For the last maybe twelve or eighteen months, I've been gradually living a life as a person with no kids. Of course, Carissa is around but she's really independent. She will be nineteen this year. She's been driving since she was sixteen, working, studying and maintaining relationships since school ended last year. She loves to dance, hike, hang and laugh with friends, cook them stuff and well, she's forging her own way.
This means that I've been left to my own devices. Thankfully it's been gradual and I'm used to it now but it meant that I started to think of life 'beyond Carissa" and my role as her mother. I'll always be her mum obviously but she needs me less and less.
As I've mentioned before, she's doing one maybe two semesters overseas in Birmingham for her degree. After that, she intends to move to Melbourne with a friend. I think she'll do it. She's pretty focused and is planning for it well.
This means that my day-to-day role as Mum kind of ends. No more cooking dinner, cleaning her room, doing her washing from time to time - all that stuff stops. I had anticipated this moment when Carissa was three. Me and her dad separated then and I always said I'd stay in Adelaide to foster a relationship between her and her Dad. Well, that time is over now. She fosters her own relationship with Daddio and Me - well, I'm a free spirit now.
I daydreamed for at least a month or two about just packing up and going to live in say San Francisco! Or, going to hang with my friend George in Montreal! Now, with a qualification up my sleeve, I was suddenly more attractive to more destinations, particularly Commonwealth ones.
And then I researched some post-graduate specialisations that I'm interested in and thought 'One day but I want a break now....' and then around the same time, I thought of my mum. And I thought "Maybe I should go home while she's still on this planet'....
So that's the decision I made. At the end of my lease, I will not renew and I will return to Mackay, in Northern Queensland, pop 166, 181 (Wikipedia, 2011) and spend some quality time with her. Mackay, when I lived there, was like a resort full time. It was easy living, fun and friendly. People were laid back and everyone knew anyone. Since then, the mining boom has attracted crap-loads of people and the culture of Mackay changed somewhat. I'll write more about that later but I will add that it's not a culture that sits well with me. At least, I make that assessment based on what I've experienced when I've returned of late.
So to counteract this cultural conflict, I'm going to live in the Northern Beaches no more than a 20 min drive from the city heart. I plan to work in social work, preferably Government, (probably child protection or a hospital) and experience a sea-change. Wikipedia tells me that Mackay has 31 beaches. Thirty one. That's a lot and my front door will open onto one of them. Here are a few pictures of the view of the property that I'm looking at. When I say beach-front, I mean, beach front. I don't see the point of a sea-change if I'm going to be living in suburbia.
The properties that I am targeting are also furnished. I'm selling up most of my bits and pieces and will travel light and rent for 12 months in the first instance.
Carissa's independance has well prepared me to live without her. Once I was serious about my move home, I sat with Carissa and we discussed it. She said "if you want to move closer to Nanny, I can move into Dads anytime' and we brainstormed any areas of concern and problem solved. She feels as though at 19 the issue she had with Dad are non-existent and if things go wrong, she can fly to me or move in with some of her friends. I wrote to my old trivia friend, George today and said that I will probably grieve very hard for Carissa. I don't drink alcohol but I will probably partake in a glass or two of wine to self-medicate for a bit. Skype, sure. Fly up, sure but gee... that is the biggest adjustment. Ollie is staying with Carissa... and Ace is coming with me. Ace has arthritis so the tropical weather will be good for his bones. I will miss Ollie almost as much as I miss my girl.
When I told her dad that I was doing this, he automatically assumed Carissa would be coming with me. I said 'No, Phil. She has intentions of completing this degree and flying to the UK. It means she's moving in with you.....she's happy to do that....' and he looked away before I saw his eyes went all misty. He loves that girl and he softly said 'I would love to be able to connect with her before she flies the nest completely...' and I agreed.
I used to swim here alot as a kid.. in the beautiful Finch Hatton Gorge. I plan to really live well. I plan to start a series of projects that I've had on hold, perhaps a series of short stories and take care of myself.
So there is no turning back now. I've starting selling furniture, stuff, dvd's, books, excess things that I will not travel with. I will pack up my car and drive from Adelaide to Mackay. It is a road trip across Australia and I will need the best playlist ever created! I've done it before and it's a big big journey of 2510 kilometres or 1559 miles. It will take about 3 - 4 days and I won't drive at night. It's too dangerous with wombats, cattle or kangaroos that will wipe out my mazda at 110 kms per hour in the black night. My mother does not know that I am coming home. I haven't lived in Mackay since I was 18... I expect she will weep.
So there you go! I thought I might set up some GPS tracking stuff on my phone when I go and if you're interested, you can track the trip.
Lots to do before then but there you go. You got the scoop.
Best of luck to you,