She’d left home and moved on and I was at home, left to move on with my life. I stood in what had been her room; devoid of her stuff and presence. Memories of her played over and over in my mind: the music, laughter, and tantrums.
‘It’s just a normal part of life,’ I repeated over and over again, as well-meaning people asked me how I was handling my ‘empty nest’. It felt like a bereavement of sorts and in a way it was. With my child-raising years behind me, what was I to become? I didn’t want to be the woman who was defined only by motherhood.
It felt novel and good to go round to her place for coffee: though sometimes I was banned; it was a mess and ‘I would have a fit if I saw it.’
She moved home many times, and geographically got further and further away. When I couldn’t sleep at night, I would mentally calculate how long it would take me to drive to her; if she were to ring and need me… old habits die-hard.
We transformed her vacant bedroom into an office. It was a luxury that my hubby and I had never had before.
Our daughter returned regularly for long weekends and I would cry after we had waved her off on the train for her return journey. At home I would push my face into the pillow where she had slept, just to smell her scent. The mourning-period over, I would snap out it and concentrate on my new responsibility-free life.
Stress-free it wasn’t. It’s much easier to keep an eye on your young child: the adult version is at large in the big-bad-world. You’ve done everything you can to hopefully guide them in the right direction; now it’s their call. They bring you moments of immense pride, and occasions when you question, whether they were actually switched at birth with your true child.
When our daughter wanted to come home, I cried again. Another woman I didn’t know moved in with her ways and expectations. For some reason, she would regularly revert to being a child again and we became the bewildered, disinclined parents: subsisting in a sort of twilight-zone world.
“You’re so anal,” she would shout at me, as I insisted on the dirty pots being washed up last thing at night. “They’ll still be there in the morning.”
“That’s exactly my point. I don’t want to start the day with dirty pots from the day before.”
Reluctantly they would be washed up and slammed on to the drainer. “I prefer them to dry naturally, it’s more hygienic,” she would announce, and flounce off: to occupy our much – loved office.
Our computer became her computer, and the bathroom was forever engaged.
Eventually, to prevent several murders occurring, she moved out again. We got our grown-up daughter back; but thankfully inhabiting her own space: complete with a drainer full of crockery – at one with nature.