Weekly catch-up: empty nesters

Both my sons moved out earlier this year. The oldest to the inner city. Where he feels comfortable. Among the buzz of hip life. Full of intellectuals, hipsters m, wannabes, freaks, drop outs, young urbane types.

My youngest has moved out with another young lad from our street to a flat on the harbour at Kirribilli, that looks directly onto the Opera House. No one can believe what they are paying. The views are to die for. And with its gentility, it’s more The Dreamer’s scene than the city and inner west. He can skate or train across the bridge to the city and then escape back north.

Both are keeping their rooms here. And the spare room which has lots of their stuff. And shoes on the front porch!!!

Even if I was so inclined, I couldn’t empty their rooms. Mr S wouldn’t let me. He wants to boys to be able to come home any time they want.

Older Boy comes back quite often. He is a member of an athletics club close by and he trains with them. He might sleep here about once a fortnight. Or drop by for dinner.

Younger boy is back several times a week – sleeping here about twice a week.

He also comes to wash, to eat dinner with us or to eat whatever we had for dinner (we often cook double quantities to save cooking every night). On being asked, “What’s for dinner?” I asked if he thought dad and I might be cooking for two now. The look on his face told me he hadn’t even considered that option. He just assumed there’d always be enough for him too. Well, there is but it means we will have to cook another night too. And to be honest, Mr S always cooks for about twenty people.

The Dreamer has also said he is returning when his lease is up in June. So he has not really moved out – not physically, not mentally, not permanently.

So while we get several nights a week as empty nesters, we are not really empty nesters. Will we ever be?

I don’t feel deserted. How can I be? They’re here frequently.

I don’t feel at a loose end. I have never defined myself as a mother. Anyway, I am still a mother. Mothering was never my whole purpose and I didn’t live through my boys’ lives.

I can’t miss their mess because it is still here.

I don’t miss their company because we still catch up. One weekend we all went to an engagement party. Next weekend, we all went out for lunch and drinks and chat in the city. And then there’s the nights they’re here. And The Dreamer works at my school a couple of days a week.

I quite like the quiet. No SHOUTY computer game talk. No midnight feasting, klompimg around the kitchen, tinging of the microwave. No loud, not my taste, music.

So no grief here. But then maybe it’s because the nest really isn’t empty as much as it is that I have other things in my life besides mothering?

What do you think? Have you suffered empty nest syndrome?

What I’ve just read: I have several books on the go. None finished yet.

What I’ve been watching: started the investigative 3 part series into the fire in the ghost train ride fire at Sydney’s Luna Park in 1979. I couldn’t watch most of episode 1. It was too harrowing. I felt dread at the thought that the producer was just bringing up the pain of the families of those boys who died so she could have a sensational show; promising them a “real” answer rather than an electrical fault. But fuck, it was powerful and emotional and well done. No one who watched wouldn’t be in tears. Unless you kept turning it to mute and looking away like me. So you could say I didn’t really watch it. But I did watch some, even more without sound.

My pick for the week: Fisk. Written by and staring my favourite female comedian, Kitty Flanagan. Cringy, laugh out loud, nodding in agreement with situations. It’s great. I love the young comedian, Aaron Chen, who plays the “Webmaster”. All round brilliant cast.

11 thoughts on “Weekly catch-up: empty nesters

  1. I’ve become an empty nester too this year as my youngest headed of to uni. First thing I did was clean the whole house. So far she has been back every weekend and then goes again with her bed unmade washing in the floor etc. she tells me her room is neat and clean at uni. I didn’t like to say she’s nit really there. I’m enjoying my quiet during the week though

    • Yep to the mess but claims other place is tidy! Get the same response.

      I hate looking in on the unmade bed! Might declutter and sort and clean all the rooms next holidays.

  2. My kids are 15 and 20 and both still at home though the 20-year-old wants to move out soon. I have mixed feelings about that. I can relate to the idea of not missing the mess, the midnight feasting, and the computer game chat though! I think you have the best of both worlds. You have time to yourself but kids who are home to visit a lot.

      • Yes, he is coming with us. He isn’t quite in a position to be completely independent yet. The state we currently live in has a high cost of living and where we are going is more affordable so he thinks it will be better for him. He doesn’t plan on living with us for long!

  3. Since my children range in age from 37 to 46, my nest has been empty for quite a long time. Not to say that there aren’t small remnants of their belongings still here–in the house, the garage, the shed. The fact that they have their own families and homes makes me feel as though I did my job. Can’t imagine them living with me again (I do like my quiet life)…or perhaps the reverse as I get up in years…me living with them, Not something I expect of them at all, but something they always tell me they would do in a heartbeat should I need them.

  4. We were raising children for 40 years, and are now enjoying our empty nest. It was a strange feeling at first, but traveling all over the world with my husband for nearly two years as soon as the youngest left made for an easier transition. I was a full-time mom for many years (I think because of my own issues with having a mom that worked full time, was always busy with little time for her children, and couldn’t wait to push us out of the nest) but never a “helicopter mom.” I always saw my job as getting our children ready to go out on their own and not need to come home other than to visit, even though they were and are always welcome. As Mary says above, seeing them now and again successfully managing their own lives, one having their own family, fills me with satisfaction that I did my job well.

    • I think it is also different in the US where young people go away to college. We don’t have that tradition here. Uni students generally stay at home and go in to uni daily, unless they’re from the country. Add in the cost of housing in our cities and young adults are staying home even longer so there’s less of a distinct time that they move out.

      Your approach to helping your offspring be independent is a wise one. And you’ve done well with it.

      • More and more young people are staying closer to home in the US when it comes to attending college or university as costs rise further and further into the stratosphere, with room and board costing more than tuition and fees. I’m intensely grateful all our children were able to go away and have a “college experience” on their own without driving us to the poorhouse (they all worked hard and earned big scholarships).

  5. I like that you get to have a “between” era. Link left home for university, didn’t complete their studies, but then lived on their own for 9 years. Now they are back home full-time to figure out their next steps. During that time I redecorated their room into a “spare room” but always made it clear they were welcome to return for any length of time. A lot of their younger-years “stuff” is still here and Link is gradually going through it, which is a huge relief to me – I was really not able to process it on my own! Several of my friends and co-workers with kids the same age have had them at home continuously since they were in high school – not unusual at all. Like you, I have always said that parenting is something I’ve done concurrently with many other things and they are all “of a piece;” my own identity is a blend of many roles.

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