Home Flown – The Laymamma’s Guide to an Empty Nest
Published August 2014
My son, Chris, first left home 7 years ago now. To be honest, I was quite looking forward to having some time to myself so was shocked by the tsunami of different feelings that bowled me over.
Rather naively, I imagined that children leaving home was a straightforward part of the whole melee that is parenting and was not prepared for quite how bumpy it all was. I wouldn’t say that it was all bad and I wouldn’t say that it was all good but it was complicated.
I then found that the phase of life that is coined as the ‘empty nest’ is something that nobody really talks about. As with any kind of loss, people tend to think that they have to keep it to themselves. When I did get talking to mums, they were really keen to relay their experiences and how it has affected them. Each and every person had a different story to tell, but at the heart of each story was the voice of a mum with a great love for their child or children.
I also looked around for books on the subject and there does not seem to be a great deal written given that it is something that happens to so many people. And so, ‘Home Flown – The Laymamma’s Guide to the Empty Nest’ was born. I have written the things that I wished that I had known at the time of my own son leaving home. Also in the ensuing years when he was back and forth to the family home, and still is to be honest.
It is written with humour and dashes of wisdom, which is parenting itself really. Without a sense of humour not many of us would get through child rearing and all the surprises that it delivers.
Not everything that is written will apply to everybody but I hope that you will find some words that will resonate with your experiences. I also hope that it will help us all to talk more about this complicated and huge transition in our lives.
No Wonder We’re All Mad
Due to be published on June 2nd 2015
I used to work as a social worker in a community mental health team and I have wanted to write this book for some years in response to the stories that I listened to at that time. I am now a storyteller but I began my working life as a story listener and a great privilege it was too. What I found, though, was that people’s stories were often pathologised in order to receive support. This is not the fault of anyone in particular but it is how madness is viewed within our society. We are all trained from birth to fear the madness that lies within us all but, we all, at some point in our lives, find the wheels coming off of our trollies to some greater or lesser degree. There are certain things in life that are guaranteed to send us mad, and I have talked about these in the book, such as family, work, grief, media, falling in love and I’m sure it could be an endless list. The very story of madness itself changes at an alarming rate and, historically, people have not been viewed and treated kindly for showing what is essentially very human emotions to very human events in life. We all have a story around difficult times in our lives. Grief is an unavoidable rite of passage but it is not always easy to share our stories in order to be able to make sense of them. Telling our stories is one of the most significant ways of constructing and expressing meaning and within this book, ‘No Wonder We’re All Mad’ I have shared some of my stories and those of others. It is with the sharing of our stories that we can know that we are not mad, or that we are and that is alright, and that we are not alone. ‘No Wonder We’re All Mad’ is written with humour and with the hope that it will encourage other people to share their wonderous and fascinating stories as each and every one of us has a story to tell.