‘It’s oh so quiet’:Our ’empty nest’ week begins.
Returning to an ’empty nest’.
I returned to an empty house last night. No Mr. T, (he was playing golf). No Beth and Emily. Well, to be honest, it would have completely freaked me out if I’d returned to find Beth and Emily in our house because I’d just completed a five hour round trip to drop them off in Cirencester! Their eagerly anticipated week long Scripture Union Holiday, (Ka’zoo), had finally arrived.
The holiday experiment.
The girls went on a Kazoo holiday for the first time last year. It was a bit of an experiment because Beth is such a ‘home bird’. In the past, she’s struggled when she’s been away from home. The same can’t be said for Emily. She’s had a bag packed for years! I’m not even joking! When she was younger, I’d check on her before we went to bed, only to find she’d packed a little rucksack full of clothes, pyjamas, games and a cuddly toy.
I wasn’t sure what prompted Emily to pack a bag full of her belongings. Had we done something to offend her? Had she found a more suitable family to live with? I began to worry that I’d look in on her one night to find a string of knotted sheets dangling out of the window and a note by her bed saying ‘I can’t take it anymore’!
Despite the bag packing ritual continuing for several months, she was always there in the morning so I finally relaxed. I came to the realisation that she simply liked stuffing her belongings into bags. Mind you, I still had a lingering suspicion the rucksack was there as an option, just in case we all became too much of a burden!
Anyway, I digress. Suffice it to say, Richard and I didn’t feel confident enough to book a cheeky package holiday or mini-break the first time the girls were away, in case it all went pear-shaped and Beth got home sick. We needn’t have worried because they both had an amazing time. They made new friends, learned lots and took part in all kinds of different sports and activities.
In fact, as soon as they got back from their first trip they were desperate to go again this year. This was great news all round. We were delighted they’d enjoyed themselves and we were even more excited about the prospect of booking a few date nights or a longed-for mini-break. This time, we were confident the girls would be happy and having far too much fun to be homesick.
That’s when I realised it’d been a fluke to get them a place on Kazoo last year. I just happened to visit the Scripture Union website on the right day, at the right time. When I asked other parents about the booking process for this year, I was dismayed to learn you needed to be quick and reserve a space the moment bookings opened. By the time the booking date came around I was beginning to suspect I’d have a better chance of getting two tickets to an Adele concert! Plus, the hopes and dreams of my nearest and dearest seemed to rest on my ability to get them a place. Failure was not an option!
Thankfully, despite my reflexes being a little slower these days, I hit the reserve button quickly enough to secure two places and keep my daughters’ dreams alive! They would go to the ball!
And they’re off!
So, yesterday we jumped in the car and headed for Cirencester! The girls’ suitcases were massive. When I looked in the loft for suitcases, we only had the option of tiny cabin-sized bags and bags that were the size of an actual cabin! Emily could have fitted into her case, it was so enormous.
This year, our eldest, Beth, decided she wanted to pack her own bag. I’m not sure what she put in it, (I later regretted not checking), but it weighed a tonne. If Beth’s suitcase was a bag of pick’n’mix, it would have been full of hefty chunks of fudge and toffees, whereas Emily’s would have been full of ‘flumps’. Her suitcase was mostly filled with fluffy sleeping bags, fluffy slippers and fluffy teddy bears.
It was only after we set off on our journey that I had a bit of a wobble about Beth’s packing abilities and began my motherly checks in earnest.
Sun Hat? No.
I didn’t dare ask any more packing-related questions after that, preferring blissful ignorance. However, judging by the weight of Beth’s bag, I can only assume sensible things like sun hats and socks had to make way for a shoe collection worthy of Imelda Marcos and enough makeup to set up her own beauty salon.
Two hours later, we pulled up at the exclusive base for the Kazoo Holiday camp, Rendcomb College. It’s an impressive place, with stunning views across the Gloucestershire countryside. During term-time, the college is home to students whose parents can afford the £10k per term boarding and tuition fees. In our case, staying in the college for a summer camp is the closest our girls will get to attending Rendcomb.
After registration, I helped the girls settle into their accommodation before we said our goodbyes. Despite her excitement, Emily held on to me tightly and gave me a big squeeze. Beth, however, was keen to see all of her friends, so after giving me a brief hug she raced off to find them, yelling over her shoulder that she’d see me next week. STAB. TO. MY. HEART. (Only joking. I know she loves me really).
