Friday, 14 August 2015

discovering I'm a HEN

#midlife blog crestingthehill.com.au

For years I've fought off the idea of becoming an "old chook." Now it turns out that rather than being a chook, I have instead become a HEN - and it's actually a title I'm quite happy with and proud to claim ownership of!

There's been a couple of articles floating around that I've come across lately, one here and another here where women at the same stage of life as me have been classified by researchers as HEN's - Happy Empty Nesters. I just loved the term and couldn't wait to officially link myself to this acronym because it's such an affirmation of my idea of parenting.

I've listened to friends bewail the fact that their offspring left the nest. One friend kept her daughter's room unchanged for years, another stood in the doorway of her son's room when she got back from his wedding and cried. I stood in the doorway of my son's room and wondered what I'd do to re-decorate! There are no shrines to our children here, no rooms left untouched for them to return to, only a few mementos kept to pass on later down the track. (After politely accepting the grotty old toys that my husband's parents passed on to us, I decided that the grandbabies can have stuff of their own rather than moth eaten hand me downs).

Don't get me wrong, I do miss my two "fledglings" at times, but I am really proud of the job we have done with our parenting. I loved that we were confident that they were ready to move out of our home in the country to see what living in the city was like. They left in their late teens to go to university, each set up house with a friend and looked after themselves remarkably well. They have thrived and created independent and productive lives by standing on their own two feet (knowing that we were there if they needed us).

I love that we haven't paid their way, that we haven't had to rush off to rescue them every time something didn't go according to plan. I love that they supported themselves through university and now have jobs in their chosen fields. I love that they have each met and married wonderful people and are now in family units of their own. Despite all that, I sometimes wish they lived closer, but the fact that they are established and making their own way in the world also gives me a real sense of pride and a quiet sense of satisfaction. 

#midlife blog crestingthehill.com.au

The house is certainly emptier and quieter without them home, but I also don't lie in bed at night waiting to hear the front door close to know they're home. I don't worry when I hear police sirens in the distance - I know they're not chasing my son in his speeding car or attending to a crash they might have been in (the constant worry of a mother who has teenage drivers at home). I don't have to think about how many I'm feeding at dinner time - there's always just the two of us and my husband has taken over most of the cooking lately so that is a bonus too.

Not feeding, clothing and paying expenses for additional people has meant that we can live on a much lower income than we would need to have if they still lived at home. We both only work part-time and our income still meets all our expenses now there is only the two of us to support. We are free to come and go whenever we like - the only "offspring" we need to worry about are the two cats - and they are pretty independent too (and cheap to feed!)

So, all in all, I am loving being a HEN - knowing that my fledglings have successfully flown the nest means that I can enjoy this stage of life. It's great to be able to think about myself first (after all those years of being last on the list) and to give my husband some time and attention. It's also nice to know that there are plenty of other HEN's out there celebrating their empty nests too - and not weeping or wailing over the empty bedrooms. I'm just hoping that we've done such a good job of launching them that they stay that way and don't think about boomerang-ing back!

#midlife blog crestingthehill.com.au
I even found a badge for celebrating HEN-dom!

20 comments:

  1. I'm totally looking forward to redecorating my daughter's room, but am fine with her being here as long as she wants. I will miss her (she does a lot of cooking) but it's her life. :)

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    1. Hi Kim, nothing like a bit of re-decorating to make you miss them less......we also moved house a couple of years after our youngest moved out - now they use the "guest room" when they visit :)

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  2. Hi Leanne,
    You got me with this one HEN. I didn't know what it meant and so was happy to read your story.I think when you did your job as parent well (like you certainly did Leanne!) then there are no guilt feelings or emptiness. To me sadness and emptiness in our hearts is created when there are not-resolved-issues with family members. But when we feel that our kids are happy and alright, then there can be no question of sadness. The only time I get close to feel a sort of happy-empty-nest-thing is when my kids are at school. Gosh, it's quiet then:))))
    xx Abby

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    1. What a lovely compliment Abby! And yes it is a good feeling knowing your kids are doing well and you can just tuck them into the back of your mind and send up a prayer for them each day. Enjoy your school time hiatus and enjoy the peace :)

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  3. You are a little ahead of me, as my kids are still in high school and college. But, I am pinning this post Leanne - and making you my role model for how to be a HEN!

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    1. That's lovely Susan - HENdom descends upon us more quickly than we expect and I'm sure you'll enjoy your time when it arrives - in the meantime I'll try to keep inspiring you :)

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  4. I just love this acronym - HEN - and I look froward to the day I'll be able to use it. I still have 3 kids at home, and hopefully that will change in the next year. I look forward to the day when I can declare myself part of the HENdom! Coming over for a visit from #MidLifeLuv.

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    1. Hi Renee - you'll be a HEN before you know it - enjoy the kids while they're at home and then push them gently out of the coop :)

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  5. It's a clever term! And good for you for embracing it with gusto.

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    1. Thanks Mithra - you either embrace it or you're miserable - I know which one I prefer :)

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  6. Hi Leanne! I've never heard of the HEN acronym before but it certainly sounds like something you should be very proud of being. I don't have children but if I'd been a parent I think I would have been like you because I sort of follow the version of having children the way Kahil Gibran talks about them. I've always felt that the best you can offer a child is the resources and confidence to make their own way in the world and it sounds like you've done that. And now look at all the benefits it's brought you at this time of your life. Congratulations! ~Kathy

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    1. Thanks Kathy - I think creating independent children is a great achievement. Whenever I start missing them I remind myself of how well they're doing and then settle back into my very nice twosome lifestyle and HENdom :)

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  7. I am a HEN as well!!! Well unless you count momma who moved back in with me. I was excited when my kids left home. I offered to help them pack...hell I even gave them furniture "No don't worry take it I'll buy more" haha! I had a list of things I wanted to do since I was no longer responsible for a living person. Mine lasted about 2 years. I miss it so much, but the alternative is not something that I am ready to deal with.

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    1. Hi Rena - mum's don't count because she is a HEN in her own right (maybe an old boiler!) and I gave my kids furniture too - my daughter tells people I sold her bed before she'd even left the house - she did get to keep her mattress!

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  8. This is the first I have heard of the phrase HEN, but I am happy to be one!

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    1. We can all love HENdom together :) Welcome to the club!

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  9. 'Enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing! #MidLifeLuv

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  10. What a nice post and an encouragement to those who have not reached the 'hen' stage to work at making their children able to function as independent adults.
    Thanks for helping us all at Fridays Blog Booster Party #19
    Kathleen

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    1. Thanks Kathleen - I always look forward to the Blog Boosters

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