The Summer That Wasn't

By Alison September 8, 2014 22 Comments 3 Min Read

In Summer there are usually peonies in vases and barbecues in the garden. There are usually evenings spent sipping wine in a twinkle lit garden and mornings spent dead-heading roses, and trawling around car boot sales across the area.
But not this summer. This Summer I have not finished a single book. Nor written a single word. My skin isn’t glowing from dalliances with the late afternoon sun and there hasn’t been meal after meal of pomegranate sprinkled salads. No. This is the Summer that wasn’t.
This is the Summer that Finley turned eleven. It is the Summer in which I failed to protect him from something neither of us could have predicted and it is the Summer in which I had to give August to my child: to bolster and boost him. To make him as certain of me as he could possibly be and to provide not just emotional support on demand but be there for him in both body and spirit.
It has meant spending every last penny I had on days out and cosy meals for just the two of us. It has meant a birthday resplendent with everything a little boy could wish for and it has meant letting him sleep next to me when he needed to and taking him to all the theme parks and for all the walks in the park with a mad puppy, that his little heart desired.
He has been indulged and I have been exhausted. My laptop grew dusty after Alfie chewed through the wire and I struggled to order a replacement and all manner of life and obligation was left hanging in the internet while the house became static, less looked after than it has ever been before, though filled with the noise of visiting children and an ongoing war between puppy and cat.
I am not myself. I have missed words, and books and writing in a way that is almost palpable. A hole you could almost poke your hand into. I have spent evenings staring into space and trying not to be terrified by tomorrow. And I have jeopardised friendships and business commitments because I couldn’t think straight.  But I have done it because it is what Finley needed. He needed me to be available to lounge with, laugh with and eat pizza from boxes with. He needed to be heard, reassured and have his world feel safe again. And in order to do that, for just a short spell, I had to give him my all.
Today he is back in school, and I can have my Monday back again. I can write to you and ask you to understand, and I can stare at my screen for as long as is necessary without him dissolving into tears. I can pick up the pieces of my life, and try to put them back together while carving out a new normal for both of us. I can cook and  laugh, and putter myself silly for I have so very much missed flowers and candlelight, all the routines and rituals that have always sustained me.
Parenting is hard. All to often we try to fit it into a life filled with personal desire and unbridled ambition. Our days are filled with the must be done’s and the I can’t live without’s and our children are expected to muddle along side all our dreams and mistakes without asking questions, or having their little hearts acknowledged to the necessary degree. Which is why I had to stop. And listen. And hear him. I had to make the most of his tenth Summer for it will never be gifted to us again and I had to make sure that joy took precedent over grown up responsibility.
Sacrifice then, your name is Summer. And because of you we are in a better place. Business as usual will commence immediately.


  1. Gena says:

    Bless you both,I have messaged you xx

  2. Sally says:

    Best wishes to both you and Finley. As the mother of three little boys I know only too well how they make your heart contract when they are sad. There’s only so much the outside world can do to touch your little boy – mums can always make things better x

  3. Keri says:

    I am so so sorry that Finn has been having a tough time. This is such a tender age (my son is also 11) and sometimes being his mama hurts my own heart so much! I’m very happy to see you back!

  4. Becky says:

    Glad to see you back, but know this-Your child always comes first , no matter what. All this wonderful stuff is so temporary, you will only have Finley for awhile and it goes by way too fast.The days seems long , but the years are short. My 3 are grown and gone and it flew by. Treasure this time you had with him which I am sure you did. There will always be bumps in the road (so to speak), but you will never regret the time you spend with your child. Trust me:)

  5. Carol_M says:

    So sorry to hear that Finley has had a rough time. And of course we understand your absence. You’re a mom, and your little one comes first. Love and hugs to you both.

  6. Karen Clyde says:

    Oh Alison, you have done the bravest thing by giving your all to your valuable child. No one can take this summer away from you, yes it was tough, you made the right decision, we are all here for you. Finn is the better for it, you made the right decision, the puppy will grow to be Finn’s best friend, except for you, of course! Lots of love

  7. lynne says:

    My heart aches for you. Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, said “A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.” Truer words were never spoken. Thankfully, you didn’t have to trot off to a corporate office every day and leave Finley elsewhere. I’m sure his healing owes everything to you.

  8. Sasha says:


  9. Kathy says:

    Ahh bless you Alison. I was wondering where you were and if you were OK. Spending time with your lovely son is absolutely the right thing to do. My heart goes out to you – as a mum it is so very hard to see your child suffering or being unhappy.
    I remember those feelings so well and still feel a pang even after all these years – my own little darling is now 24 and an army wife!
    Take care of yourself and Finn.

  10. Sandi Moran says:

    I have been sending you good thoughts, knowing that something was not right with your world. Happy that you are back for us again, and that things are better. Children come first, always. Hugs to you from Iowa.

  11. Gillian says:

    Darling Alison, your priorities are in order, we wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s lovely to have you back too! Hope you enjoy puttering into Autumn xxx

  12. Susan Telford says:

    Oh Alison, so sorry that Finlay has had a rough time. But how fantastic that he has a Mummy who saw what he needed and gave it to him in spades.
    Was a big snippy re undelivered prize from June. Sorry, my dear, I understand better now!
    Much love
    Susan x

  13. chrissie says:

    You my dear are a wonderful Mother !
    Summer is continuing too ! Enjoy the Indian Summer.
    Hugs X

  14. Carol-Anne says:

    I’m so sorry for whatever struggle your little one is going through. But know that you’ve done the right thing. Made the right choice.
    Wishing you the strength you need to keep going through it.

  15. Lynn says:

    Lots of love to Finley and his lovely Mum X

  16. Anna says:

    Poor Finley. I hope you’re both back on track. I know I don’t really know you except what you choose to share through your books and the wonder that is the internet, but please know that those of us out here in cyberspace are rooting for you and your son xx

  17. linda hobbis says:

    Sending good wishes and our thoughts are with you. Hope all is OK with Finn.

  18. Caroline says:

    Dear Alison
    It broke my heart to read this. I don’t think there is a greater pain we can suffer as a mother than to see our children unhappy. The good news is that as a mother, you have the power to support and nurture him through this difficult time and I am sure you will both grow closer, and stronger, as a result. Thank you for letting us know how things are going and ….. take it easy returning to us, there is no rush.

  19. Kelly Jo Grossman says:

    Light and Love to you and Finley.

  20. Hausfrau says:

    I’m so sorry Finley has been having a rough time! I hope things are getting better. You have done the best thing you could possibly do, by really, truly being there for him.

  21. Margaret says:

    I can only echo what everyone else has said, I’m deeply sad about the tough time you’ve both had.

  22. jademichele says:

    i’ve followed your blog for years now,and i’m always touched by your deep love and commitment to your child, it’s beautiful to see 🙂 hope you are both well-with love from America 🙂

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