Wow this empty-nesting thing hits you between the eyes every now and then – you think it is all going so well and you are enjoying your new found freedom, lots of me-time, an empty laundry basket and a full fridge, and then something triggers a little tear or two.
In my case it happened on Wednesday morning when my youngest daughter flew off on a two week holiday with a girlfriend and her family. It was an all expenses paid, money no object sort of trip, probably better than any we have ever treated our daughter to over the past 23 years but then it won’t be as good, she said (half-convincingly), because my family won’t be there. She has already sent me some pictures and I am not sure she will miss us that much!
Meanwhile our elder daughter is in Denver on a work trip which, in itself, is something because she was the bohemian, wouldn’t conform, not very sensible daughter! However there she is, 2 iPhones, business class travel and discussing world politics with me on Skype.
Of course you are wondering what is the problem as two weeks is hardly a life sentence. However I am off for three weeks with OH to Australia and so it will be well over a month that I won’t see any of my children. I know I am lucky to be taking this holiday, but it does make me realise that I could not bear it if my children moved to distant parts of the world. When I am in Oz the time difference will make live communication difficult so I will have to rely on email, whilst Skype will be more tricky to co-ordinate.
The worst bit of any of them moving to another country is how often would we then get together as a family and I suppose it would be few and far between. Those noisy and hilarious family meals, where everyone talks and no-one listens, the banter between us all because no-one knows you better than your own family and so you can just be yourself, would be a rarity and perhaps, as my friend with four children scattered around the world depressingly told me, once every three years if she is lucky.
That’s why when you can, you must drop everything for your kids and be there because you have to make the most of every minute that you have. You also have to relish and nurture your girlfriends who you can sit with and chat about your kids, who you can tell that you hate it when your children travel, moan to when your kids are too busy with their own lives to worry about you. Yes it is those girlfriends who you need the most when your kids have left home.
I remember when my Jewish mother-in-law died and I lost that perfect person who you could just call and tell when you were bursting with pride about something one of your children – her grandchild – had done and you knew she would be equally thrilled. There are still times when my OH and I say, “Wouldn’t Grandma Betty have loved to have heard about this”. She was the sort of grandmother who, if I told her one of the children was ill, she would travel by train (she never learnt to drive) and turn up, sometimes in the pouring rain, with a saucepan of chicken soup, or Jewish penicillin as it is better known!
So, as I prepare for my holiday, packing my suitcase and closing up the house there is a tiny bit of me that says I don’t want to say goodbye and be that far away. In over 27 years this will be the first time I have ever done this but I have to admit to being a tiny bit excited as well!
P.S. Just a few words about my two sons…..the eldest will be too busy running his business to miss us too much and the youngest is at uni and I am not sure he has even clocked that we are going and so won’t miss us unless he needs funds!