More Than A Mum -
When I mentioned my eldest is about to spread her wings and go off to become a popstar, a newly met acquaintance suggested I was becoming an empty nester. It had a tinge of sadness about the phrase - it felt 'old', 'has-been'.... and there is a whole syndrome associated with the grief that many parents feel when their children leave home.
No I've built up a mindset that I'm excited for my daughter to go and fly (not literally, we've had numerous conversations about the danger of drugs) and frankly I am looking forward to one less room full of clutter, wet towels and pants on the floor, arguments about how I really should be able to sleep when she is out in the middle of the night without worrying (are you having a laugh when clubs are re-opening and Covid is rife amongst the teens and I hear all the gossip about random snogging - let alone the newly released stats showing sex crimes in Scotland are at a 6 year high as the restrictions are eased .....)
I am allowing the natural and reciprocal process of us falling out of love with each other to happen - or so I keep telling myself.
Don't get me wrong I will be needing the giant Kleenex for the foreseeable future - I adore her and she knows it - hence she has managed to bankrupt me in the process whilst she moves into a flat with all our cutlery and crockery (ok I did want new stuff and it would have been a dam site cheaper buying student stuff than replacing ours but good excuse and all that ....and the fact that the Villeroy & Boch funky shapes would look good for my nutrition photos swung it for my OH!) .... I am already crying in the car to certain songs - don't play Schooldays are Gone from the Mamma Mia soundtrack in my presence - which she finds highly entertaining.
Ofcourse there is the issue that we might become subject to the Boomerang Effect - she'll come home around the time the youngest leaves and our parents need more support and we'll become sandwiched. Or do we reframe that and think positively about intergenerational living .... there are many pro's .... yikes mid life deliberations.
I prefer thinking we have decluttered her bedroom space and it will be minimalistic and calm for her return (I have promised not to touch the wall decor!) and she has lovely stuff to take away with her - rather than we've emptied her out. We will not be knocking the wall down to create a walk in closet for the youngest left behind.
And work - I'm lucky in that I control my schedule so I have deliberately timed new projects to co-incide with this change so that I don't have time to dwell - in a nutshell I'm using many strategies we talk about in wellbeing to make things easier. I've created goals, plans for 1:1 relationship development with the youngest (yes making that even harder when she goes) and definitely travelling more (to see her ...)
And my point is - we can go forward with excitement at times of change rather than focus on what we are losing. We live in interesting and fortunate times - when I went off my parents were lucky if I phoned home once a week. With facetime I've no doubt I'll be getting calls about how to cook something or where did we pack the plasters - yes I really have put a wee first aid kit in there!
But as everyone is excited about being back in routine - remember that for some this is just the start of the students / offspring leaving home season and there's a lot of emotional parents around. Be kind if you see us snivelling in the car at traffic lights .....