I returned to my car, which suddenly seemed far too big for me. As I drove away I glanced in the rearview mirror and watched the college recede into the distance. At the same time, my excitement about date nights and mini-breaks seemed to diminish too.
It’s oh so quiet.
On the journey back, I missed hearing Beth sing snippets from Meghan Trainor songs. I missed the two of them giggling over random nonsense or asking me to turn the music up when their favourite song came on. I even missed their ridiculous arguments over trivial things.
It was ‘oh so quiet.’
That’s when I felt that little clench in my chest. A pang. It’s the mother’s equivalent of the amber warning light in a car that tells you something’s not quite right but you can still keep driving for a bit. My amber warning light was telling me something was not quite right. I’d left two pieces of me behind and although it was okay to keep going for a while, it would need fixing soon.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for them. I’m confident they’ll be taken care of and they’ll have a wonderful time. Nevertheless, it’s hard to let them go. I know I’ll spend the rest of the week feeling like something’s missing: like I’ve forgotten something or left something somewhere…Which I have. It’s like that moment when your stomach turns over because you think you’ve lost your car keys. You start checking your pockets frantically, only to remember they’re somewhere safe.
The ’empty nest’.
So I returned to an empty house last night. I paused in the doorway, still expecting the sound of the girls’ laughter and chatter. Instead, there was silence. A strange, unnatural silence. At least until I started to hear Bjork’s quirky little song in my head, taunting me:
It’s oh so quiet.
I felt compelled to go to the girls’ rooms and peer in, just so I could feel connected to them again. Meanwhile, miles away, others were experiencing Beth and Emily’s laughter and chatter for real.
I didn’t go to their rooms. Instead, I took a deep breath and embraced the ache I felt in my heart. I embraced it because it reminded me to be thankful: Richard and I are truly blessed to have such beautiful girls. It also reminded me to be thankful that our ’empty nest’ is only a temporary arrangement.
The amber warning light will disappear next Saturday when Richard drives through the gates of Rendcomb College once more to bring our girls back home to the family nest.
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I dread the day where I don’t have any kids in the house! (Probably why I’m pregnant with my 3rd haha!)
My son went away with school for one night and I couldn’t wait to get him back!
Hope you enjoy your peaceful week! #MarvMondays
Ah, Liane. Glad it’s not just me! I don’t think I’m pining after them enough to get pregnant again, though 😉
Oh this is such a lovely post – what wonderful girls you have and I loved reading about them and how their personalities are different. I know what you mean, me and my other half always feel a bit empty when our stepson is away on a Saturday (when we would usually have him) even though it’s lovely to have a bit of time alone! Hope you have a lovely time with Mr T and I’m sure the girls will have an amazing time away! Xx
Aw, thanks Bridie! It was another one that was supposed to take me an hour to rattle off. Started at 8pm and finished at 2.30am…Ridiculous! It was like Mastermind…’I’ve started so I’ll finish!’!!
It must feel so strange to have a quiet house. I can only imagine. Hope you get to enjoy it and that the girls have a great time! #kcacols
Oh this is lovely! I am sure the girls will have such a fantastic week. I am dreading going back to England without my girls. I know that I will really miss them! Then Youngest starts pre-school in September and I will have a few hours everyday without her – eeeeks! But it’s the next stage. Enjoy your week and your peace and quiet and enjoy the hugs when they come back next weekend 🙂 #marvmondays
Oh, I know you will be more than ready to get some hugs when you get back home from your trip…Not simply because you missed your girls but because it’ll be therapy. I’ll be thinking of you all. Me and Richard have planned some nice things in and I have written little cards to post to the girls today. 🙂
This made my heart melt, you must miss them so much! I bet they are having an absolutely amazing time though. They will be back before you know it, time really does fly!
This is such a beautiful post, I can only imagine how quiet it must feel without them. I hope you get the chance to make the most of the week and it will soon be back to normal in no time 🙂 X #MarvMondays
Thanks for your lovely comment, Lins. We do have some plans to catch up with friends and go out for a meal 🙂
You have such beautiful children. Time will pass quickly and they will be back before you know it, after having lots of fun and adventures. We spend our time yearning for a bit of free time, but once they aren’t with us that feeling described touched on hits us hard! But as you said, we are fortunate to get that feeling that many wish they could have. Wishing you a happy rest of the week and embrace the quiet! #marvmondays
Oh Lex, what a lovely and considered comment. Thanks so much for popping over and visiting my blog today! Such kind words 🙂
I can only imagine what it would feel like to drive out the gates with you two little girls inside ready for their big adventure of the year, but hopefully it’s better for you this year that you know they enjoyed it so much last time! When my son gets old enough I know I’ll pine a bit, can’t even think about moving out for real when he’s a lot older, ekk! #marvmondays
I just want to bottle up their childhood sometimes. They do grow up quickly and I think every stage seems better than the last. I hope you absorb every moment with your little boy!
