Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Half an empty nest by Kate Hardy

The middle of August saw a key date for us: A level results day, which would tell us whether our eldest was off to university or not.

I’m thrilled to say Chris got his place at Nottingham Trent University for a four-year Masters degree in chemistry.

But that means that at the end of September, he left home. And that in turn means we only have one teen left: and it’s quite odd to get used to the household being smaller.

I wasn’t sure that I was going to cope too well, so I planned a bucket list thing for the day before we dropped him off (going to see David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall – and it was worth waiting 35 years to see him because it was the best concert of my entire life and I loved every second). And I also planned extreme deadline pileup so I’d be too busy to think.

2016 sept gilmour.jpg


Then it was drop-off day. We followed a bunch of lovely students who were there to held the newbies, through the new block.


2016 nottm sept 2.JPG

We got to his flat.

2016 sept nottm 1.JPG

We did a quick supermarket run while he was unpacking, then said goodbye so he could settle in.

2016 sept chris.JPG

Though I was good. I didn’t embarrass him by crying when we left. (I might admit to crying all the way home, but I was wearing sunglasses and I can cry very quietly.)

And then all the Mum-worries popped into my head. Would he get on with his flatmates? Would he eat properly? (Thankfully he’s self-catering so he won’t have to contend with what we referred to in halls in my first year as ‘badger pie’ – a green pastry casing containing lumpy mashed potato and corned beef, and it tasted worse than it sounds.) Would he get homesick? What if he didn’t get on with his tutor or his tutor group? What if he didn’t settle in and really hated it? What if he was so busy that he forgot to stay in touch (I remember the lads in my own student days being rubbish at keeping in touch at home) and I just worried and worried and worried about him?

But I’m thankful to report that he has been BRILLIANT about texting us, and calling home a couple of times a week. His flat is really nice (better than in my day, which is what I wanted – we saw some truly awful places elsewhere!), he’s getting on well with his flatmates, he’s cooking proper food (and I get the odd text asking me about oven temperature and timings), and he likes his tutor and tutorial group.

Today is his first day ‘proper’, and he has a fairly hefty workload (about five times as many contact hours as I did, what with labs and group work as well as tutorials and lectures – my English degree meant a lot of self-study). But I’m so glad that he seems to have settled in.

I’m gradually getting used to prepping the right amount of vegetables for dinner (for three instead of four). And because he calls/texts us, we don’t miss him as badly as we thought we would (it feels as if he’s still around). The one who really misses him, though, is the dog; Byron’s quite deaf now, so he can’t pick up Chris’s voice on speakerphone. Last night, at dinner, he sat and looked mournfully at Chris’s empty chair, and you could just see ‘where has my boy gone?’ in his little doggy expression. But I think there will be a joyful reunion in December.

For those of you in the same position – what did you miss most about yours while they were away? How did you cope with the changes in your house?


8 thoughts on “Half an empty nest by Kate Hardy”

  1. I know these are exciting times for you and your family. I remember the first time I left a child at school and it was emotional but I soon got over it because it is what we dreamed of for him. I wouldn’t have held him back for the world. After I got that in my mind I decided that it was time for me. I started doing things I hadn’t had time for–like writing. I went out and started do something I enjoyed that wasn’t focused around my family. I found me again.

  2. My oldest son lived at home his first year of college, and moved in to an apartment near his work (and his school’s west campus) the next summer. By that point he was pretty much in and out of the house, so I was used to not seeing him around a lot…..as I worked nights and slept days. My 2 years younger son was home during that time, and my mom lived with us so there was an adult presence while I was at work. The younger son

    1. Both my sons graduated high school with almost a year’s worth of college credits,and scholarships, but my younger son decided to take online classes and work full time, he finally left the nest when he was 23. They both were good about calling/texting, and it was pre-facebook days! of course they were only 15 minutes away, so I could easily visit (more like they visited to do laundry or raid the pantry)
      My college experience was different…3 hours away by bus, I lived in a dorm room the first semester, then an on campus college apartment with my 2 closest friends. It was a Catholic Women’s college..the only guys were semenarians…9 out of the original 12 dropped out of seminary before we graduated…they girls fighting for them was something else (not many available guys in the north woods of Wisconsin) I had a boyfriend at home, so I wasn’t in the fray, but everyone got involved in the drama!

  3. Hi Kate

    I have only had one of my four kids go to Uni and she stayed at home and travelled to her lectures etc by train although we are empty nesters as far as our kids go now 3 are married and the last lives with a friend and it did take a bit of getting used to but it didn’t last ling I have 2 grandkids that I have the care of and one of my sisters lives with us so the house is back to nearly normal 🙂

    Your son will have many good times and memories to store on his journey and I am so happy that the contact is keeping up

    Have Fun

  4. Kate, I am so thrilled for Chris! I am now in the fourth year of a son at uni and a bit of a veteran 😉 My top tip is Facetime…we do that once a week and have a good old 30 minute chat and catchup at some point over the weekend. It took 3 years before I thought, “he’s all grown up now”… he’d learned to cook, wash his clothes, navigate around Hobart,had a great group of friends and dealt with grown up stuff like dealing with bureaucracy. Oh and he’d passed his degree and got into medicine, which was the aim. So it gets easier saying goodbye after each holiday and I think the Facetime helps as I ‘see’ him each week.

  5. Firstly hugs from me, Kate because although its exciting and all the things you wanted for Chris, it’s still a “big deal” for Mums 🙂
    I had 2 years with 1 child, then the following year both at home and this year both of them gone. I think the one child at home was weirder because it was the first time in eighteen years we only had one child at home.
    Do I miss them? Yes. But we talk and text and they come home often. Even my daughter who lives a 10 hour drive away now, has been home 4 times this year!
    And it does help to know this is what they’re supposed to do and they’ll be more rounded people because of it. They’re starting their lives and I’m happy and excited for them.
    I can tell you what I don’t miss – the drag on our internet speed with 2 teenagers constantly on the net 🙂

  6. Aww, Kate, it’s a wonderful time and a hard time, isn’t it? It’s a while ago now but missed everything from clothes on the floor to laughs over dinner when our daughter left home. But now, years on, we visit her home and family so often it’s just amazing.

  7. I feel your pain, Kate. I’m 6 months into an empty nest and still trying to get used to cooking for 2!!
    We had a year of being 3 and that was really lovely. We got to know our son a lot better as he was our only focus at the dinner table (poor kid!), but it does mean I miss him so much this year.
    You did the right thing by planning to fill your days. We did the same and it was the best idea. Now we’re planning holidays and trips away, just the two of us, and that’s a lovely new stage in our lives…we have fun and the kids get to do their thing too.

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