I felt bad. Trouble was I should’ve felt much worse. Which was why I felt bad. Everyone told me I was going to find the last of my duckling’s leaving home hard. And I mean, it was a bit. I’m not a monster, I shed tears. But mostly, I was just thrilled. Which is bad.
Friends messaged, worried I might be sat, silently sobbing over odd socks, or sitting in a bedroom, holding a discarded pillow, wistfully reminiscing.
‘’Hang on in there’’, they said.
‘‘Don’t cry alone.’’
‘‘You’re poor empty nest! How will you cope?’’
Well, it turns out I can cope just fine.
It’s not that I don’t love my kids. Or that being a mum’s not the best thing I’ve ever done but, by the time the last one of six tottered off I’d been parenting for nearly thirty years. I’d never been a grown-up without kids.
I was ready for an empty house and cereal boxes that actually contained cereal. There was no wailing about empty wombs or spare bedrooms. Now my home was finally child-free I was ready to throw up the barricades, demanding ID on the door, declaring if you’re under 25 you’re not coming in.
‘‘You’ve done so well to get where you are considering where you’ve come from,’’ said the 6th form tutor to my head-girl daughter. Her haul of A*’s, not enough, in his eyes to wash off that council-estate taint. This kind of thing still runs deep in rural Mid-Wales.
Same thing when boy number two was Head-boy.
Leaving school at 16, in the 80s I was told ‘people like me’ worked in the C0-OP until they had a baby. Seems not much changes.
Telling my kids not if but when you go to university, was a hard sell when all they could see was the endless student debt, each working fast-food through 6th form just to pay their way to get there. Now my kids all have degrees, post-Graduate diploma’s, one’s a Paramedic, one even wants to be a writer. All out in the world busy being fabulous.
But this isn’t about them, it’s about me. For the first time in my adult life, I can do just what I want, which isn’t very big or even very wild.
I read, I write. I walk the dog. All that space spent raising a family can now be spent raising me.
Ok, I may have expressed my joy a little too freely. Day Two at university, the daughter texted.
The photos of me running through the house shouting FREEDOM! with blue face paint and a kilt might have been too much.
But seriously, from the moment your child is born, being a parent means becoming a B-list player in someone else’s movie. Your life revolves around the star, you’re not even in the bloody entourage.
Well, now it’s my time to branch out. Start my own spin-off, have a mini-series. Sod it, go full box office. Become my own star.