Don't you just hate it when people seek to define you by your age, and even the latest kick in the face that life has just doled out? Just because I know my way around a computer (hey, I even mastered some of the intricacies of Excel this week), I would baulk at ever being called a 'Silver Surfer'. I would puke at the idea of becoming a 'pensioner' even though I yearn for the day when my pension pot starts to lavish me in rewards for saving all these years. And I absolutely hate being called a 'veteran' broadcaster even though it's true.
But one handle (a new one that's presumably been dreamed up by a young ad man somewhere in W1) has reduced me to spitting in anger. Apparently, according to the newspapers this week, I am one of a new breed of HENS. Yes, that's me, I'm a hen. And apart from the insulting clucking implication, or perhaps the suggestion that people my age have little brain and even less purpose, it stands for Happy Empty Nester.
It's as revolting and sweeping a generalisation as being called a Merry Widow - just because you get one with life, and dare to smile.
Empty Nester I may be - but happy at being so? Mmmm, that's a hard one to answer. Dropping your last baby off at university and driving home to a tidy house, a fridge full of food, and an upstairs full of bedrooms that don't whiff of rotting pizza, is a perplexing experience exposing equal amounts of dread and awe. Yes, it's a watershed moment - especially for a single mother. Perhaps couples in this situation do indeed eye the kids' bedrooms as potential gyms, saunas, bathroom extensions or even room for opening a b and b. Perhaps they do clink their champagne glasses and pull out from under the marital bed their secret stash of.... world cruise brochures, with an eager glint in their eyes.
I suspect far too many either cling to each other in bewilderment, or sit staring blankly, wondering how they're going to start talking to each other now there's no parents' evenings to attend, exam revision to do, nor sports kit to launder.
But for the single mum, suddenly an Empty Nester, it's one of those milestone moments reminiscent of coming back from the lawyers, decree absolute in hand, newly divorced.
Who am I now, you ask the wardrobe mirror. What sort of person am I now going to be?
But a HEN I am not. I refuse to be defined by the fact that my kids have all grown up, and that therefore I am happy to be free. Motherhood is a job that never stops, and neither do you want it to. I would never ever want to be 'free' from my kids, and I love the fact that they're always popping home. But neither does that mean that I live in a permanent state of mourning for the bustling family life we used to have. I can move on with a smile, learn to love being just me, and thoroughly enjoy time on my own. Can you imagine, after 28 years of always having children around, how amazing that is?
But call me a HEN and you imply that I'm happy to be free from my children - and I just won't have it. Unlike the appalling women interviewed in one national newspaper this week who proudly told the world that they regretted having all their children, that some were a 'mistake', whilst sitting for a photo-session with their brood, all of whom will have to live with the cruelty of Mum's words and her ghastly rant about wishing she'd stopped at two kids, now has to shop at Lidl instead of Waitrose, and holiday in Blighty rather than the Greek Islands. Ok, some mums might think it - but to say it in a national newspaper?
Children are a blessing and a wonder. Full stop. Yes, they're hard work and an eternal challenge and yes, they bring tears and woes as well as laughs and love, love, love. And when they've flown from the nest, you do have to learn to live a new life, and make up lots of excuses to lure them back home, if only for a weekend. Or meet up for lots of catch-up lunches.
I can adapt, but it will take a lot of re-learning. At the moment, I'm avidly painting walls, restructuring the kitchen cupboards and - oh yes - I am building myself a model railway. I have always wanted one and was hopelessly disappointed when none of my sons wanted to build their own. So now I am going to do just that - just for me. My kids think I'm becoming just a little eccentric - but hey, now I can be! Watch this space.
So, please, let's annihilate the concept of the HEN before it gains any sort of validity. I'm just a woman with a little more time to lunch, to build, to learn. But don't define me by my empty nest.