Why did no-one tell me? Seriously, why did I not expect this storm before the ... oh, ok, I have the expression backward, you'll understand why as you read on.
Here we are, 18 and a half rather long years later. I recall our very first Christmas, me over the moon with excitement at my then, 8 month old daughter's first Christmas. I worked as many hours as possible in my little temp job to raise the money needed to make the first Christmas memorable. Not thinking of course that I would be the only one to remember, this due to the fact that she was so young! I digress ... the first Christmas was shrieks of excitement, granted they were mine, but this encouraged my little angel girl to shriek accordingly too in years to come.
Roll on through the years and there you'll find, year after year, shrieks of excitement in different settings and with different people. The constant was single mum and daughter together no matter what. Until 2016, the year my angel girl completed high school and became a young woman busting at the seams to enjoy her freedom and right to party. The apple didnt fall far from the tree, except for the fact that I was no longer living in my parents' home at that age, partying hard was not something I needed to explain.
So, Year 2016 brought with it the first year Mum spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning alone - the first one since 1998! Why? My angel girl decided to spend Christmas Eve with a young man she had recently met. How did Mum feel? Pretty hurt, let down and disheartened ... that is until she realised that this in fact was a moment of liberation for her too! No gritting her teeth through the typical teenage behaviour of sulking and snipes because she's doesnt want to be home at that particular time. Rather, Mum enjoyed the quiet time, preparing for Christmas in an atmosphere of peace and calm. Rising at will on Christmas morning to enjoy time in the presence of Father God, singing Merry Christmas to two furbabies who were delighted to see her, and even hear her sing! No debate about who would feed the fur babies. Mum made it to church fully made up and on time ... all alone. How superb it was! Liberating in actual fact!
Now, all we need to find is a way to get through the next few years whilst daughter is a young adult, adulting, still living at home. So far we've managed to establish that we both need to be comfortable with our chosen lifestyles. Mum is happy to stay home and enjoy home based activities, whilst teenager wants to go, go go, out everynight, have friends over when she is not out, stay over at friends when they are not going out or staying with us. It. Just. Never. Stops. The compromise comes about after much debate (granted, very heated), argument, begging sessions etc., etc., that the social activities of the young will be curtailed to three nights a week, this is not unreasonable.
However, the compromise doesn't prevent the testing, sulking and sniping and our home is fast becoming a battle ground at times. This is what I mean by Pre Empty Nest Syndrome. It's easy to imagine being home alone or childless one day in the future as in the fully fledged Empty Nest. The events that led up to that time are testing, they are trying and they have been somewhat unexpected and hence unplanned for. Perhaps this is what we parents need to experience with our offspring to enable us to happily release them into the world as independent and capable young adults.
For now I shall quietly plan my own future, the one in Pre Empty Nest phase and indeed the fully fledged Empty Nest stage!