Any empty nesters out there? I actually really don’t like that term but it does describe exactly the situation that I find myself in right now along with lots of my friends. Some are a bit ahead of me and have already adjusted to the fact that their teenagers and young adults have ‘flown the nest’ and others have it all to come.
So you are probably wondering why I have called this post 23 skateboards? It’s probably going to be the title of my next book and that is because when my eldest son moved out earlier this year he left behind 23 skateboards…under his bed!
To be fair to my youngest son who moved out 12 months ago the title should be 23 skateboards and millions of Match Attax! For those of you who have no idea what Match Attax are they are football cards beloved and collected by millions of young footy fans and earnestly swapped, sold and cherished. We really do have millions.
I could add into that massive trainers, loads of baseball caps and bits of motorbike. Because even though the boys have gone and are not even particularly frequent visitors, their stuff still remains here.
You would think that this makes the grieving process (and I believe it is a type of grief) of children leaving home so much better but it actually doesn’t at all. It doesn’t mean that the bedrooms aren’t empty or the fridge isn’t still full or the towels aren’t on the floor or you can’t hear a ropey guitar practice session going on upstairs or an animated football match commentary.
It actually makes it all much worse. Because they are there…but of course they are not.
We all want our children to grow up and get out there and live their best lives-that’s what parenting is all about-that is our job effectively. Luckily my offspring-now 20 and 23-are doing very well and are very happy. I know that makes a massive difference to me as well as to them. I know they are happy and getting on well without me. And I also know that they will always still need me-just in a different way.
Unlike many of my friends who are in the same situation, my husband and I do not have children of our own. He has four from previous relationships and I have the boys. Myself and my husband and my two have lived together since I remarried 6 years ago. This is relevant because for many of my friends who have remained married this can be an even trickier time. Relationship issues are often masked by parenting, and quite effectively too. Suddenly it really is just the two of you and if you have largely ignored each other for the last 20 years then this creates a whole new raft of challenges.
I am lucky because we are still firmly in the honeymoon period and so the fact that we have an empty house for most of the time does have huge advantages-although walking round your house naked even with the central heating on is only really fun for a few minutes.
I would have liked a book to read to prepare me for all this but couldn’t find a decent one so I am going to write one instead-to help all the other empty nesters out there trying hard to keep it together but who periodically sit sobbing on a bed in an empty room looking at 23 skateboards and millions of Match Attax. And yes, I do still listen out for the sound of a motorbike roaring up the drive and I really long to hear an angry footy match commentary. I hope these feelings will eventually pass and that after a weekend of seeing my children I don’t spend an entire Monday in bits for the rest of my life. It’s so annoying that all this coincides with the menopause. Mother Nature can be so cruel!
Better get on with writing that book I think and embrace the fact that while my children are off doing amazing things I can do the same-and so can you. So can we all. Midlife does not have to mean we are ’empty’ nesters it just means that part of our parenting mission is complete and now it’s time for something new-now we can ‘nest’ without the constant worry of feeding and nurturing and secure in the knowledge that the needs of our offspring are still there -mostly as an unofficial bank-may husband describes this as a polite form of theft!
We have done our jobs well-our fledglings have flown and now it’s time for us (I will just carry on trying to convince myself!)
If you would like to talk to me about your empty nest situation and experiences then please get in touch
I would love to hear from you.