I didn’t really think I was suffering from “Empty Nest Syndrome”….until I made a plan to go and see both my uni children (conveniently at the same one) and then was super-over-excited to see them. So much so I found myself wondering if I should move there – which I do appreciate was only just more than a fleeting thought that I didn’t share with my children who would have been horrified at the idea.
Coming back from catching up with them has reminded me however of how eerily quiet in my house these days and I’m not sure I was prepared for that. I do have one child left to look after, but he’s a bit of a free spirit and doesn’t really need to sit next to me very often these days.
When your children move out and you have been left feeling a little lost, the idea is that you’re supposed to take the opportunity to start a whole new phase of learning new things, travelling more and hanging out at the cinema on a Saturday afternoon. NOT do what I do and drive down to see them, spending about as much money as it would have cost me to fly to Australia to feed them breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days and nights. In addition, I stayed in a hotel so that my daughter could enjoy the luxury of having a bath for the first time in weeks. I didn’t really understand what she was making all the fuss about until I dropped her back at her halls and quickly popped to the loo before driving back. BIG mistake. They were all over-flowing with effluent and it was unspeakably revolting. I am still traumatised.
The adjustment is affecting my friends in a number of different ways, which is to be expected after 18 years of full on child-rearing and you really don’t think much about it whilst you’re in the midst of it all. That said, like many things, the actual reality of the situation is often less dreadful than the imagined perception of how it will feel and lets look on the bright side for a minute – full fridge, tidy house, empty wash basket, my clothes are still in my cupboard, as is my mascara. I have more cash in my wallet as I’m not dishing it out every ten minutes (that is done remotely these days) and there are no loud discussions or late night parties.
But, whilst of course I’m pleased that they’re happy, the sad reality is that you do slightly want them to miss you – and they just don’t. Not at all (except when they’re really ill or need money). She is already having the time of her life, although she and all her friends are a little bit ill and I guess will continue caning it until the Christmas holidays when they’ll arrive home with 8 tons of washing and sleep on the sofa for three weeks.
Still, it was so reassuring to go and see them healthy (well reasonably) and happy (excessively) and I replenished my dose of hugs and laughs and sitting around chewing the cud and plan to do that again in the near future.
Here they are, my beautiful adult children, coping in the big wide world without me (oh, the big one on the left is my baby child btw), looking like an ad for Carhartt – which very wisely has opened up shop in the city centre, being the popular choice of student clothing:-