The Nesting Instinct

I will admit it the nesting instinct has hit hard around here.

NO I’m not pregnant. Those days are well behind me now and the only patter of little tiny feet that I want to hear anytime soon is the dogs or one day (maybe/hopefully/fingers crossed) grandchildren.

You know how you coast along thinking life is pretty much as it should be then life throws you a curve ball? . It suddenly dawned on me that Elise officially finishes school in just a few weeks – October 27 in fact…..and I don’t mind admitting to it freaking me out.  Why this fact had passed me by I don’t know she reminds me of it daily and it is written in my diary but I seem to have been able to ignore the fact that my girl will very shortly (once her final exams are over) will be finished with the first part of her education and that in the eyes of the world – and hers – she will be an adult and able to make adult decisions all by her very self.  Ok so Elise is 18 already and considered an adult – but in this household Ashley and I ignore that fact while the kids are still at school…..it’s one of the priviledges of being parents that we cling to.

This change in educational status also means that Elise will be heading off to uni next year to study primary teaching for four years.  Which as you can imagine has lead to all sorts of discussions on where she will stay and will she just stay in Bendigo for the University year or for the full four years it will take to get her degree.   This has been the biggest shock of all – the fact that my girl wants to leave home and to live away from home – a whole two hours away – all on her own and make her own decisions and fend for herself and that she wants to stay in Bendigo for four calendar years not just the uni terms!!!!

I know that Ashley and I have continually taught and shown by example our children how to be independent, socially upstanding young people who are considerate of others and careful with their money…..but somehow it suddenly feels that we may not have covered everything that our kids – and by that , in this instance, I mean Elise – will need to know in order to survive in the big wide world.  I know she will make mistakes and there will be times when there will be a frantic phone call home to say she needs some money, or food, or both and part of that is the growing up process. And I know that hundreds, thousands, millions of other parents have gone through what I am facing but why do I feel like I’m all on my own and terrified?  If Ashley is worried he won’t admit it and I honestly don’t think he is worried.

Face washers - crochet edgings

It’s not so much the idea of her being at university that worries me. I have no doubt she has the work ethic and the drive and desire to do well at her studies.  Teaching has been a dream and passion of hers for so many years that I can’t see her not loving it and doing well.  It’s the idea that she will be living in Bendigo on her own.  Part of the accommodation discussions have been whether she will stay on campus for twelve months or live in a flat of her own. While Ashley would like to see her on campus, Elise has decided (and I knew she would – call it knowing my girl all too well) that she would rather have a flat or unit of her own somewhere in town where she has her own space and the quiet she needs to study when she has to.  Of course that means that Ashley and I will be paying out a considerable amount of money over the next four years in rent and that doesn’t worry us. Elise will get what work she can and pay her own way as much as she can and certainly we don’t mind making that financial sacrifice.

I know Elise  will make friends.  When we visited La Trobe Uni on their open day we did go to a talk on the course Elise wants to study.  There the chief lecturer said that they have (for the past couple of years and are going to continue to do so) put the new first year students in “pods” of around 25 students and that pod does all their classes and study sessions together for the first six months.  It has meant that students settle into uni life much easier and get to know a smaller group of people really well before they launch out into the wider university community.  The Uni found that it meant that friendships were faster to form, peer support was more evident and the students didn’t feel so overwhelmed with the massive changes that university life and living away from home presents. I think it’s a brilliant idea and for that matter so did Elise….and I think it eased some of the worry about meeting new people for her.  It eased my worries somewhat as well.

It’s just the living on her own thing that gets to me.  But as there is no way to change her mind – believe me once it’s made up then that’s it – and she assures me she will get a “guard” cat for company….vbg….it looks like I will just have to be a big girl, hide my fears and let my baby fly the nest.  At least Bendigo is only two hours away so if there is an emergency we aren’t far away and I predict quite a bit of travelling back and forth for a while until we call settle into a routine and get used to the idea of being apart.   I can – in moments of clarity – see quite a few advantages of Elise being in Bendigo. We will get a two bedroom flat for her so we can have a bed when we visit and I can see there will be advantages to having somewhere to stay when the wool show in Bendigo is on for example……..I might be able to attend two days instead of the one I currently attend.  Ok so I’m looking at the advantages for me here but it’s a case of have to lest the fears overwhelm me.

My Uni List Book - if I loose it I'm doomed.

So I have been making lists.  Heaven help me if I loose this book.  As we have been thinking of things that Elise needs it is written down in this book and as we buy them/make them/find them at home they are marked off.  So far so good but the lists are growing longer and while Elise is very good at making do there are essentials that she will need right from day one.

I have been crocheting around face washers too. I know a fairly basic idea but this is where the nesting instinct really kicks in. I can’t stand the thought of my girl going down to a boring sterile flat with the absolute essentials that do nothing to make it feel like home. If crocheted face washers in the bathroom and hand made cushions in the lounge give the impression that this is Elise’s home then by golly I’m your girl for making them. Of course I have had to tread lightly and check with Elise before I make anything but so far so good and she has liked what I have done. We had the bargain of the year yesterday picking up two lounge chairs at the op shop for $5 each. They are very sturdy and just need new slip covers made and they will be as good as new.  Best of all they are comfortable and as her father has declined to “gift” her with our lounge suit (cause her mother would love a new one) she is very happy with them.

