My Empty Nest

As you hold your newborn in your arms for the first few weeks, at the back of your mind you know that one day they will utter the fateful words, “Mum, I’m leaving home.” That helpless, mewling baby, that relied on you for everything, will one day be grown up enough to pay their own council tax bill and put out their own bins. Allegedly.

My own ‘baby’, who at 7 or 8 swore she would never, ever leave home, has just decided at the age of 23 that she is big enough to stand on her own two feet and do you know what, I agree with her. Don’t get me wrong, I have a big rock in the pit of my stomach and as I have done since the moment she was born, I am catastrophizing about all the things that could happen. But it’s time, for both of us.

I was on my own with my darling daughter, virtually from the conception and I have brought her up by myself. Well almost. I have had a fantastic support network of friends and family around me and frankly being so independent I have relished going solo. My baby turned up six weeks early and that only added to our bond and for the last 23 years we have gone everywhere and done everything together. People often comment that we are more like sisters than Mother and daughter because of our closeness but the time has come for us to both let go a little.

Lots of women I know can’t seem to function without a man in their lives but not having a male around has never stopped us doing anything. We have travelled a fair portion of the world. We’ve learnt to scuba dive and my girl learnt to ski and snowboard, so she could come with me to the Alps. We have travelled round Cornwall in a 1960’s VW bus. We have weathered ill health, both mental and physical. We have borne financial hardship and the loss of loved ones. We have built and run our other website, Taste Today with me doing the writing and Frankie doing the photography. We have lived in each other’s pockets with barely a cross word.

I left home at the same age that Frankie is now and truthfully, I never looked back, but I was fiercely self-sufficient, and I was also escaping the car crash that was my parents’ marriage. My girl has, I hope, always had stability in her life, so I wonder how she will cope with having to be self-reliant. Of course, I will always be on hand for her and a part of me hopes that she will continue to need me. We have promised that we will still see each lots, have girly days together drinking cocktails, eating great food and shopping.

 

I will miss a lot of things, not least just the fact of her presence. After all we have been together virtually every day for the last 23, nearly 24 years. I will miss her humour and her boundless creativity. I will miss her kindness and caring nature. I will miss having someone to share the events of my day with.

On the other hand, there are lots of things I am looking forward to. Not getting woken up early on a Sunday morning when she has to go to work and I don’t. Seeing a reduction in my household bills. No longer being her on-site taxi service. Getting my independence back and being able to pick and choose what I do and when I do it. Mind you, I’m sure she’ll still having me running the odd errand and my days of responsibility at home aren’t over just yet. I still have two rather unruly rescue pups that need my attention.

I love my daughter fiercely and I would lay down my life for her in a second, but my little chick is fully grown and she needs to stretch her wings and soar on her own thermals. I’m not looking at the current weeks and months with dread and fear rather as a new chapter in the life of adventures we have had so far.

The following quote, which may or may not be from Mark Twain, has been my mantra for nearly thirty years and I hope it resonates with her and the way I have brought her up.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Photos: © Is It Warm In Here? Do not reproduce without permission

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