I’m going to say the thing we’re not supposed to say…I can’t wait until my kids move out. To be an ’empty nester’.
I’m in my mid-40s and I’ve never lived alone.
When I was 9, I moved in with my grandparents. When I was 18, I moved in with my very age-inappropriate boyfriend. When I was 19, I moved in with my mum, and lived with her for the first year of my baby’s life. Then my baby and I moved into a house, and I had roommates and siblings stay with me on and off over the years.
But I have never been truly alone.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. They are, without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever done. And I feel like I’ve done a good job with them. Are they perfect? No. Am I? Absolutely not. But they are capable and considerate and confident. And it’s those things that make it easy for me to say I can’t wait until they fly the coop.
I’m not going to push them out of the nest before they’re ready and I’m not going to turn my back on them if they need me. I have raised them to want to move out and start their own lives, even though they keep coming up with plans to move onto properties and take me with them, so I’m not alone – aka so I’m still around to cook.
I wasn’t expecting to be doing this solo. My ex and I had plans to travel the country in an RV and spend some time alone, together. He would go fishing and I would use this beautiful continent as inspiration to write more books.
But it was not to be.
Suddenly I had to come up with a whole new plan for what my life might look like without him after the kids move out and I become a single, empty nester. And after an initial panic attack, I realised my life is much less complicated without him and I started looking forward to my future again.
So, here are a few things I’m looking forward to when I become an empty nester.
To actually being alone.
Having the freedom to walk around naked if I choose to or stay up all night reading or writing.
To cooking meals I enjoy and worrying less about feeding picky eaters.
I have stocked up on cooking for one digital cook books and already have a list of meals I want to try.
To having everything stay where I put it, especially in the kitchen.
My kids, one in particular, has a habit of using something and putting it wherever he happens to be in that moment. And, honestly, it drives me nuts. I need to have everything in its place to function at a semi-normal human level and his brand of chaos exhausts me.
To saving money on the grocery bill and all utilities.
My kids enjoy lengthy showers. I’ve timed them and they can be in there for 20 minutes. Because they use so much hot water, I limit myself to five minutes, seven if I wash my hair. I would love to take a long, hot shower and look forward to the day it won’t use up all the hot water.
To getting to know my kids as adults as they learn and grow without me.
My kids are so wonderfully different people. My oldest has discovered politics and we’ve had so many fun conversations about it. Watching them as they relate to politics in different ways as they begin their transition, is amazing.
My middle child is a dreamer. His plans have plans and he’s not one to consider the realities of accomplishing his goal of the week. My youngest is full of anxieties about the world but wants to travel with their partner and I can’t wait to see them accomplish this goal. I want all my kids to have so many adventures and come visit and tell me all about them.
I love babies, especially babies I can hand back to their parents. Two of my kids have told me about their plans for parenthood and I’m so excited to see them welcome a new generation into the family fold.
They are already amazing with kids and I’m looking forward to the day they ask me to babysit so I can be ‘cool nan’ who teaches them how to bake and lets them bend the rules. I totally plan to fashion myself after the aunts in Practical Magic.
To travelling, but it looks a little different now.
I don’t drive so any travel plans I make will have to be via public transport, but that doesn’t bother me. There’s something romantic about long train voyages and new destinations. I plan to go to festivals and concerts, especially with 80’s and 90’s rock bands making comebacks. I have friends in different places who I can’t wait to go visit and reconnect with.
I recognise it’s not going to be as easy as it seems and there will be days when I am lonely and want company. But I know when those days come, my kids or other family members are a phone call or text away.
It’s a little terrifying when I think I will actually be completely responsible for myself and no one else. Such a large part of my life is caring for others and in that area, I can be a bit of an overachiever.
But I’ve earned this time and I am going to make the most of it without guilt because I know I’ve raised three caring, kind people who will be capable of surviving without me there all day, every day.