A lovely guest blog this week from a Shropshire mum on children who fly the nest….then fly back for a while!
I was carrying a pile of laundry downstairs just now (a high pile as ever, with the top layer blindfolding me) and thought I’d reached the bottom step. It was a welly, not a step, so I skidded a bit, whacked my knee on the door, swore, and scattered my smalls across the hall.
And then I looked again, and realised there were four wellies, at various jaunty angles, arranged like an assault course.
They’d been there 48 hours, cluttering up the place, and no one (including me…) had bothered to pick them up and put them away. Unremarkable, maybe, but it made me think how long it had been since a jumble of much smaller shoes and wellies were an everyday sight…just there.
These ones belonged not to toddlers, but to daughters aged 16 and 22 – clearly old enough to tidy up after themselves. But the sight of them, slip or no slip, still made me smile, because for a short while at least, both ‘fledglings’ are back in the nest together, four years after the older one flew away to University. And we’d donned waterproofs and scarves and yomped off for a wintry walk round Attingham – just as we’d done when the girls were small. Then kicked them off and rushed into the kitchen for our Sunday roast.
So it was a Sunday full of smiles. But there are often times as a parent, tough times, when the kids are playing up, the house is a bombsite, and you feel so tired and haggard, you daren’t look in a mirror or even answer the phone.
You sometimes find yourself counting the days until you`ll be ‘alone’ again. Just the two of you. With peace and quiet and the chance to do whatever you want, without explaining it several times over; the chance to jump in the car and head off somewhere without a ton of food, drinks, bottles, nappies and toys. And noise. (‘No, we’re NOT there yet…not even NEARLY’)
They grow, they leave, sometimes, and you gulp, hate the fact that you ever pined for peace, and start reading magazine articles about the ‘empty nest’ syndrome.
Once upon a time, that was it, pretty much.
But then the economic climate turned decidedly chilly, and many families found that birds who’d flown the nest, were flying back home again. Jobs just weren’t there. Rents were going through the roof. Home offered a chance for new graduates to get their finances back on track; and take stock of their achievements, and their hopes for the future.
I guess that’s what’s happening here, for the moment. Our eldest has been away in London for three and a half years, studying and working. She has a good degree under her belt, two summers of valuable, paid work at kids’ camps in the USA on her CV, and is coming to the end of her three month work contract in the capital. It’s given her experience of office life, of managing a team, recruiting skills…and surviving the daily commute. Like all graduates, she has student debts to pay off . And her eye on a career in arts administration when the time`s right. Living back at home for a while, instead of in London with rocketing rents and punishing council tax, will give her the chance to work part time instead. And alongside that, with any luck, she’s hoping that a part time internship or unpaid work experience will add vital new lines to her already impressive CV.
Did I expect it? No, like many mums, I waved her off at 18 and mentally closed a very happy chapter in our lives. Do I welcome it? Absolutely. Her sister will love the company again (and an entirely new and different wardrobe to dip into…) We’ll enjoy the discussions and downtime with our now adult daughter–and she`s a mean cook, so she’s welcome in the kitchen, anytime(!) I know her qualifications, nous and niceness will land her the career of her dreams in London, New York , Paris or pretty much anywhere, when the time`s right.
But for now, we`re four again. And very happy about it.
As long as she picks up her boots.
Jane McIntyre is a former award winning BBC producer and newsreader, and the mother of two daughters .She lives near Shrewsbury, has a gold star in spinning plates; likes running, and can`t bake to save her life. She regularly blogs at www.lovemymondays.blogspot.co.uk