The Empty Nest – a Mother’s Hidden Grief
I began writing this story some five years ago when I was 49 years old. At the time I was working in a nine-to-five job for a small book distribution company. Now I work in a nine-to-five job in an administrative role for a lighting manufacturer. I was born and raised in Australia, and I am respectably average in most ways—height, looks, disposition, income, taste in furnishings, personal achievements and emotional baggage. I am an “everywoman”, if one exists. Or rather, an “everymother”, for what really defines me and obsesses me is the story I have to tell about my children.
When I started writing, I was facing the daunting prospect of turning 50 and the more upsetting event of both my daughters leaving home. With these two facts looming before me, I discovered within me a voice that was clamoring to be heard. Would I be like the mother in the movies with a drawstring apron, waving to my children at the picket fence with tears rolling down my cheeks? What happens to that mother? The movie never tells you because the story follows the children—their adventures, their romances, their heartaches—and only once in while do they come back to visit mum. She reminds them to eat their veggies and then the children are gone again. In the final shot she peers through the curtained window, a grey shape behind glass. The curtain shuts. End of mother.
What happens to her, I wanted to know. I needed to know. I am that mother.
This is a story of an ordinary Australian mum who is coming to terms with the fact that her life is changing forever. The characters that I share my feelings about are real people and each of them plays a very important role in my life; as a woman, a partner, a mother and a friend. This is my voyage, that which has emerged from my very heart and soul, beginning many years ago when I first became a mother to the time when my children decided to leave home—or as some people call it, ‘abandon the nest’.