The Nest Is Empty



imageWhen you’re a would be free-spirited teenager who’s  restricted by parents who don’t seem to realise that you “have to” go to that party, have that latest makeup on the market , get that dress that all your friends already have… You can’t wait to fly the nest and become a fully fledged independent adult.

Can you remember the excitement, and fear that brings?…..The bills you never realised there were . The dodgy housemates. The even more dodgy landlords….. And how you wish you could just go back home to Mum and Dad, and be looked after again

I left home at 17 to embark on my chosen career, and have enough stories to probably fill a book! I had, older, strict parents who frequently curtailed my plans and fun! But I still remember sobbing into my pillow that first night away from them. Luckily, it didn’t last long, and I soon began to relish in my new-found freedom!

Then, you turn around, and low and behold you’re a parent yourself! Suddenly you see things from a very different prospective.

Your ‘role’ is to love and nurture your offspring. To help them develop into well-rounded, happy individuals….. And to prepare them to leave the safety of the nest, as you did…. But, oh boy! It’s not easy!

K was first to go, off to university to embark on her chosen career… Nursing as it happened…. In the run up to the big day I tried hard to remain upbeat and positive. After all, she was already a year older than I was when I left. And, apparently, I had often discussed the benefits of leaving with her!  But underneath the cheery smile was a deep fear and foreboding… Apart from anything else , she was leaving me in a houseful of males!

The day arrived and we packed up the car with all her worldly goods, all piled in. Her boyfriend (now her husband) was already there and  we were meeting him for dinner after K had dropped off her stuff. As she was doing a nursing course, she was to live in a Nurse’s home and not halls.  And it was awful! Looked older than the one I had lived in. It was dark, bleak, and a poor state of repair. Her room was tiny, with a window that didn’t close properly. Think ‘Prisoner Cell Block H’

Still, we laughed and joked and tried hard to mask any misgivings. After all, it was all part of the adventure.  After dinner, where I could barely eat a thing for trying to hold back the tears, we left K and G to their own devices and headed home. I still had to be brave for the boys. Although they seemed unaffected by it all. Laughing and joking that they had more room in the car without her.

That night N , who was 8, asked if he could sleep in K’s bedroom. I said  yes, but not to tell her. Later that night I went in to see him and found him in floods of tears. He cried all night in my arms…. And slept in her room every night until she came home again. In fact, when we bought a new bed for her, he insisted on having her bed in his room. And slept in it until he was. 17 and it was falling to pieces!!

A was next…I could write a whole blog about his comings and goings, just suffice to say he had a number of attempts at leaving, including an aborted attempt when he was about 4 and ‘had to’ leave when I hadn’t let him do something he ‘really needed to do’ He appeared with a backpack filled with books and a toothbrush!! And announced he was off. However he wasn’t tall enough to open the garden gate so decided to forgive me and return!! He rented our old town house for a while but returned home when housemates let him down, he didn’t have a job, and the (much reduced) rent was nowhere to be seen! There were a couple more of tries before he successfully managed to fly the nest. We even built him his own ‘self contained’ (sort of) place in the garden so he could be independent … And that’s another story!! Any way he eventually left to follow his girlfriend (now his wife) to London, and now is happily settled .

N, being the baby, was the last to go. He  left at 18, 2 weeks before Christmas, to move into the now refurbished town house, after some nightmare tenants. I bought him a tree and lots of decorations… And cried when I left him there. He still lives there at the moment, with his cat. And it’s the cleanest, tidiest house I think you’ll ever find a 23-year-old make living in!!

But the best bit of them flying the nest? When they come back!

K and G lived with us after they’d graduated and before they found a flat. The they moved back home for 3 months … Complete with 5 month old baby….and 2 cats ( who still live here) when they’d sold their first house and before they could move into their present one.

A, as I have said, has moved in and out a few times. The last, for 3 months complete with girlfriend,  when they fled London after being caught up in the riots and decided that city life wasn’t for them.

And N?  Well there have been 3 occasions after he’d had surgery to his knee and couldn’t really manage on his own. But as he only lives down the road, and parks his car on the drive still, he often pops in on his way to or from work. And, of course, to see his beloved cats. And, unless one of us has something on, we usually spend  Sunday evenings watching a series on tv. Homeland at the moment!

So  they are all happy and settled now, and the days I look forward to most are when they descend en masse, and the house becomes a home again. Filled with laughter and love.