Leaving me free to kick my heels. For hours.
I walk about the house a bit. Then I make coffee. Then I put the laundry on. I don't mean wear the laundry, I mean stick it in the washing machine. Then I make another coffee, and wander about the house.
I think I may have the beginnings of a problem here.
Because now I ponder this - on this most momentous day, the day before all three of my children become teenagers - I consider how my life could change course.
To this point, I have been micro managed by children for years. I have been followed around by my three headed creatoids from the Planet BetaZeti for 12 years 364 days. They have argued over everything about me and my daily routine - what I cook, how I cook it, when I serve it; which cup, plate, bowl or spoon is to go where, and why it matters. Why I moved this piece of paper, where have I put it, why that is wrong, and why it should be put back on the floor.
But now, this last day before teens proper, with all my children gone, out the house, for hours, I am looking into my ahead years and thinking, Hey, my kids will be gone! With friends, pursuing interests in which I have no interest, gone doing worthy activities in a bog, and off and away.
Leaving me with no-one to complain about me, chide me, call me up, shout me down, spy on me, tell me off, shut me up or comment on how lunch is always a cheese sandwich and why having your mother wearing shoes like that is not appropriate.
Really, I should be pleased with this thought, when I will be parent to teens, taking them by taxi to their own weekend dates with their own peculiar kind. Then I shall reach that nirvana I have fantasised for; my years of teenage dropping off and picking up, otherwise left to arrange my own life, negotiate my own way, then meet up again to argue about lost keys, complain about lack of routines, disapprove of boyfriends and read out email threats from the maths tutor about missing exam work. How different life will be, to what is gone.
Then what comes next? Maybe a state of quiet household living will not be the dream it seems. When the children are gone, the house is quiet, I have made coffee, put the washing on, vacuumed the carpet? I will sit in my orderly child-free calm, not feeling composed, clear-minded and ready to do my own thing, but vaguely empty, aware that I am not doing anything interesting enough to be told off for it; waiting for my teenage children to come home to bother me, order me about, and tell me why those shoes I'm wearing are still not suitable for a woman my age.
What will become of me then? What can I do with myself? I cannot imagine myself adopting orphans or fostering blind kittens. I can only think I will have to mess up my remaining years in brilliant, bold style, hopefully with more extreme shoes than ever imagined, if only to bring about the arguments, reprimands and disapproval I have become so utterly accustomed to.
I went to pick up my conservationists early. This is what they did. The path and the bog.
I would like to think they used only a pair of nail clippers and a sink plunger, but I doubt it.
These days people trust my outdoors teenagers with real tools.