I’ve heard the term ’empty nest syndrome’ mentioned time and time again about people whose children have left home, but does anyone else have the feeling of premature empty nest syndrome like I do?
My children haven’t left home, don’t worry I haven’t sent them off into the world alone at just 10 and almost 12, heaven forbid. I’m sure they’ve fantasised about it though….. no-one to tell them that they don’t need their iPad two inches from their face or they’ll get square eyes (yes I promised myself I wouldn’t repeat phrases my own parents used on me but well…), no bed time, chicken nuggets for tea every night unless they mixed it up a bit and had pizza, and being able to do exactly what they wanted when they wanted.
Actually I’m kind of fantasising a bit myself now…….
No my children live at home still, but they’re at school for hours and hours every day and when they aren’t at school they’re talking to their friends from school on their various electronic equipment – that beeps and scares the life out of me when they are at school and I’m home alone.
When they aren’t talking to these friends in some way they’re outside playing with other friends or off at birthday parties, after school clubs or skulking upstairs with their bedroom door shut pretending to be tidying their room.
A few years ago I was pretty much the centre of their world, where ever I went they went…. willingly and everything. These days a family day out means I’m interrupting their plans or dragging them away from that level on the XBOX 360 that seemingly won’t exist if they put the controller down for a few hours.
At least once we do go out, they love every second of it. It’s like having my mini people back again, even if these mini people now come with a sense of humour that is probably slightly dirtier than I’d like. It’s not just me trying to not snigger at other’s accidental innuendos now, they get the rude jokes…. when did that happen?!
Who would have thought I would ever miss them needing me for everything, that I’d actually miss their constant nagging to play another game or to read them another book after the first five. The time has gone so quickly despite the toddler days sometimes seeming never-ending at times.
They still need me for obvious things like cooking for them – I’m sure they’ll learn to appreciate that one day, Fin’s medical needs with his Type 1 Diabetes and the other not so ‘fun’ parts of life, but they don’t need me twenty-four seven any more. Their worlds have opened up to so many more people, friends and experiences, just the way that they should.
So at times I do get a bit of premature empty nest syndrome, but at the same time I am proud of how much more independent they’re becoming. I’m proud of the glimpses of the men they will be when they are fully grown that I get sometimes. Proud that they will always be a part of me and a part of my life, whether they like it or not ;)
Also the times when they do want to snuggle up and watch a film with me, when we have a family day out full of laughter and the times when we’re all just being silly at home mean a lot more. I’m making the most of every moment until they become teens, just in case they become the hermit variety who never leave their smelly pit of a room, or the completely refuses to be seen in public with you type.
I’m now learning to take a step back, to let them make their own decisions and yes sometimes their own mistakes. I know they still need me more than they’d admit though, so for every step forward in their gradually more independent lives I’ll be there in the background waiting to catch them if they fall, there for the good, the bad and everything in between.
I’ll always be their Mum and they will always be the only people to know what my heart sounds like from the inside.