Monday, 16 July 2012

Things I am not very good at: Coping with the empty nest

I wrote this around the time my two children left home while we were living in Tanzania.  I may have ever so slightly plagarised the style from the Diary of Bridget Jones, which I was reading at the time. Though I was feeling so low, it could also been plagarised from the Diary of Anne Frank. Like most of my blogs, it serves no real purpose whatsoever, and I should warn you it is just slightly sixual (said with kiwi accent) in nature so not suitable for children under 30.

Diary of a Distraught Mother
Saturday May 06
Number of times have told only daughter how proud I am she has won scholarship: (3,426). Number of times husband has told friends and family how happy he is we don’t have to pay for her university fees: (5,000,000). Number of times have admitted to self will miss only daughter: (too many to count).
Am pleased and proud of only daughter. Has won wonderful scholarship to university in Canada. Everyone I meet is congratulating me.
“Yes, she has done so well." I say, smiling humbly. "Where did she get it from? Oh ha ha, well I don’t know really…ha ha!” 
She is happy, her father is happy, and I am happy…sort of. Remember when she was small (and incredibly cute and loving little girl who never wanted to leave her mother). Now she is 18, (when did that happen? Who is that young woman?) Come to think of it, who is that old woman looking out of the mirror in morning, but will not dwell on that right now. Anyway, she is enrolled and air ticket purchased. Nothing to be done but smile.

Saturday May 13
Number of times have thought about only son going to boarding school: (3,426). Number of times have decided is very bad idea: (3,425). Number of times has crossed mind that maybe am only thinking of self: (1).
All husband’s fault for putting silly idea in only son’s head. Husband thinks he should go home to New Zealand to finish high school, because husband is male and completely lacking in feelings and emotion. Am not looking at big picture, he says. Do not believe in boarding schools.  Only for British people or missionaries in remote nether regions. However, in manner of Mother Theresa, think maybe should not think of self but what is best for only son. He is missing out on opportunity to play for All Black rugby team. He can stay with husband’s brother over weekends so good for him, but now worried he will like sister in law better than me. Wish I didn’t feel so totally bereft at thought of losing both children at the same time. Told husband we should hurry up and have a third child but he says it is too late now. What will do with self? Maybe should have an affair since it was husband’s terrible idea that started entire catastrophe in first place!

Friday August 05
Number of times looked into children’s empty bedrooms and had emotional breakdown: (2,600). Number of times promised self would not look into children’s empty bedrooms in order to avoid emotional breakdown: (2,600). Number of complete strangers have bailed up in supermarket and on street to tell about children leaving home: (352). Number of strangers who run when they see me coming: (460), word has spread!
What was I thinking??? How did I let this happen? Must have been mad or in some sort of pre-menopausal state and did not understand implications! Am not coping at all.  Horrible empty bedrooms. Nasty quiet house. Where is loud music, shouting, banging and crashing, that used to drive me crazy?  Where is smell of stinky sox and sulky faces. Have forgotten all their annoying habits and they have taken on manner of perfect angels in mind.  Husband being lovely and supportive in manner of perfect husband, but am very sad all the same. Wish he wasn’t being so nice; affair does not seem such good option. Maybe should take up new career. I know, will write manual on how to survive once children have left home. Only slight problem, have no idea what to put in it.  Am not sure I am surviving.

Friday November 2nd
Number of times had sex in other rooms now children not around: tried a few (though kitchen bench/counter cold and hard and not as much fun as it looks on television). Number of extra trips and money we have handy because not handing it out all the time for teenage demands: quite a lot. Number of times not bothered to cook a meal as only two of us: hundreds.
Have realized the silver lining to cloud of empty nest. Sex life has improved thanks to having no children to interrupt at completely wrong time! Cooking easier, especially when only daughter usually turned up nose and only son complained that there was never enough food in house. Now half the time seems not worth bothering with as just husband to worry about. Of course husband not always that happy about lack of food situation. Maybe he will have affair with good cook?  Have managed to get through with help of husband, friends and higher power, (Oprah and Dr Phil) and even higher (God). Fewer episodes of crying and kicking and screaming and accosting complete strangers in supermarkets. Still hate driving by school and seeing happy kids with happy parents collecting them. Think they should move school so I don’t have to pass it every day. Will call special school meeting to suggest plan.
Both doing well and not missing mother, which is great I tell people in manner of Gandhi. But deep down really do want them to miss me more in manner of narcissistic psychopath. Daughter enjoying being free from mother. Son says brother in law’s family really nice in manner of Brady Bunch . Sister in law good cook and doesn't argue all the time with husband like I do with his father, he says. Teeth hurt from gritting so hard while pretending to be pleased. Of course do want them to be happy and am doing better…well think I am…not sure actually…oh dear, may need to call husband and suggest we meet in kitchen or go to supermarket to find complete stranger to talk to. 


  1. Mum - as I read this blog I started to have a wee cry because I am sick and want my mother. But then I got to the unmentionable part and well... i am not going to talk to you or dad until I have forgotten what i just read. which may be a long time. MUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! alana

  2. I was hoping you wouldn't read all the way to the end!!

  3. Fay, this was SO good! I loved Briget Jones - read both books (1st one several times)! You are an excellent writer and you are brave! I wish I could publish this for everyone to read! So so so so so so good!

    1. Thanks so much Annelize! I am not sure I deserve such high praise but I will take it!