A few of my friends have older children who are getting ready to leave home and start university. They all appear to be very calm and collected about it and are preparing themselves and their children for the transition. Many have been teaching their kids how to cook, how to do their washing and maintain their finances. It all seems very civilised. Cue and contrast my own vision of what will happen when my kids leave home. There will be a lot of dramatic sobbing (from me), lots of gesticulating and lots of emotion. I picture myself grabbing hold of Flump by one leg, being dragged across the room as she tries to shake me off and make a swift departure. It will NOT be pretty and it WILL be dramatic. Nothing fills me with more dread than having an empty nest and seeing my friends prepare for it is giving me palpitations.
Some of my friends are in fact insisting that their beloved cherubs “live out” and do not reside too close to home so that they can develop their independence and have the “full university experience.” Say what??? I know that all sounds very sensible and pragmatic, but for me, I can’t think of anything more traumatic. Sob.
Letting go of the little babies that we once rocked and cradled is not an easy process. We invest so much of our emotions and time into them and watch them grow up with such alarming speed. I still think of Flump as the round, cuddly baby who would bounce around and giggle in her rocker chair, and of Ludoo as the pukey little bundle who would cling to me and howl continuously. Fond memories indeed. And now, here I am, contemplating their departure from home.
Ultimately we just want the best for our children, and that will often mean swallowing a chill pill. It’s a natural parental instinct to protect but a more damaging one to control. Our kids have to find their own way in the world and it’s our job to prepare and enable them to do that. After all, my own parents did the same for me, and look how well I turned out??? (No comments please).
Our children will eventually and excitedly head off into their new worlds, and we will be left, to some degree, with an empty nest. Hence it’s important for us to keep ourselves fulfilled by developing our own interests, activities and projects away from the kids. It may help to ease the transition. Heck it may even be an opportunity for us to reconnect with our other halves and rekindle what we may not have previously had time for. It’s never too late for a bit of romance. Or better still, how about a world cruise?
Although I have some way to go before my own offspring leave home, I find myself trying to mentally prepare for it. I may be excitable but I’m not deluded. It will happen and I will have to deal with it. It keeps me focussed on really making the most of the time that I have with them now and on creating positive childhood memories. Whilst the early days of family life are, without a doubt, precious, who is to say the years ahead won’t bring with them a new quality of life and connection with our kids? I really hope that we will be able to laugh with them and enjoy them in a new way; as friends, as confidants and as trusted companions.