What's new with Janey
07 January 2007

Will I have Empty Nest Syndrome?

My daughter Ashley is nearly 21 years old and still lives at home. She is at university and commutes regularly and hangs out with her mates at the weekend.
Her room is a mish-mash of relics that chart her growth from the eight year old girl that moved in to the brand new flat we bought in 1995 to the film student/sketch writer/DJ that she has become.

There are wee stickers of Beatrix Potter (that she hated but I managed to paste to the wall) and posters of Eminem (that I drool over as well) there are high heel shoes scattered around the carpet like land mines and her wee teddy bear she has owned since she was two is tangled up with Play Station wires.
I think I prevent her from moving on to the next stage of her independent life by cosseting her and keeping her emotionally needy. I convinced her that staying here and not moving in with her friend was a great financial decision, when in fact she should have gone and found out for herself!

I do realise that this is not really an expression of motherhood but a selfish act on my part….what would happen if she left?

Would I be scared to face the void left behind? Would husband and I sit there and stare into the abyss of the years left to fill it in with comedy trips, comedy festivals and BBC Radio 4 sessions?

I don’t want to be 46 years old this month, I want to be twenty one and live my life all over again, preferably with Ashley at my side, forever 6 years old- wearing bunches and collecting Polly Pockets and organising day trips to our favourite sea side towns in Scotland. That can’t happen (unless I can get her hormonally injected and genetically deformed to suit my selfish needs, it worked for that wee black guy on US TV)

I spoke to the husbands of some of my friends who had kids at the same time as me and the men were looking forward to getting their wives ‘back’ to just have some fun with the women who had dedicated the best part of 20 years being mothers to broods of babies.
No more early morning school runs, making jam cookies, holidays interrupted by screaming bored teenagers, working extra hours to support students. These men were waiting patiently for the fledglings to fly and get back to having sex on the sofa with the sexy lass they married when Duran Duran were ‘Wild Boys’ back then Adam Ant hadn’t went crazy and George Michael was straight.
Those men may have to wait that bit longer, as recent media articles reveal that young adults are staying at home that bit longer and mostly the mothers are holding them there. Poor husbands!

I don’t have that situation, as my husband raised our daughter as much as I did.

I have been working on the road as a comic for nearly ten years now. I was the one that went away, he was the one who sat through the Nativity plays, the drama club attempts, the teenage sleep-over’s and the countless birthday parties.

Ashley is very territorial with her fathers affection, in fact when she leaves I will be looking forward to ‘getting him to myself’ in a funny sense. I cannot show him any affection in front of Ashley; she gets her giant body wedged firmly between us and demands his full attention!

We both raised her together for the first eight years as we were working parents.
We owned a bar together then and made sure she had plenty of time and love from us both.
My husband was very determined about being a very good loving dad as he suffered from absent father syndrome as did many kids of his generation where the father worked all hours and was hardly seen except on Sundays!
He was a great dad and I tried to be a wonderful mum.

Although one of the best pieces of advice I was given when our daughter was born came from an aging Aunt.
“Always look after your man, because your kids will grow up and leave you soon enough and you will be left with a stranger if you ignore him” she told me as I cradled my new born to my breast.

I thought at the time she was being slightly cruel, but I do know what she meant now and I did try to make sure I was a wife as well as a mother.

So I suppose the reason I persuade our daughter to stay at home is I love her company.
Not many young people share a passion and career with their parent, we both adore performing, we did a sketch show together at last years Edinburgh Fringe and we went on tour together to New Zealand.

She gets me in the way no one else does, we write together and I love being around her wacky sense of humour, we both like the same music and love the same films and comedies.
I am not saying she is my best friend because that would undermine the love we have as mother and daughter.
She and her father share a deep love of foreign films, TV cop shows, radio plays and really enjoy each others company, yet he is still her dad…not some delinquent best pal who happens to have produced her in the mid 80s.

I want her to stay because I love having her in my life.

My husband doesn’t need to wait for me to come back to him after mother hood; I never really left him in the first place.

I say all this just now but I am not sure how I will feel when her room is stripped bare and no evidence of her shows on the carpet or the walls….maybe then I will write something different?_