This year, I have been a parent for exactly half of my life.
Wow, what a journey. I am certain it has been the making of me, and I can't imagine my life without them in it, but I'm beginning to understand that daily contact is not necessary!
Our eldest moved away from home last December, 3000km away. Where all the cool people live. (waves at Melbourne). He is back at the moment for my birthday, and it is actually strange having him under the roof again (yes, he still has the same squeeze). No flies on him though - at what age do they stop hoping to cadge free shoes from parents?
When he left home I was a bit of a sook for a while. I figured out that it was because I didn't know when I would see him again. In the past I had had a date on the calendar for when he would walk in the door again. I was quite bereft without him, and was struck by how much I missed his presence, his bulk, his hugs and his company. I realised how unnatural it was for me to not be able to picture where he was. I had given birth to someone who was now a large man, roaming the Earth in a different city, and being all . . . functional and adult and grown up. Someone would see my son walking down the street, and interact with him, appraise him, like him or not, and it was out of my ken. I was not a face in that particular crowd. I was not breathing that same air with him any more. He was not returning to me. I felt the apron strings come undone. I had underestimated the lump it would make in my throat.
Once I figured out that it was a lack of a calendar entry that was troubling me I had to mentally commit to a visit to Melbourne mid-year. The separation then became easier to bear, and I settled down, and could think about him without become teary. I enjoyed my mental image of a confident capable adult son out in the world.
When I arrived home one day in late-March after a super day at work, with TWO births I was as high as a kite and bursting to share the fantastic day I had had. It was also our daughter's birthday, so all in all a great day, with a restaurant meal to look forward to. My key was in the door when I heard an adult male voice talking in the kitchen - he had been brought home on FF points by the squeeze as a surprise for his sister's birthday! He had been in town for 2 days already, lying low for a surprise! He scooped me up in a huge hug, and was really very tolerant of me patting him reassuringly all evening. I was so surprised, and so delighted. It was brilliant.
Our youngest is still home, and likely to stay here for some time, although she is keen to move out, in principle. She is not working at the moment, had to resign her job due to terrible eczema/dermatitis on her hands. Her health has been quite challenging in the last 9 months, with one thing and another, and the appointments are very frequent. We thought we were off all that frequent flyer stuff, but she has had 2 operations and not too many answers, although it is reassuring to have ruled some stuff out. She is doing one afternoon of maths refresher stuff at her level, and other than that sits on the computer/ watches DVDs, plays her music (Glee anything) and obsesses about the cat. She finds it really hard me being out all day with this new job, coming and going as much as I do. She has few friends and doesn't go out much, and is not nearly as independent as most people her age, although that is improving. She really needs to meet a sweet boy, but doesn't go anywhere to meet any :( She has however taken up the challenge of cooking dinner one night per week, which is a help. Now - how to trick her into taking up the rest of the housework! Well, thats not strictly fair, she does do a bit of food shopping as well during the week. However she has NO idea how to plan major stuff, and we are frustrated by her passivity in this matter. If she moved out next week it would be a fast-track to boredom, anxiety and malnutrition. . ..with added cats. We are starting to look into future options.
DD was away for a fortnight in April and we experienced the wonder of the empty nest.
And we want MORE!