LEAVING THE NEST
All this blogging about parenting over the last couple of weeks has made me appreciate yet again the absolute joy of our empty nest. I know so many people who are worried about what their life will be like once the fledglings fly, but when you've prepared yourself and you know it's coming and you accept the inevitable change....it's amazing!
As a parent you spend years (decades!) focused on your children, raising them to be decent human beings and trying to provide them with interesting life experiences. Your life revolves around the family unit and making sure those kids of yours are well fed, well educated, well disciplined, well thought of, and well rounded. It's exhausting just thinking about all that time and effort......and then before you know it, they are heading out the door to greener pastures and waving blithely goodbye to good old mum and dad.
Some people find this really hard to cope with - how will they get by without their children around to keep them company and keep them occupied? What will their home be like without teenagers and 20 somethings floating in and out of the front door and in and out of the refrigerator? How will they manage not knowing all the interesting and engaging things their offspring are getting up to?
What I found with our two "kids" was that by the time they were hitting late teens, they were getting more protective of their privacy and less and less interested in having their parents involved in their lives - especially anything to do with their social life! Once they had that magic piece of paper saying they could legally drive a car, they couldn't wait to zoom off into the big wide world and start picking and choosing when they'd be home and at what time.
The more questions that we asked, the less answers we received. Our son in particular did not like us nosing into his business. He was very defensive of his space and the idea of deep and meaningful bonding with his parents was very low on his to-do list. He was slowly but surely separating himself from us and in doing so, he was preparing himself to cope on his own and preparing us to happily wave goodbye to his somewhat surly self (what a dreadful thing for a mother to say!)
THE PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING
By the time it was our daughter's turn to fly the coop, we had a handle on the whole "see you later, don't call me, I'll call you" scenario. She was a little less ruthless in cutting the apron strings, but nevertheless, she couldn't wait to have her own life that didn't involve having to let her parents know where she was at any given moment. Once she'd packed her stuff and headed off into the sunset, the house was very quiet indeed (one might even describe it as blissfully peaceful.)
Kids are really good at making the transition from nestling to fledgling to full flight. It would be such a shame to spoil it for them by being lost, and lonely, and needy, and trying to cling onto their tail feathers as they zoom off to a new life. We found it was easier to make the transition as painless as possible, to wish them all the best, give them any help they needed to launch and to let them know we were there if they needed us. Then it was up to us to reconnect, restructure and restart being a couple again - and it has been a lot better than I anticipated.
MORE TO COME
Rather than continuing on ad infinitum, I might leave talking about what our empty nest is actually like to later in the week when I do my next post. I'd love to hear what others did to make their kids' launch successful. It's such a joy to see them stand on their own two feet and not need to run home every time something doesn't go quite to plan. Independence is an amazing quality to watch develop in your children as they become young adults and strike out on their own.