I didn’t believe people when they told me that I would get used to the empty nest AND even enjoy it. But the truth is you do get used to it. For example, you get used to not having to worry overly about supper. The husband flings a couple of chicken breasts into the airfryer, I open a packet of salad (I am exceptionally talented at opening packets) and that’s that.
When the Lastborn came back over the Easter break, I was reminded how much work it used to take running a household. So, although I was sad waving her goodbye, a couple of days later there was a sense of relief…that we could just go back to only bothering about cooking something exciting when we felt like it.
And not worrying.
As fave, Nora Ephron says, “The worrying is forever” and I don’t think she’s wrong there. But when your kids are not with you, you live in happy ignorance of what they’re getting up to. As opposed to when they are in your house and they’re out at night. Or even staying with a friend. The Lastborn went on the razzle to Babylon and stayed at a friend’s house.
We saw the friend’s mother on our morning walk to Croft who cheerily said “Your daughter? Is she with us? Really?” Which immediately sent us into a mild panic. There was a lot of: “If she didn’t stay with Friend XX, then where the hell is she?” We had to remind ourselves that when she’s in Cape Town, we don’t have a clue what she’s getting up to. Turns out she had stayed with said friend and there was nothing to worry about. But this is the kind of stuff that plagues you when your kids are home for a visit.
The other funny thing is accepting your child’s independence. I was chatting to the Firstborn about the trip to Italy we are taking later on in the year. His flight from the UK gets in at some inconvenient hour like 9.30pm or something.
- Me: I don’t fancy Dad fetching you in the dark at that hour, driving on the wrong side of the road. Maybe you should just spend the night in Pisa.
- Firstborn *amused*: That’s v sweet of you, Mom. But Dad doesn’t need to fetch me, I’ve already made a plan…
Well, of course. This is the kid who has been merrily travelling around Europe on all his breaks and exeat weekends and spent a week in France on his own over Easter. He doesn’t need his mummy telling him how to get from Pisa to our villa.
We were discussing his work options once he finishes up at the school, I mentioned that we picked fruit in Germany in the autumn when we did the gap year thing. We were visiting my cousin in Switzerland – right on the border – and basically just saw a farmer and asked him if he needed fruit pickers and then landed up staying with that family for a couple of months.
- Firstborn: yes, Mom but that was 35 years ago. They probably use machines to do that now.
He could have a point. I have no idea if they still use labourers to pick fruit.
What is difficult for me is that I know that I have to let go, we cannot all live together forever, but I do still miss them when they’re gone. I miss the bustle and the fun of having a full house, the water polo matches, the drama performances, the cocktail parties at the school. I’m missing it whilst at the same time appreciating the silence and the ability to work even more hours than I usually do. Yes, I know this makes no sense, but that’s how it feels when your kids leave. You know they have to go but you wish it wasn’t quite so far away, that they could still pop around for a Sunday lunch or a Friday night braai…
And the days of your kids getting hitched and living around the corner from you are dead and gone for most of us. We will be travelling halfway across the globe to see them. That’s why this trip to Italy is so important for me, because not only will I be with my beloved offspring but I will be with my siblings and some of my darling nieces and nephews and their kids. I realise now how spoilt I was when we all lived in Joburg and just took these en masse family gatherings for granted. Now it’s slightly more expensive to get together but still worth every penny.
We tried the new spot at Rosebank called Fugazzi. We had the Salumi e Formaggi Plank which is basically a snack platter for two, utterly delish. I thought I made the best pesto, but I think theirs might be better.
Also, they serve fab wines by the glass which is so perfect when you are practicing moderation and just want a glass or two and not a whole bottle.
After going to Fugazzi, because the solar had given out and we knew we had a couple more hours of loadshedding to get through, we thought we’d go watch a movie. We were too impatient to wait for Air and so went to watch John Wick. Um…no…just no. Love Keanu as much as ever but the movie is awful. When I realised it was almost three hours long and we’d only been there for an hour, we decided to grab our stuff and leave. Soz, Keanu but I don’t think we’re the target market. What is good is The Florida Man on Netflix. Very noirish with fantastic humour, we’ve only watched a couple of episodes but so far we are thoroughly enjoying it.
Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story – Bono’s memoir. The guy is a complete poet, I did not realise how spiritual he was, and he has an utterly fab sense of humour. I also adore the way he’s so madly in love with his wife after all these years. Not a quick read but it is beautifully written, and just a lovely trip down memory lane for those of us who grew up with his music. Plus, the Lastborn was born to “It’s a Beautiful Day” so U2’s music is extra special to me.
That’s it for this week. I leave you with a South African blessing: may your loadshedding hours be few and your solar panels produce more electricity than you could ever need. Happy reading! xxx