One of the very essential items that Elise wanted to start her new life was her very own copy of Cookery the Australian Way”.  I have a very old copy that I bought when I finished secondary school – it’s the cookery book that schools use – and it’s awesome and there was no way she was going to be allowed to take it.  So we hunted on ebay and picked up a copy that is in excellent condition. As I said when I handed it to her – “Treat it lovingly and you will still be using it in 50 years time”.  Elise just smiled.  For those that don’t know Cookery the Australian way is a cook book filled with good basic common sense – budgeting, cuts of meat, how to freeze and preserve food and basic, generally easy, nourishing dishes that will keep a uni student from starving or living on baked beans.  It is the one cook book that all three of my kids, and myself for that matter,  reach for when they want to know something about food preparation or a recipe that they know will work – everytime!!!
Cookery the Australian Way

So now I wait and prepare as best I can. Elise still has the VCE exams to get through and results from those don’t come out until December. Then providing she gets the marks she needs first round offers for University come out on January 16 2012. Which seems a long way off but I know it will be here in the blink of an eye.  So I wait and try not to worry and if there is a bit of silence on my blog you will know it’s because it’s all become a bit overwhelming and I have hunkered down and am letting life drift buy.

For those of you who have watched your children fly the nest and attend university or work in other towns – any advice????  I need all the help I can get.

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9 thoughts on “The Nesting Instinct

  1. In the same boat, but its Melbourne and definately residence or sharing a house with other students. We won’t be able to provide much financial support. It really depends which Uni Ayden gets into – Monash it’s living on Res, or RMIT it will be commuting until he finds someone to share with. I’m finding coping with this and Yr 12 very hard and I’ll be pleased when it’s all done, the 18th birthday is done, schoolies week is finished and we know the final mark and the Uni offer is in. It’s fantastic that they have so much to look forward to though!

  2. Thanks for sharing your seperation anxieties for the upcoming departure of your daughter. I know it’s not usually a bloke thing but I’ve been counting down for well over a year the departure of our oldest to Uni next February. I will miss her a lot even though she will only be an hour up the road.

  3. I love the crocheted face washers they are so pretty and how thoughtful and I’m sure they will help Elise feel right at home.

    I wouldn’t stress that much. Elise sounds very capable and independent and I’m sure she will do well on her own. It’s nice that you can afford a two bedroom flat for her. I was going to say the drawback to that, being a first year student, is that living on campus helps the students find friends that they can bond with but since you mentioned the “pods” it won’t be an issue. If she gets a two bedroom and money becomes an issue she can always rent out to a friend but if she needs the quiet to study then living on her own would be worth it. I know what I’d choose. In fact for the amount of times you’ll probably visit it might be cheaper just booking a hotel room rather than paying the extra in rent each month on a two bedroom apartment.

    Don’t be shocked if you find out that she is more independent than you’ve figured on. I hardly heard from my kids at all when they went off to university. Face it they are now in their own little world and you are going to be outside their focus and rightly so. If you’ve trained them up properly then they won’t need you as much and lets face it one of the points of sending them off is to help them merge into being an independent adult capable of looking after themselves.

    Also don’t feel guilty when they are away and you suddenly realize that it’s a little less noisy around the house, less laundry, less dishes, less cooking, less looking after when your baby is sick etc, etc. All of a sudden YOU start to gain independence and freedom because really out of sight out of mind for the most part. Sure you’ll feel lonely for the first bit but it’s amazing how quickly you’ll get over it and you still have two kids to keep you occupied. It’ll be more traumatic for you when the last leaves the nest not the first. However when the last leaves all of a sudden it’s back to you and your honey and a new freedom of what the two of you can do without worrying about the kids so it’s a bit of give and take.

    I think the scary thing for you right now is that you’re being redefined because in your own mind you’ve always been mother, wife and general caretaker and now all of a sudden part of your job description is disappearing. Look at it as an opportunity for personal growth. Face it kids take up time and one less kid is more time on your plate and more opportunity for some “me” time. Now might be a time for some reflection on the direction you want to take for the day when you’re an empty nester.

    Maybe you’ll enjoy the same things you’ve been doing all along only more so but maybe there has been some dream that you’ve put on hold to raise your family and now might be the time to start to put those plans in action.

    Most of all don’t worry things will work out they always seem to and you’ll probably find out that you’ve been stressing too much when there was no need. Hope this helps, each of us is different and you know your child best so maybe the advice I’ve given isn’t helpful but I’m sure everything will be just fine.

  4. Just breathe and continue with the lists!!Amazing how a list helps us feel in control. You know very well how I have struggled with the turning 18 and the finishing of school, I am lucky I still have my oldest at home and am in no hurry to have him leave. Think he is keen to follow the girlfriend to Geelong next year where she is planning to go to Uni. I will be a basket case in 12 months time when my baby is where Elise is now. You know where I am if you need me!

  5. Ive done this twice!
    My two oldest live in bendigo – eldest works there the second goes to uni (so she might get to meet Elise – Sarah is doing photography but her partner Tom is in education)
    Yes it is scary (for you!) I know I really missed Sarah when she went as we are real “friends” but we talk on the phone every day and she loves me to go to bendigo to visit – loves to cook for me etc and when I stay overnight there she tucks me in!
    OH! and she also doesn tmind when I buy her stuff!
    ENjoy the great job you have done with Elise and enjoy the “quality times” you have ahead of you.

  6. Even when they stay at home and go to Uni things change.

    I had to be very conscious not to continue on treating him the same way as I did when he was at school. I’ve stepped back and allowed a lot more freedom for him, while insisting that he do a bit more around here as he’s now an adult.

  7. I am late to the fray but she will be fine, you will cope and life will settle into its new pattern. I say this in the full knowledge that my oldest is not yet 13 and these issues are many years down the track.

    And ‘Cookery The Australian Way’? Love it. I have my copy here in England and my girl used it for some Yr 8 Science homework last week.

  8. Pingback: Milestones « Calidore

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