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At last, we’re Dikes! Dual Income, Kids Evicted. By Town Mouse - Tom Hodgkinson

Regulars | By Tom Hodgkinson


The little mice are slowly leaving the nest. We see them less and less.

The little mice are slowly leaving the nest. We see them less and less.

A few weeks ago, Mrs Mouse and I had our first taste of an empty house. We had a three-week stretch with no little mice in the house.

Now Mrs Mouse had always feared this moment. Before the day came, she started looking at various therapists online, because she reckoned she might need some counselling. Well, we dropped the eldest mouse, who is 24, and still living at home, at the airport for a long business trip to India. Mrs Mouse shed a tear on the journey back and I feared the worst. Mothers don’t like losing their children. I remember that when I was a country mouse living on a farm, when the calves were taken from the cows, the mothers lowed and wailed for a week.

But within about 24 hours, Mrs Mouse had adjusted. She’d adjusted very well. In fact, she was joyful.

‘This is wonderful,’ she said. ‘I hadn’t realised just how much brain space they

were taking up. And it’s pure bliss to have so little laundry to do.’ Empty-nest syndrome? Paf. This was like the old, pre-children days. Freedom.

We certainly didn’t miss the crashing of the front door at 4am when Mouse Jr returned from his night-time revels. We didn’t miss making an effort to cook for him in the evening, and then staring at an empty place setting at dinner, before he arrived home at 10pm with a kebab. And we didn’t miss his monosyllabic summaries of his day: ‘Fine.’

I have never understood ‘empty-nest syndrome’. This is because my mother, Granny Mouse, was a little unconventional. She was not the most maternal of mothers. When I came home from university in July 1989, she said first, ‘Don’t regress!’ And then, ‘You’ve got a month – then you’re out!’

From the age of 21, I was renting my own room in London. That was it. And tough Granny Mouse is appalled that my 24-year-old son is still living at home.

The little mice are slowly leaving the nest. We see them less and less.

A few weeks ago, Mrs Mouse and I had our first taste of an empty house. We had a three-week stretch with no little mice in the house.

Now Mrs Mouse had always feared this moment. Before the day came, she started looking at various therapists online, because she reckoned she might need some counselling. Well, we dropped the eldest mouse, who is 24, and still living at home, at the airport for a long business trip to India. Mrs Mouse shed a tear on the journey back and I feared the worst. Mothers don’t like losing their children. I remember that when I was a country mouse living on a farm, when the calves were taken from the cows, the mothers lowed and wailed for a week.

But within about 24 hours, Mrs Mouse had adjusted. She’d adjusted very well. In fact, she was joyful.

‘This is wonderful,’ she said. ‘I hadn’t realised just how much brain space they

were taking up. And it’s pure bliss to have so little laundry to do.’ Empty-nest syndrome? Paf. This was like the old, pre-children days. Freedom.

We certainly didn’t miss the crashing of the front door at 4am when Mouse Jr returned from his night-time revels. We didn’t miss making an effort to cook for him in the evening, and then staring at an empty place setting at dinner, before he arrived home at 10pm with a kebab. And we didn’t miss his monosyllabic summaries of his day: ‘Fine.’

I have never understood ‘empty-nest syndrome’. This is because my mother, Granny Mouse, was a little unconventional. She was not the most maternal of mothers. When I came home from university in July 1989, she said first, ‘Don’t regress!’ And then, ‘You’ve got a month – then you’re out!’

From the age of 21, I was renting my own room in London. That was it. And tough Granny Mouse is appalled that my 24-year-old son is still living at home.



This story was from Spring 2024 issue. Subscribe Now