When your adult children fly the nest the emotion that a parent will feel is grief, you grieve for the loss of a way of life, you grieve for the adults you still see as children, most likely in your eyes not prepared at all for the big outside world. These little people we have grown and nurtured under our roof that we have tended to their every need, wiped their backsides, cleaned up their puke, held them as they cried, and then cried yourself as they walked away from you and out the door to start their own lives. The emotional time and effort we put into our children and the pieces of our heart they break every time they get hurt, they are quite literally part of our DNA so we grieve for the the end of a parenting era.
So, what happens when they leave? The void is huge, but the possibilities of a whole new life is exhilarating. Let’s start with the simple things; meals – you are not tied to cooking 2, 3 or 4 different meals because no-one will eat the same food, the diets, the food likes and dislikes, then the trying to keep it all warm for them when they come in from their various social engagments. You’re no longer an unpaid taxi service waiting up till the early hours to fetch them and a group of their friends from a house party. There are no towels left to dry on the bedroom floor and the dishwasher has dirty dishes stacked inside it and not left on top of it because they can’t work out how to pull the door open to fill it, you can finally charge your iPhone now the charger isn’t lost in their bedroom. Life becomes much simpler, but the learning of how to exist in this new world after 20 or so years of never putting yourself first is one of the hardest things to do.
With divorce rates at 42% in the UK can it be any wonder why couples find that when their children leave home, they loose a common interest? But this can be a time for couples to find themselves again to re-connect, almost like starting to date again but with so much more water under the bridge, after all you’ve been through some of the most emotionally difficult days of your life with your children and you’ve come out the other side still together and hopefully still liking and loving each other. But now with the house to yourselves you can start discovering each other again and that can be one of the most interesting times of all!
When our last child left home, as I sobbed uncontrollably on the doorstep as my husband drove her and a loaded van over 200 miles away I thought my heart was broken forever. But the realist in me gave myself a good talking to and much later that day when he returned with an empty van and no daughter, her room was freshly decorated. I cried as I stood in B & Q buying paint and I cried as I painted the walls, but I also knew I did not want the room to be a shrine, I needed to reclaim the house. So now when she comes to visit which always fills me with such joy, she has a room in our house to sleep in, we still call it her room, and our other daughter? Well her room is now my writing room, where I’m sat writing this, although there is a bed in here for her. Their home is not the rooms they slept in as they grew up, their home is us, the parents that raised them and the unconditional love from their dad and me.
A wise woman once said to me, ‘our children are not ours to keep’ and I couldn’t agree more, somedays we just need to remind ourselves of that as we go out and begin a whole new chapter of our lives as parents with adult children and then probably get a dog after all you once you’re a parent you’re always one…..and dogs don’t take your phone charger!