Emptying of the nest

It’s very interesting how we can go through life watching our friends carry on after their kids move on and leave home, without an inkling of how BIG a deal it is.

There’s many a joke about looking forward to getting our homes back and the peace & tranquility that inevitably brings.

It’s not until our own children start to leave that the true gut wrenching impact of the real end of an era is felt, or not felt as in my case.

My eldest left home on Monday to embark on his life long dream military training. I’ve known for at least the last 7 years that this time would come. He was ready and I was willing. We’ve had years of discussing the whys and wherefores of the bizarre truth that me as a peace loving anti war etc mother has produced a son who couldn’t wait to learn the skills needed and be part of a real war.

Nothing prepared me for the overwhelming numbness as the train with my 18 year old baby on it departs the station. In a daze I walked alone back to the car expecting tears at least. Not a drop. I ‘comfort shopped’ at my favourite healthfood shop realising that I didn’t need to buy the gallon bottle of local milk, or the extra bags of bread flour, or muesli, kefir…. And on the list went. So I bought two raw chocolate bars and accidentally the chocolate version of my coconut milk.

This week I have continued zombie like, preparing meals for the remaining boys and husband but at every fridge and larder opening another reminder of high calorie meals I no longer need to make.

I have a list as long as an assault course of work related jobs I need and should do but instead I’m wandering around on the endless circuit of laundry baskets. Thankfully the weather has been perfect for washing and drying pillows, blankets and coats my eldest left behind.

I’ve also managed to double book myself for various events- twice, miss a whole day and instruct one son to put all the recycling out a day early.

I’ve been blessed with friends who’ve gone through this before, so I have had visits and trips to tea rooms, a lovely reflexology treatment and lots of texts and emails.

Today I realised that what I am experiencing is grief, maybe even a tincy bit of depression. Void of emotion yet full of memories. The realisation that what was,and  will never again be.

I know he’ll be back, I’ll always be his mum and I’m prepared for him to return, eager to teach me how to iron and Hoover ‘properly’. I also know that he’s being turned into a man, by men with rules and expectations different to mine.

The voice of Windsor Davies ringing in my ears ‘ I’m your mother now sonny boy’ ….

We have no contact for five weeks. No phone calls, texts or emails. Absolutely no idea of how he’s settled in, has he made any friends, is it fun, tough, interesting, desperately horrible….

I’m also acutely aware of my so many friends who’ve had their only children leave for university, or travel the world, or even pass away through illness, mystery or accidents. In comparison I have nothing to be upset about, I have two still left here, I’ve done my job, an independant child following their dream career.

I have interestingly only this week started chatting with a neighbour who I’ve never more than smiled at over the past 12 years. He told me today that after he dropped his only son at university, 15 years ago, he drove to a garage to fill up his car , he went into the loos and cried his heart out.

What I’m really learning here is compassion, not just to all those friends who’ve gone through this before, and those yet to experience it, but to myself. This is a BIG deal.

Maybe this week isn’t about getting on with things. It’s a week to be quiet and let the feelings bubble up. I know I shouldn’t ignore all these feelings, that just gives trouble for the future. Bottling up makes things ferment ready for an explosion later.

I know time will make life easier to get on with things I want and need to do, but in the mean time, if you see me be aware the tears may come when we’re least expecting it.

I apologise to all the friends who’ve gone through this before if I said or did anything not understanding how you felt. I know now and I’m here for those of you yet to experience it.

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