My 16 year old son has been home for 2 weeks for his Easter Holidays. You can read here about whether he is at home or on holiday here.
After 22 years of being a mum, it all stopped. I'm still a mum but I parent from several thousand miles away now, slightly closer to the UK after relocating from South Africa to Dubai in December 2014, but nevertheless, it's still a 7 hour flight plus car/train journey away. It's expensive to call the kids mobiles, they don't always have access to wifi so 3 G costs them too much to Skype, there are letters and cards to be sent, but they don't always remember to collect them and they rarely write back. But that doesn't matter, I'm the adult, even though 4 of them are over 20 and the youngest almost 16 is in boarding school and I've handed over day to day parenting to his team, who, in my opinion are doing a damn better job than I could've hoped for or probably done.
I miss my kids, I miss the house being full, I even miss the rows as it gave me a purpose to get through each day, school runs, uniforms, after school activities, dinner to cook, arguments and fights to resolve.
But I'm done with Empty Nest Syndrome I'm reminded only of my freedom from parenthood when one of the kids come to visit and suddenly the fridge, the fuel tank and my purse are emptied.
The biggest thing that helped me change from being a full time parent to it just being me and the cat and the dog all day was relocating. It was tough when we moved to South Africa and although the problems with HR and immigration were stressful in Dubai, this time I wasn't dealing with finding schools, settling children (although the dog and cat were a challenge) also I was able to go out on my own from day one, the streets are safe and the public transport is cheap and runs perfectly.
We created our first child free home so there are no empty rooms to mourn over. Our kids are now visitors here, they've never lived here, therefore from my perspective life on a daily basis without them is very different from when I found odd socks after they left and their rooms were in danger of becoming shrines as I cleaned and tided them within an inch of my life as a way of distracting myself from having nothing to do once they left home.
However this has caused a different problem and that's making sure that when the teenager comes 'home' he feels at home and not like a visitor, so far I think the balance is right, I just have to remember I didn't entertain him 24 hours a day when he lived at home so I must remember to give him space now and not try to spend every minute with him or he'll not want to come back.
I still haven't found my thing yet, my thing to do now the kids have left home, has relocating complicated things? Has being an expat changed my life forever? Will I ever pick my career up? Do I want to pick up my career again? I don't think I'll be volunteering here, although the autistic school appears to be drawing itself towards me.
So far, Life without kids has been just as unpredictable as life with them, I still need to be at home for visitors, be they young, old, family or friends. I have some amazing travel coming up over the rest of this year. 2 trips to the UK, 1 to South Africa and 1 to Canada. I've joined in with photography projects on social media, take part in 5 weekly links which seem to be keeping me busy. I've been sewing, exploring, shopping, having coffee and things are rather fun right now, so instead of thinking too much about what I'm going to do, I'm just going to carry on doing what I'm doing. I'm sure things will change soon enough anyway. Who knows? Grandkids, a job offer, another relocation?