Confessions Of An Empty Nester

02/10/2017 11:55

Life changed massively when my first son was born. Until then I had been working in HR. I wasn't massively successful but it was still a professional job and I had taken all the necessary qualifications. So, you could say that I had a career of sorts. However, with the support of my husband, I decided to give up this 'career' and become a 'stay at home mum' instead. It was a huge shock! It is incredibly time consuming looking after a baby. No coffee breaks or quiet lunches. To be honest, day-to-day life can be pretty dull but very full on. Being a bit of a sucker for punishment, and with the long term view of providing a playmate for my little Prince, I had another son three years later. I continued with my pledge to stay at home with these demanding little people and four years later added a princess to the mix.

So, fast forward, 20 years and I have three fantastic young people in my life. Problem is, now they are interesting, funny, sociable, intelligent characters they are starting to leave home. Son one has been at Uni for a few years and son two has just started and, as a reasonably intelligent adult, I can see the way this is going to end.

I miss having a houseful. I miss being stupidly busy. I miss never being able to get on top of the dirty washing. I miss not having to do a weekly shop. I miss setting the table for five. I miss not being able to watch what I wanted on the telly. I miss standing in the rain watching football. I just miss having them around. Thankfully I still have my daughter at home but this is only going to be for another few years.

Two thirds down and I feel purposeless. I ask myself 'What is the purpose of me?' and struggle to come up with any answers. So now the 'stay at home mum' thing is coming back to bite. I have devoted all these years to three amazing people. But I no longer have any skills that an employer would be interested in, unless I want to be a taxi driver, work in a café or be a juggler in the circus! And, more importantly (and, possibly, insurmountably) I have no confidence to go out into the big world of work. There must be other 50ish year olds out there in the same position? Carry on like this and I will be an exhibit in the jellyfish display at Southsea Sealife center when the final third leaves.

Perhaps surprisingly, given a second shot at life, I would not do it differently. I think my kids gained a huge amount from me always being at home. I certainly feel privileged to have been there with them all the time. And I think life was easier for my husband with no childcare dramas. However, it kind of sucks when you devote your life to these precious human beings, then they grow up and move away, leaving you on the kirbside thinking 'now what?'

The words of the children's rhyme 'This is the House that Jack built' kept going through my head and I started thinking about the home that I had built. The purpose of this safe home was to give the tenants the confidence to walk away from it as secure adults. I've gone all serious now, but that's what I had done. So, I decided to write about my journey using this children's rhyme as a 'template'. The 'poem' reflects on the stage of devoting life to children, then feeling sad as they move away and then addresses how the mother can adjust and look forward to a life 'all exciting and new'. Imagine my joy when this poem was published as a book aimed at emptynesters called 'This is the Home that Mum built'! (It's even available on Amazon! -This is the Home that Mum Built)

I finally have the answer to my question 'what is the point of me?' I am no longer a redundant mother. I am an author!

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