I now see that empty nest families, whether divorced or not, have a lot in common because the family doesn’t live together anymore. Attitudes towards meals have moved away from ‘That time when we’re dragged away from our phones or whatever else we’re absorbed in to sit together and make small talk while one or the other teenager acts out either by singing loudly or by making everyone wait for dinner while she finishes her book.’
Now a family meal has turned into an occasion. Its an opportunity to catch up with each other to excitedly share the news that can’t be typed on WhatsApp or talked on the phone, to have a tête-à-tête that requires us to sit on the same sofa, preferably with a glass of wine as we cuddle a cat or fend off dogs. We’re like any other empty nest family. Mother and father, children and their significant others, pets and much talking, supporting and civilised airing of minor grievances. Each of my children has confided that she prefers the family gatherings to other outings which is testimony to the family space being a beautiful happy place of sharing, strength and comfort.
Most of us live in different cities but we remain in touch with each other through the day wishing each other ‘Good morning’ on the family WhatsApp group, sharing articles we have read, forwarding dog videos and cat jokes, getting the family opinion on shoes that we’re considering buying, sending Selfies wearing mermaid lipstick, airing our grouses about colleagues, the weather, the state of the world, Trump and Modi, fashion and fitness. If someone has a cough, four suggestions for tackling it will pop into the group. If someone else has a ridiculous assistant we will support her with ideas for dealing with him. There is real caring and empathy amongst us.
A family is still a family, even if they don’t live under the same roof in the same city or even in the same country.
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
As we walk on by
And, and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won’t tell no lie
All, all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose…