The days go slow but the years go (really) fast…
I’m not sure how it happened, but I am an empty nester. There were times I thought I’d never get an afternoon sans children, and now here I am…. with more time than I know what to do with. My children are both away at university, the youngest having departed at the end of last summer. Leaving me with a truly empty nest for the first time.
Gone are the frenetic mornings of checking on PE kits and instruments, and the rushing to school for afternoon pick-ups. Coffees with friends are now civilised affairs and there is even the luxury of finishing gym sessions in a leisurely manner.
And yet…I do miss them. I walk past their unnaturally neat rooms and remember the chaos that they used to be, the music that I had to shout over to call them to dinner and the perpetual picking up of clothes…. and I still miss them. I miss our family discussions over the dinner table punctuated with eye rolls when non-woke comments are made.
We now communicate over WhatsApp and FaceTime, and I get the most random questions on food preparation and laundry, which I always welcome, as it means they are actually cooking and washing their clothes. They are getting used to living on a budget – so salami sandwiches instead of a hot lunch and walking instead of taking the bus are now things they consider normal.
It’s bittersweet – I am sad they have left and we have an empty nest, but I am genuinely excited to see them moving on in their new lives. I want them to experience new things and new places, and I’m so glad the easing of the pandemic has meant that they can do so, although the slightly haphazard way they navigate their lives does cause some parental anxiety… we were never that disorganised, were we??!!
The presence of social media and video calls is both helpful and not, and in some instances, can (and does!) cause stress. I was so used to knowing exactly where they were at any given time that in the early days, I wondered how I would cope not knowing this…. Now, I am learning to let go and resist the temptation to track them 24/7.
I am also learning not to jump in and problem solve, but to sit back and help only when asked; adulting can be tough and some lessons have to be learnt on one’s own. However, letting this happen is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as a parent. I now operate on a “sometimes-that’s-too-much-information” basis.
After so many years of being known as someone’s mum, I’m learning to be my own person again as I find time to pick up old (and new) interests.
Meeting people at events like The HUB Geneva’s Fortnightly Walk and Talk Sessions has let me connect with people with like experiences, as well as people with different but refreshing perspectives, and I am reminded that this empty nest period is but a new step in my own solo journey.
And yet… it is SO nice when my children are home for the holidays. I sleep better when we are all under the same roof. The house seems fuller and more energetic; although this is of course only after they wake up, usually past noon. Even the mysteriously emptying fridge and bickering doesn’t dampen my mood… my family is HOME.