On Having an Empty Nest

This has been a momentous weekend for me, as my son has left home to live with his girlfriend and my daughter has gone back to Uni after her Easter Holidays. My nest is finally empty, just over 20 years since my first chick hatched.

So how is it? Very odd, is the answer. Half of me feels very proud of having done my job well and raised 2 fabulous people who are now carving out their own lives, doing what they want to do and biting great chunks out of life. When I think back to myself at their age, there’s no comparison. I didn’t go to University because I was too scared, and that fear of the unknown has held me back all my life – until last year, when I finally broke free. That’s almost 30 years of being ruled by fear! In contrast, nothing seems to set my children back and from my observation, the vast majority of their generation seem to have the same outlook – that life is for living and all you need is some determination.

The other half of me can’t quite believe that I no longer have to be a full-time Mum, ie think for other people and make sure everything’s all right for them. Obviously that side of things has taken a back seat in comparison to how it was when they were little but as every Mum knows, you never really stop thinking like that. I’ve found that out of sight is out of mind as far as my daughter is concerned, so when she’s at University it doesn’t occur to me to worry about how she’s doing – I know she’s capable and having a good time but what time she comes in at night (or doesn’t), how much she’s drinking and whether she’s eating healthily is no longer my concern so I don’t think about it. I know she’s sensible and I know she’s focused on her future, so why would I worry? She’s an adult, making her way in the world.

The same will be true of my son, once I’ve got over the sudden absence of him. He’s a big personality and he’s much taller than me, so when he’s there he’s very much THERE and at the moment it feels very odd that he’s not THERE any more. I find myself thinking a lot at the moment about when he was a baby and a toddler. I also find I’m thinking about the times when I was overwhelmed by the demands of raising 2 children with only 17 months between them, suffering from depression and becoming a single mother. There were times when I thought life would always be that hard and that I would never have my own self and my own life back. The good news for anyone currently in that position is that it DOES get better and you DO get your own life back – mine’s been coming back to me for years now, and last year was the culmination of it. And now that my nest is empty, the sky really is the limit!

So despite the pangs, I’m choosing to see this time as a reward for all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 20 years. I gave my kids roots, and now I’ve given them wings and they’re flying high. Good for them. My own tether has got looser and looser over the last few years and now I too can take to the skies, knowing that I’ve shed the fear monster from my back so I’m lighter than I’ve ever been. There’s a world of opportunities out there, and I’m going to grab them!

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