When Children Want to Fly the Nest

When your children want to fly the nest [One Mother’s Reflection]

Crying Flamingo : One Parents Experience of the possibility of Empty Nest Syndrome

There we are, all five of us, sitting around the dining room table, on a sunny Friday night in May. It’s been so warm, we’ve cooked and shared a delicious family barbeque. I’ve even treated myself to a glass of vino or two. Life is good.

And then number 1 son, 15 years old,  drops the bombshell.

“Dad’s sent me details of an excellent college in north London. I’ve decided I’m going to do my A-levels in London and live with Dad. Plus I get my own room and means I can get away from Jake.” (Son number 2, 13 years old.)

Uh?? Stunned silence.

Then immense irritation at the ex-husband for sending college details to number 1 son without even mentioning it to me.

Biting My Tongue

I hope that I showed maturity and reason in front of Zac. What I really wanted to do was Eff and Jeff at the ex-husband who has been trying to persuade number 1 son to live with him in London for some time now.

Deep down I’ve known this day would come. Zac is 15 now but let’s face it, when he is 16, he could, in theory, join the army.

He craves independence. His own space. He is in utter despair at sharing a room with his little brother.The ex-husband has converted his loft for the number 1 & 2 sons, so they have their own rooms in London. That’s a big deal to a teenage boy!

As much as I adore and love Zac, I totally understand his need to move on and experience something new. Let’s face it, I was exactly the same.

(When I was 16 after my parents divorced, I left the small town I was in, to study in Cambridge for my A-levels. It was a fresh start and the best decision I ever made. I loved it and have many happy memories of Long Road Sixth Form College.)

So back to that sunny Friday night…

The selfish thoughts come in. The sentimental feelings.

I have been with this little, to not so little boy for the last 15 years. I have attended all his parents evenings, school plays, his sports days, helped out in his classrooms, driven him to clubs, friends houses, sat up with him at night during bouts of illness. I’ve been his one constant in 15 years during the highs and terrible lows. And there… in a split second, he announces in a breath he wants to live with his Dad.

I get it, I really do. But it hurts like crazy.

Letting Go?

Zac is the funniest, most joyous soul. He’s not like other kids his age. He is wise beyond his years and so creative. I’m incredibly proud of him and I just don’t want to let him go. Let alone, be under the care and influence of somebody else. Even though it is his Dad. Zac is my baby. My boy. My beautiful son.

But I have to accept this I suppose. Or do I? His college options in Brighton are fantastic. There really is no comparison between the London and Brighton colleges he has chosen. He is very lucky that he is intelligent and applied enough, that he stands the chance of getting into either one of his college choices.

So back to that Friday night again…

Zac is a very sensitive soul and he immediately recognised my attempts to hide my upset and irritation at his father.

We sensibly sat and looked at both college websites, going through the pros and cons of each. He quietly and subtly concluded:

“they both look good Mum. I’ll make a decision after I’ve been the open evenings, in November.”

Thus silencing his Mum for a while!

Zac wants to make me AND his Dad happy. I know that. And at the end of the day, of course, I want Zac to be happy. I want to do what’s best for him and support him on his journey. I only want the best for my children.

Feeling Sentimental

I am coming around to the idea of Zac living with his Dad. I understand that Zac wants his independence. A new adventure. Life in London is very seductive to a teenage boy, and in fact, in some ways, I think it will be good for him.

But I can still feel his soft breath on my skin, as I held him tightly as a baby, moments after he was born. I remember his first wobbly steps, followed by him falling over into picnic basket on his 1st birthday! Watching him proudly in his school plays. Or giving him reassuring hugs as he struggled in his first terms at high school.Or how, at only 2 years old, he would put a blanket over my knees and let me rest after an exhausting night with his baby brother.

Now Zac, at 15, picks me up like I’m a feather. His deep voice I don’t even recognise at times. He is becoming a man. A wonderful, wise, talented man. If he decides to go, I will miss him, like…..well I just don’t have the words to explain how I will feel.

He is my baby but he wants to, spread his wings. Who am I stop him?

Flamingo Illustration for Blog Post: When Children Want to Fly the Nest

Reaching a Conclusion

He is in the lucky and not so lucky position of having parents who live in two very different, but fantastic cities, giving him a choice that many other children don’t have. And what a choice!

I’ll be waiting, on the sidelines, ready to give him a hug and encourage him on his way, as and when he decides to fly my protective nest.

If you have experience of children leaving your nest or are in a similar situation, as a divorced parent, I would love to hear your story.

And Finally…

Other reflective posts you might enjoy:

The Power of Play

On Turning 40 & My Black Dog

Wearing Too Many Hats?

Have an inspired day

Georgie x


Comments 5

  1. I so resonate with this story and all the conflicting emotions. My three (twin boys who are 18 and a daughter who is 17) have, seemingly, all grown up and are looking to leave the nest in what feels like one huge exodus! My ex-husband is encouraging (and paying) for them to attend university in a different town from where we live and whilst I totally get the attteaction (I would have loved it too) the selfish part of me is yelling ‘noooo’! I think back to those days myself and realize how much of a backdrop my parents took in my life when I was that age – and then remember how much they came back into focus once that phase was over. I’ll be holding onto that thought and reading your blog in the meantime

  2. Gosh Georgie your post made me want to cry! My son is off to uni in September and I don’t think I realised until I read your beautiful blog how emotional I actually am about it. Thank you.

  3. Oh you have me in floods of tears this morning in empathy and yet my children are only 9 and 10. I think it is especially hard for mothers when our children leave, but it’s an inevitable fate. Big hugs; sounds like you handled it really well.

  4. Georgie
    My heart is aching, such pain! I’m divorced too, six years ago and the sacrifices both practical and emotional I have had to make have been enourmous, life changing and exhausting to make it work (my daughter lives with him and his partner 2-3 nights a week.). I never got used to being apart every week like this, and nor did she until literally this year. Plus me having to ‘let go’ – her having the influence of a ‘third’ parent very soon after we split up. But it was nevertheless the best solution for her. Now she’s older (off to secondary school in September!) it’s a bit easier.
    I love reading your open posts, I find it difficult to be honest about how hard it has been. Your story is heart wrenching though I hope that once you have grieved perhaps a new and even better type of relationship may develop with your lovely son. Xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *