It occurs to me that there are many misconceptions about the notion of empty nesting. People honestly believe that all the fuss is about that sense of loss that comes with the vacated bedrooms; the vacuum created by the departure of those people you have loved and nurtured for so many years.
Well, I suppose that may be a small part of it, but I wonder if it doesn’t mostly centre around the loss of access to the never-ending soap opera that is the life of a teenager.
You hear people wailing about missing their ‘stories’, but until you’ve lived with a high school student, you really don’t know drama.
How could anyone be bored when they can look forward to daily updates on the incessant stream of crises and traumas? No scriptwriter could match the excitement generated in the teenage mind over withering looks, sarcastic comments and blatant spite; the triumph of recognition and the tragedy when ignorant teachers inexplicably fail to acknowledge the brilliance simmering beneath the surface.
The unrequited love and torrid love affairs are stuff that Danielle Steel could only dream of. I mean, really, when Jenny is caught kissing Bobby behind the kiln in the ceramics room, even though we all know that actually Sarah likes Bobby and Mark likes Jenny – well no wonder it rocks the very foundation of the school and shakes our belief in human nature.
Of course all this does depend somewhat on having a teenager in the house who is willing to share the horrors that happen in school on a daily basis. I seem to have two out of three, which apparently ain’t bad. Goodness knows what goes on in the life or mind of the third.
That is why I need to find other distractions before my nest empties – I’m terrified I may be forced to resort to daytime television.
Summer has been extremely hard on all my resolutions and intentions vis a vis loosening the ties.
Unfortunately I’ve discovered that with the children home, I really do just want to spend time with them. When I drive the youngest to the skate park I want to stay and admire his prowess. When the middle one expects me to drop everything and drive him somewhere I’m pathetically grateful that he chose to endure 10 minutes in a confined space with me, rather than taking a city bus. When the oldest wants to sit and chat over a cup of tea I lose all sense of urgency and relegate those pesky project deadlines to the back burner.
So, I feel as though I’ve taken a giant step in the wrong direction, but heck when they’re gone, there’ll be plenty of time and empty house in which to achieve magnificent and productive things.
Having said that, though, I have rediscovered a buried passion for redecorating. When they were little I could let go of all kinds of stress by immersing myself in the joys of choosing colours, buying rollers and brushes and transforming a room – any room, it didn’t really matter.
When the children got a little older disaster struck, and they wanted to help. Suddenly my relaxing pastime became a nightmare of subterfuge and avoidance techniques.
Now that they are all in, or nearing, their teens, of course helping with anything is the last thing on their minds. Suddenly my painterly pursuits are my own again.
So, I have a transformed playroom, which looks so great that I am considering banning the children (although that being the case it might be prudent to rename it to avoid any unwanted connotations); I have a bright purple upstairs landing and a red front door. Fabulous!
September will come soon enough and then I will be return full force to the business of becoming an independent adult.