Empty Nesting: When The First Takes Flight

NC left for her trip halfway around the globe at 5.30am this morning. She looked somewhat out of place with her backpack and beanie on. It’s not that our girl’s a princess, but she’s not into roughing it either, like her mother. 

We celebrated her departure last night over much too wine, our favourite Japanese food and an unforgiving bottle of fortified wine that she brought for me ahead of my birthday because she won’t be here to celebrate it in August.

I remembered why I don’t drink unfortified wines at 5.30am this morning.

She won’t be here. The reality of her departure hasn’t really sunk in yet because in many ways we won’t notice that she’s not here, so rarely is she actually here, even when she is in Sydney.

She still lives at home, but NC is focused and has forged her own independent path for some time now. She works hard, our girl. She finished her degree in Advanced Science recently with one final unit to complete in Indonesia en route to Europe. At the same time, she has held down a part time job as the stereotypical, cranky doctor’s receptionist for the past two years, successfully scaring the living daylights out of any poor patient who dares come into the surgery a minute after closing time.

She has balanced her ambition with a mature and enviable relationship with The Astronaut, a match that is based on humor, intellect, a shared appreciation for alcohol and a mutual respect, that deserves to last the course of time in spite of her youth.

Apart from the sticky strands of grated carrot left on the kitchen floor to adhere to my socks each morning, her nightly scavenges for avocados and chocolate and her homemade concoctions of Bircher that remain in the fridge until they walk to the bin themselves, we won’t notice her absence. Because unless you judge someone by the state of their bedroom or their use of hot water, NC is easy to live with; indeed our daughter shines a ray of light into what can sometimes feel like a dark, unsettling void.

I’ll miss her loopiness, inherited from my side I imagine, the most recent example of which was the day before she left when she went to have her eyelashes tinted and came back with extensions. She came home and sobbed for hours afterwards convinced she she looked like a drag queen for the same girl rarely wears make up these days on the grounds of female objectification and unfair sexist expectations.

I’ll miss her daily comments about the state of her hair, the one unruly area of her body that she has never been able to control, the bane in the life of a self-confessed control freak and Virgo who has more important things to think about than hair straighteners and product.

But most of all I’ll miss her strength, that has lifted me up so many times when I should have been supporting her. I’ll miss the girl who we joke is our parent and who used to lay her full body weight on top of me when I was feeling sad because she read in Cosmo that it draws out tension. I’ll miss her honesty (even though sometimes I didn’t want to hear it) and her fairness when it came to her advice about her brother. I’ll miss the times sibling resentment slipped through to remind me of her age and vulnerability and that she is still a young girl with an annoying little brother.

I’ll miss her generosity, both spiritual and philanthropical, and selfishly I’ll miss the one thing that has got me through some of my most trying of this parenting journey, which is being able to look at my daughter and know that we got something right.

#daughter #Family #middleage #Humor #travelling #emptynesting

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