Where have they gone?



Normally, I would rise to the sounds of my family waking up. I have just spent three weeks without them. I wake up right now and the flat is empty. I walk down the corridor to the kitchen to make myself tea and it is so quiet. I wait for the ‘Good Morning’ Whatsapp message, I follow them on Instagram as I see their travels, a sad sad Mummy stalker, who is missing them badly…


I came back to the UK for a 25 year drama school reunion and was due to take an acting job that got pushed back by a few weeks. So here I am whilst the kids and my husband are driving back through Spain and France and home to the UK. We go to Spain, as much as we can as that is where our tribe are, the unschoolers, the homeschoolers, the ones who do it differently. It is great.


Normally I would not take three weeks out to be by myself. Siince having a family, I haven’t  done it, this break was a kind of accidental portal to a quiet familyless place, so it has been a journey. A quiet island in the sea of mothering. A snapshot of how life was before I had a family and how it might be when they have flown the nest.


What I have learnt being without them.

Having one’s own time and schedule with no imminent responsibility is really really lovely.

I eat less. Much less.

Cook less.

Do more exercise.

Find it easier to concentrate on work.

Have gone out more and seen friends and been more sociable.

I like my own company.

I am really good at redecorating bathrooms

I drink more tea than normal.


So perhaps here is a lesson about self care and remembering myself before the mum part. As that can only feed into being a happier and more fulfilled person.


But what I have also been thinking about is that there will be a time when they will be gone and out of the house and it feels like time is racing by, sand speeding through an hourglass…

I will miss the laughter

The cuddles

The constant questions

The interactions

The sitting together eating and chatting

The challenges that we have to figure out

The smell of them

Just the whole darn thing of them being with us, with me as a family, it is a gift.


So once again I am reminded as to how precious time is and really that is all we have with each other.

Time it is the most precious commodity.

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About the Author

Lehla is an illustrator and an author of books, she has written for The Guardian. She trained as an actress at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She wrote The South African Illustrated Cookbook, The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women and she illustrated a kid's book by M.J. Amani called 'Excuse Me, I'm Trying to Read' and also 'I am Me, You, Us and We' by Caroline Trowbridge. Above all she is a mother to three fast growing kids, she juggles her time between them and working on new books and projects. She has recently co authored with Anthony 'Jump', Fall, Fly - from schooling, to homeschooling, to unschooling' Her art work can be seen at http://lehlaeldridge.wix.com/lehla-