Empty Nest

There is an abandoned cricket bat in the back of my car.

It’s a metaphor for the sudden emptying of the house.

My son forgot it there. I’ll leave it where it is; lying behind my seat. Then every time I open the rear door to dump or retrieve shopping I shall see it and can briefly imagine him home and ready to bat a ball about.

We came home from our school run to find the house too tidy. Too quiet. Too jolly empty. Tiny pokey rooms have found big voices in their echoey amplification.

You can see the floor in Amelia’s room; no longer is it strewn with shoes, discarded clothes which she optimistically hopes will grow legs all of their own and make their way to the laundry basket unaided. No longer is there a cockroaches’ banquet of cereal bowls encrusted with muesli under her bed (remnants of midnight feasts, my daughter a hungry owl who makes nocturnal forays into the kitchen whilst we are fast asleep). The carpet in her room is no longer tangled. It has been pulled regimentally straight as if to compete for brownie points with the hospital corners of her bed. Drawers and cupboard doors are closed, no longer regurgitating their contents in colourful ribbons that hang out waiting to party with the debris on the floor. Why do I nag her to tidy her room; it’s very neatness now a miserable reminder she isn’t here.

And Ben’s, smaller, is similar, clinically spic and span. His bats (all but one) are standing to attention in the corner of the room, no longer languishing on the floor waiting for a game, waiting to trip me up. His shoes lined against the wall, toes pointing orderly ready to salute. I sit on his bed and notice a stray sock peeking out from beneath it. It has gathered a happy amount of dust.

I have regained control of the TV remote: no longer do I have to catch snatches of news between cricket test matches and rowdy music from pop bands with unpronounceable names. But dour monotones issuing forth from BBC World don’t make me want to dance, not like Mika does, until Amelia begs me to stop: ”Maaaaaarm, you’re so embarrassing!”.

The scatter cushions on the sofa are no longer scattered because a teen lies sprawled in their place. Instead they’re sitting up stiffly. All plumped and pompous.

Hat says, ”school’s OK Mum but I prefer the holidays”.

I know what she means.

Why don’t you play in your brother and sisters’ rooms I ask. She looks a little doubtful, their territory, clearly marked (doors plastered with Keep Out signs and lewd skull and crossbones) is usually out of bounds. Go on, I urge.

She does. Ben’s bedroom floor is now a deathtrap of Lego shrapnel and the miniature residents of her doll’s house for whom she is building a hotel, she says.

Perhaps she and I can escape there one weekend?

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4 Responses to “Empty Nest”

  1. Rob Says:

    Glad to hear you are back safe and sound after gruelling trip to drop off kids at school. Sure it’s not too long now till the summer hols and you have all your avid readers to keep you afloat till then.

  2. When Mommy Life Gets Too Hectic « Option Adoption Says:

    […] you lose your cool, or when getting up just one more time in the night will make to crack, think on THIS. It is very touching and incredibly well written, even if the topic is […]

  3. Roberta Says:

    Both of my boys moved out of the house with in 3 months of each other. I was overwhelmed with the sense of loss.

    Then I got a dog.

    (What was I thinking??)

    Anyway, they call often and visit once a week…so it’s not so bad.

  4. Panda Bear Says:

    Roberta,
    How did you deal with your sense of loss?

    I always thought to myself that I would never suffer from the empty nest syndrome. I thought what parent in their right mind gets depressed b/c their kids grow up and finally move out.

    I have taught my 3 children to be very strong, independent, self-motivated, educated, career-minded, open-minded individuals. So what was there to worry about?????

    Boy was I slapped in to reality, I too am about to lose my last child to the world of college and the world in general.

    I am suffering from mommy-itist, I must feel needed.

    losing her cubs
    Panda Bear

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