I’m 33 years old and my life, as I know it, is about to be turned upside down.
Ok, that’s probably a little dramatic, but things are about to change, and I don’t like it. Not one little bit. But I have to deal with it. It’s time for me to grow up…
My retired parents are leaving the nest. They are moving away. Three hours away. As a mother of two young children, how will I possibly deal with this? At the moment, I don’t have a clue.
How did I react when they told me they had put in an offer for a house in the country, three hours away? Well, I did what any mature 33-year-old mother of two would do… I carried on like a child. I cried, I sobbed, I was a blubbering mess.
“What do you mean you want to move three hours away?? Three f***ing hours away? Away from my children, your grandchildren? Away from your lifelong friends? Away from me??”
“Mum! Your heart attack last year! Is this what’s made you want to slow down and search for a life outside the burbs? Why? So, you’ve found your dream house, it’s on acreage, with a view, it’s what you’ve always wanted? Since when?! You want to start a hobby farm?! A hobby farm?! With cows and chickens? Mum! You don’t even like animals! And so what if it’s a beautiful house?! No ones going to see it because no one is going to drive three hours to visit you!”
Yep…admittedly, I overreacted. I played the guilt card. I made them feel bad, I had a full blown adult tantrum. But to my defence, at that moment, I felt as if my whole world had came crumbling down. I felt as if I was being abandoned, for the first time in my entire life.
When I’ve told people about my parents moving and about how I reacted they have insinuated that I ultimately need to get over it and be happy for them. Of course that’s true, I get it, but I feel the need to explain why I reacted the way I did. Why whenever I think about them leaving I feel like my heart has been broken into a million pieces. So here I go…
I am the eldest child of three, one whom has grown up with busy, hardworking, but loving parents who guided me through my childhood the best they could; attending every basketball grand final, every swimming carnival, every athletics meet and every school concert.
Mum cooked wholesome meals six nights a week, they bought me a dog, my first four-pack of lemon stollies (yes, they were awesome btw), and they scolded me when I gave attitude, and told me when they were proud or disappointed with my behaviour, all to make sure I was on my way to becoming the best person I could be. Mum lent an ear when I experienced my first “tongue kiss” and dad gave me treasured advice when it came to my career.
We grew up with our cousins, with our grandparents and made many amazing family memories together.
Financially, over the years, my parents struggled a bit with money, as many do, but they stuck together despite the hardships and they made damn sure that my brother, my sister and I, had each other’s back. They made sure we were always together and no matter what we had going on in our lives, we came back to each other.
They were, and are, good parents, whom my husband and I consider to be our friends. Probably our best friends, who we need, rely on and value our time with, more than anyone.
My husband and I hang out with them regularly. We choose to catch up with them on a Saturday night, down a few scotches, chat, laugh, whatever, and they are invited to the same functions and parties as we are. As we have grown up they have become our buddies instead of just being our parents.
But since we’ve had kids, it’s much more than that. We rely on them. We need them. They are the only people in the world that I can leave my kids with, or ask to do a school drop off, or call for an emergency vomit pick up from day care, or take my toddler off me for an hour on a day she’s being a shit head and I need to do the groceries, and not feel guilty about it.
We use them because they are close to us, they live near us, we trust them, they love our kids and it’s convenient. They are retired and they are our children’s grandparents, whom they love to spend time with.
I love getting a knock on the door to discover it’s my dad whose popped in to borrow something from hubby’s shed, or mum whose been to Aldi and bought something for the girls. I love that I can pop in to their house for a cuppa on my way home from work or for dinner when it’s one of our birthdays. All of these things are because they live so close to us.
And now they are moving away…
Selfishly, ignorantly, I thought my huge hissy fit and the tears (which I honestly couldn’t help come streaming out) would make a difference to their decision. I thought it would stop them making – as I said during my tantrum – “the biggest mistake of their lives”. But it didn’t. They are going because they are pursuing their dreams. They are finally going to start their lives together, worrying only about themselves for the first time in probably their entire 35 years of marriage. They are leaving the nest and starting a new chapter on their own. And, of course, I know deep down, they damn-well deserve it.
So, while I am crying as I write this (I have no idea where I get this over-dramatic side to my personality from…MUM!) it’s time for me shut up, be happy for them and let them fly away and live their lives. Milk their cows, feed their chickens, mow their lawns on their ride on mower and escape their busy, crazy, hustle and bustle life on the Mornington Peninsula. A place where I truly believe they will one day return to, back again to be cared for by their offspring when they are too old to look after themselves and their hobby farm, but until they do, I have begrudgingly made the decision to make the most of their next chapter, with them.
I promise to hide my tears while I help them pack their things into boxes. I promise to try and enjoy the three hour drive (with two children who get car sick and hate travelling) while we go and see their new place for the first time and I promise I won’t call them to tell them when I am having a horrible “mummy day” and that I desperately need my mum to relieve me of my own mum duties.
I will instead be an adult, a grown up and I will be happy for them. After all, they are alive, they are healthy and they are only three hours away…
Oh, did I mention they’ve promised to look after the kids for us every school holidays! Maybe this move to the country isn’t so bad after all…