By JOHANNA CASTRO
Go on holiday without having to please everyone, sleep in late, chuck out all the iron-on name tags, never pack a lunch ever again, find time to spend in the garden, indulge in some exotic Thai cooking (with extra chillis of course) and concentrate on writing.
These were just some of the things that I had planned when my second ‘baby’ flew the nest and went off to university.
But the very moment I was left on my own, I cried. It felt as if I was looking into a big black hole where nothing had any real form or excitement, and certainly there were no feel-good Mummy factors.
In short, the overall anticipation I had was of walking through my day to day routine feeling as if I was minus a limb.
Murphy’s law of parenting states that just as our kids become decent, interesting, thoughtful human beings, then the time comes for them to fly from the nest. We look back on the endless cycles of nappies, tears, tantrums, sleepless nights, school runs, mealtimes and homework and wonder where it all went, and personally I wonder if I was paying enough attention, because the years fled by so fast.
And as much as I loved my brood with a passion I sometimes feel a small guilty twinge because if I’m honest a small part of me was always planning little escapes from my maternal duties, if only for a few minutes.
Then the day came when my babiest baby set off for university, and the house was empty except for me and He Himself and I felt completely at a loss, wandering around the house looking for reminders of her, and pulling the discarded clothes hanging in her cupboard close to my nose just to remember her sweet smell.
Did I ever look searchingly down the telescope and envisage this day would come? Was there ever a game plan at the ready for D-Day, the big black day of looming Departure? Did I relish the thought of more time to myself, or perhaps a new job?
Not in the least. I hardly saw it coming until the final year of her being at home, when suddenly I realized that there would be no more: “This time next year we’ll get school books organised earlier,” Suddenly there was a big empty void where my maternal organising and planning duties once resided.
Gazing into the void translated into a veritable virus of Wanting To Be Helpful. After all my subconscious reasoned, if I held the helpful card and proved that I was always needed then surely she wouldn’t go?
Questions which would previously have fitted into the Do not Spoil The Child section of parenting suddenly gushed forth from my lips and I became über helpful.