THE SISTERS' SONG coming in January 2018 from Allen and Unwin. Sign up to be the first to know. x Louise

There’s been a lot going on this year—mostly good, but not all of it. Normally, I cope. Normally, I feel good about the good things, but I’ve had trouble feeling good at all this year, about anything. I think I’ve worked out why:

I don’t like this new phase of our life, the one where the kids leave home. It’s not so much that I miss the daughter who has left—although I do—or that I’ll miss the others when they leave—I know I will—it’s that it signifies the end of an era for our family. And it’s been a good era, a great era. In fact, it’s been the happiest era of my life and I don’t want it to end.

I’m not one for change at the best of times, even when it’s a good change. On holiday, I’m always the first to want to come home. When I was at school, it took me a while to adjust to a new classroom and a new teacher—I spent the first few weeks wishing I was back with the old one. When I started Uni, I wanted to go back to school. When I first became a mother, I wanted to go back to just my husband and me. Each time I brought home a new baby, I spent the first few weeks wanting my old family back, the one in which I knew all the children.

Now, those baby-birthing, child-rearing years are fast coming to a close and it’s way too soon. I’m not ready. I know it happens in every family and I know I’m not the first mother to feel like this. I know I’ll have to adjust, and in time I will. But, to be completely honest, I’m not very happy about it …

I have loved the years of being a mother, with all of my children around me. I have delighted in watching our little people grow up— watching bandy legs scurrying up a hall become long limbs that lope down a cricket pitch; feeling little arms slide around my neck and watching those same arms pull water down a pool; hearing tentative, mispronounced words become sentences, then stories. I’ve even enjoyed extracting still-full lunch boxes from school bags each evening, driving a people-mover for three hours in the afternoons as I ferry kids hither and thither across town, and standing huddled under an umbrella by the side of a hockey pitch on a Saturday. The tears and the tantrums, the getting up in the middle of the night, the times I craved peace and quiet, the times I wanted just five minutes on my own, have faded from my memory …

And I’ve forgotten how many times I wished they’d hurry and grow up so I could have my life back. Now, here it is, my life is returning, and all I can think about is how much I want those little people with me always …

Ever since I met my husband, life has been good. There’s always been something to look forward to—our graduations, our wedding, a baby, more babies, first teeth, first steps, first days of school … It’s been one momentous event after another, each day bringing something new or nice—a smile, a cuddle, a moment I want to bottle.

And each year has been better than the last. Until this one, that is. It’s hit me that these years are all coming to an end …

I know there’ll be lots of good times ahead—our children’s graduations, their weddings, their babies—but I will miss the days when I had little and not-so-little people in my home.

(Listen to me, already missing them and I still have three at home. *blows nose)

I’ll get used to it—this is life and it moves on. Sometimes, though, I want to wind back the clock and do it all over again.

Thanks for listening—I feel better already. I’ve taken my new babies (our dogs) for a walk, now I sit here in my attic, sipping my peppermint tea and typing on my keyboard. I know life is good and I suspect that a few years from now, I’ll look back on this next phase of our lives and blink away a tear as I say they were the best years of my life …

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