snowy peaks of the Lake District.

I found myself reflecting on the seven days I spent with Mum, processing all the talking we’ve been doing.
When we first took the children out of school Mum wasn’t happy at all. She worried herself sick about what would happen to these poor children, being denied a proper education. How would they cope? How could they possibly make friends? Of course she worried about the court cases and about the threats that were made about the Child Protection taking the children away from us if we didn’t send them to school.
But after a while and lots of talking she started seeing the reasons and the determination behind our decision. She saw how much good it did the children to be out of school and eventhough she still had her doubts, she started to accept it.
When we decided to move to England she was devastated. We broke the news very carefully, but we still broke her heart. Luckily for her it took nearly two years before we’d sold the house and the business. By the time we eventually left she’d more or less come to peace with the idea and even obtained a computer and learned to use it, so she could send and receive emails and photo’s.

Our relationship has changed. Although we only see each other a few times a year, it seems that we get to know each other even better than before. If only because she now actually spends time, days in our house. Where in Holland most of the time we would go to her house and on the rare occasions that she did come to ours, she would hardly ever stay for more than an hour. Now, we sometimes spend that much time on the telephone and there’s a vivid email exchange.

This week we’ve talked a lot about the development of the children over the past four years. Because Mum doesn’t see them very often, she sees the change in them so much better. And even after her first visit here she said she couldn't see anything but benefits from the children being home educated and living in this beautiful place. She’s so impressed with how independent and self-confident they are, how well behaved (!?!), how well adapted to the English way of life and how much they seem to have learned without going to school. And she’s impressed with the amount of friends they have and by the quality of those friendships. She’ll challenge anybody who dares to suggest that home educated children lack social development, saying that in actual fact it’s quite the opposite...
She still misses us, but she’s stopped asking whether there’s a chance of us coming back to Holland. Not only has she accepted our choices, she even agrees with them now.

And although in the end it is of course entirely our decision and our life, it does sort of adds a golden edge to it all when you have Maternal Approval.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Hi Mieke I am so pleased you had a good time with your mum. I've been spending a lot of time with mine lately and our relationship is changing for the better which is rather surprising as we have never really been that close. I suppose the old english saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder is true.