To call 20-year-olds children is a huge mistake, but from a mother’s perspective, they will always be children to me. My daughter and her boyfriend arrived two nights ago from Florence and Exeter respectively, and will spend Christmas with me. And just like that, my little apartment is full, the cats are excited to have other human company again, and things are different.

Funny how we spend 18 years raising our children at home, grumbling at all the work and challenges that this fixed – and stressful – routine brings. Our lives are pinned to a school calendar and a microcosm in which our lives revolve around completely, regardless of whether you work or not. Parenting a full-time job. Then, all of a sudden, the children grow up, pack their bags and leave and everything collapses. Empty Nest syndrome is harder to deal with than most books lead you to believe, especially if you only have one child.

For me, Empty Nest came at a very turbulent time in my life, adding to the already chaotic situation where everything crumbled around me. One is supposed to take death, divorce, displacement, relocation, depression, and Empty Nest one at a time, but no, I ended up with everything at once. But there is no use crying over spilt milk, so I might as well just plough on.

The last two years of living alone have taught me a lot, and I have adjusted mentally and emotionally, straddling between acceptance and letting go, and building my sanctum sanctorum. So when my space is invaded and the bedroom looks as though two atomic bombs exploded out of the suitcases, my nerves are shattered. The mess is contained to the bedroom, thankfully, and the kitchen and dining table are delightfully messy. Having two more Asians in the house means that the rice cooker is on full duty again! I say this with glee because the messy kitchen and full dishwasher are indications of life in the apartment again, and for that I am grateful.