Really I don’t know if it a syndrome, but the empty nest is something. Some people love it, some hate it. Me, well, that would spoil the post if I told you now.
It is a funny thing how you wait to have children. I know I did. It was something I craved, to become a mother and then when it happened I found it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. All my life I wanted it to happen, but when it did, wow, I was shocked. They were so much work.
Becoming a mum
It happened, and it happened as a surprise. While my husband and I had started thinking that we would like to have children the first one came along a lot sooner than planned and then followed by another surprise. Again, much sooner than planned.
My first daughter was born in 1994 and the second in 1995. They are 15 and a half months apart. Good, maybe. Bad, maybe. It is hard to know, but this post really isn’t about my being a mum, but more about them growing up and leaving.
They were very close when they were young. At that time they did a lot together, but as the teenage years happened they did grow apart. They were each looking for their own identities.
I wasn’t one of those mothers that did everything for my children. I believed that my role as a mother was to prepare them for the real world. To get them ready to face what was out there. Doing everything for them, fighting their battles and being their friend was not my job. Doing that also meant they wouldn’t toughen up and be strong enough to cope with what was put in front of them.
They learned from a young age that life was fair. In fact, my eldest used to say when something went wrong, “that’s because the life isn’t fair”. It was very cute, but so true.
By the teenage years, they were cleaning up after themselves, or not as was the case with their rooms. They were doing their own washing and buying all their own clothes.
We put them on budgets when they were teenagers to buy their own clothes. They got more pocket money than other kids but they knew anything they wanted to have had to come from that. They became very cunning shoppers and always looked for bargains. We never had that time where everything had to be designer or whatnot, because they couldn’t afford it. It was one of the best things we ever did. They are still like that now.
I love their independence and always encouraged it. Of course, there were times when I was scared for them, but I didn’t stop them. They had to experience the world on their terms.
From the time they were small I have been telling them that as soon as they turn 18 they are out. My eldest came to me one day saying that when she turned 18 she would still be in her last year of high school so would it be okay if she waited until the end of the year? Too funny.
They knew we wouldn’t kick them out, but I wanted them to realise that home was a place to grow up in, but not a place to live forever. We would always be there for them, but they needed to experience the world and do that with few responsibilities.
Some of the best years of my life were those after I stopped living with my mother and until I got married. It was when her nest became empty and I’m sure she didn’t think it was a syndrome either. It was a time of independence, coping on my own and learning how to survive before everything got too serious.
I don’t understand parents who want their kids to go straight from home to a mortgage. To go from no responsibility to massive ones. I think easing them into it all is so much better. Hey, that could just be me.
We were very flexible parents. Once they turned 18 and became adults we knew we had to let them make their own decisions. Not that it was always easy, but we did it. You have to.
The first one moved out almost four ago and she loved it. I asked her once why it was better than living at home. She said it was the freedom to do what she liked without having to tell us what she was doing. If she went out and was going home at 6 am and wanted to invite people back with her then it didn’t matter. It’s true, and if she was at home it would matter.
The other one has only just moved out and she loves it too. She is closer to the city. From what I can make out she is having the time of her life so far.
It is an exciting time for them. We have to believe we have given them the skills they need to do this.
The nest is now empty
Now our nest is empty. Is there an empty nest syndrome?
I don’t know, I just know that I am really happy to be starting this new phase in my life. My husband and I are getting reacquainted without the disturbance of children.
The house is being sorted out and we are getting it ready for us to live in by ourselves for the next whatever years.
One thing we are so very grateful for is that we never extended our house. It is still the small three bedroom home, one living area that it was when we bought it. No need to downsize, as this is perfect for us. Now we are looking at how to make the house work for us as we get into our later years.
The nest may be empty but it isn’t a time to be sad. We are so proud of our daughters and what they are and have achieved. Also, we are confident that we did the best to raise them and know that they will be able to cope out there.
We are happy and we know we will save a lot of money now. We can make our home ours as we want it. Not as they think it should be.
None of that here. We are so happy and really enjoying our time without our girls living here. They will still drop by and we are sure from time to time they might need to live here again, but they will go again.
It is our time now and our time to find out what is out there for this middle-aged couple.
So it isn’t about them going forth and multiplying, but going forth and exploring the world in their way.
For us, the multiplying has been done, so it is more about exploring life after kids. Finding out who we are now that they have grown up and left the nest.
I did a blog post on my photography blog is you would like to hear what I have planned, Making Plans for Summer and Beyond