Aren’t you a wonderful mummy, two very blessed girls.
Good news is if your daughter didn’t pack any knickers – less washing upon her return 🙂
My son is currently going through a clingy phase and it’s thanks to these posts that I’m enjoying it while it lasts. Good job Mum X
Thankfully she did! Phew! Yes, enjoy those cuddles and thanks so much for your kind words!
Oh look at your gorgeous girlies! How bittersweet that you miss them so much but they’re also experiencing some amazing independence at the same time. I’m trying my hardest to enjoy my toddler before he has holidays away. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo
Hi Kaye! Thanks for hosting and for your lovely comments!
Oh, I’m so glad to hear your girls had a wonderful time! They look so happy, and full of personality- I can definitely see why you miss them when they’re away. My son is only 16 months old and I’d be lying to you if I said I don’t already think about the day he’ll move out on his own. Oh, the parent’s worst enemy is time though, so we’ll just enjoy them while they’re still in the nest <3 #KCACOLS
THanks for stopping by, Savannah. They are back home now and completely full of what an amazing time they’ve had. Emily wanted to read this post and was laughing about the bit where she used to pack little bags full of clothes. She didn’t enlighten me very much, though, saying she remembered doing it but didn’t know why…Perhaps she’s just trying to make me feel better 😉
It is really strange when the kids are not home, eerily quiet. But it is also nice for me and hubby to have some much needed alone time x
This feels like such a long way off for me, with Arthur being just 19 months – ive never had a night away from him. I can already feel time moving so fast though and I know it wont be long before im waving him off somewhere. I felt like something was missing before I even fell pregnant so heaven knows what ill be like in the years to come! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
With Piglet only being 5 months old the whole concept of this is totally alien to me! That said, I went to SU camp in my early teens and loved it!!! I was a little apprehensive, I too am a homebird, but I enjoyed every minute. The girls will be having a great time #KCACOLS
Ah, that’s great that you went on one of the SU camps. Our girls are back in the family nest and had an amazing time. They really, really enjoyed themselves and can’t wait to go again next year…The Pressure…To get reservations….
Ahh Jane this is such a lovely post. I’m sure the girls had an absolute blast and made brilliant memories #KCACOLS
Thanks so much, Geraldine. They really did. Emily enjoyed reading the post when she got back, although she couldn’t shed any light on why she was obsessed with packing her bags when she was little!
Oh hhhm for some reason I had a tear in my eye reading this. Maybe because I stared thinking about when my daughter goes away, it’s years to come, but I Know it’ll go so quickly. I’m sure after last year the girls will have a brilliant time, making so many memories. Enjoy the peace and quiet, and having some time to yourself without the parenting. I hope you have some exciting plans. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x
Aw, it’s hard to let them go but our girls did indeed have an amazing time and we had a couple of date nights too! Everyones a winner. So glad they are back now, Claire. Thanks for hosting #Fortheloveofblog
I love that you let your daughter pack her own bag completely by herself – I still check with my husband when we go away somewhere that he’s sorted everything he’ll actually need, haha! Hope they have a fab time and that you can relax and enjoy the quiet a bit! x #KCACOLS
Ha! Yes, I check my hubbies packing too! Its usually his swim trunks or pyjamas he forgets!
Oh wow it sounds like they are going to have an absolute blast though. It’s really tough when you’re so used to doing things for them and then suddenly you have free time! I get it now and mine are too tiny to go far – I imagine I’ll we a wreck when they do! Enjoy your time and I hope they come back full of exciting memories to tell you all about! #KCACOLS
HI Danielle. They did have a blast and it’s lovely to have them back!
I know how it feels to have an “empty nest”, quite uncomfortable for the most part. I’m glad your girls are happy to go off and have fun for a week and they are very lucky to have you. #kcacols
Aw, thanks Shaney. It’s nice to have a noisy house again!