After all these years of single parenting my job is nearly done. I have empty nest syndrome occurring before my very eyes and am beginning to realise that if I’m not careful I will end up home alone with two cats, covered in hair (me, not the cats). One who can’t walk at the moment because she’s really ill. Got terminal cancer. But that’s another story.
My children are widening their horizons. Travelling. Working. Finishing college. All those things I have taught them to go out and grab, but at the same time a tiny part of you wants to wrap them in cotton wool and let them roll around the house bumping into the walls. I need to find something other than drinking more wine than usual to keep me occupied. Of course, as a parent you’re job is never really done, but when they’ve moved out, it’s very different. You can still give them advice and spend time with them, but you can’t make them wash their face and clean their teeth anymore (well actually you can, but it’s not quite the same).
They don’t need me anymore. Like they used to. I remember how terrifying it was to be responsible for a tiny infant who relied on you for everything. Food, shelter, warmth, love, attention. Now they can find all of those things elsewhere.
My umbilical string has had to stretch all the way to Australia (daughter), Peckham (son) and fuck knows where (other son) AND IT IS MARGINALLY DOING MY HEAD IN. I can’t look after them anymore. Can’t protect them. Can’t tell them what to do. I suspect my daughter won’t come back in a month which was the plan. She sounds really happy and annoyingly keeps commenting on why anyone would want to live in the UK, when there’s Sydney instead. Then my youngest son is due to have a gap year and will probably get stuck in Australia as well. I’ll have to threaten to move there with them if that’s the case.
I am missing her. I’ve had to shut her bedroom door so that I can’t see all her belongings and this morning I used her mug to make my tea to feel a little closer to her – she is currently on a coach for 12 hours on her way to Byron Bay. This photo sums it up – that’s me in the corner, all fat and pink and clinging on for dear life, but when she phoned this morning to say “you’re going to kill me mum, but I might stay longer” I told her that was a brilliant idea and why not, because after all, what has she got to lose? Tea for one is always a little bit sad I fear:-
It’s a very, very strange place to be as a parent. On the cusp of the next stage. The empty nest stage. Whereby I buy a motorbike and head off to South East Asia, or take up an extreme sport or travel the world. Or do an art class. It’s a new time and space and I am yet unsure as to how to fill it.
I guess, if I’d been with a “life partner” all this time, things would feel a little different because I wouldn’t have spent so much time focusing on the children. Or maybe that isn’t the case and lots of parents with partners feel the same opening up of space and feeling marginally panicky that they are going to have to start talking to their partner again after all these years.
I’ve cooked a meal tonight for two and eaten it on my own.
Time to reassess. Time to walk on. With the children still around, but swooping and flying, dipping in and out of my life which is as it should be. Time to work out who is going to come with me on my next leg of the journey.
That gossamer thread that takes you through your life. I think I might have accidentally lost it. Or broken it. Just need to find it again.
Still it’s a big world out there. Sure I’ll find some new passions…
Maybe I’ll take up gardening. I did go to see a splendid garden the other day and got all inspired. It’s called Hidcote Manor Garden in the Cotswolds and it was the inspiration for Vita Sackville West. Really stunning:-