Well, the first of my two kids has been shipped off to the next stage of his life – – university. So now, I guess, I have to settle into the next stage of my life – – the Empty Nest.
Okay, it’s not an Empty Nest yet, but it’s starting. Maybe we can call it an “Emptier” Nest.
“Empty Nest Syndrome” is defined as a feeling of grief and loneliness parents feel when their children leave home for the first time.
Research shows that, traditionally, mothers seem to be more susceptible to Empty Nest Syndrome, although it can afflict both parents,
Research also suggests that parents who suffer most share some of the
- they don’t embrace change well and find it stressful
- they themselves found leaving home difficult and emotional
- their marriage is unstable or unsatisfactory
- they rely on their role as a parent for self-identity or self-worth
- full time parents may have a harder time
- parents may worry that their children aren’t ready to take on adult responsibilities
The Empty Nest challenges faced by parents can include:
- developing a new kind of relationship with their children as adults
- developing a new routine that does not include the children
- being alone as a couple after 20 years or even more
- new found free time – what to do, what to do
Emotions can be compounded when the Empty Nest timing coincides with other major life events such as retirement, loss of a parent or a spouse (death or even divorce) and menopause.
I’m actually a little surprised because I’m not the weeping mess I thought I would be. My emptying nest feels more like a beginning than an end.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. And they’ve really been great kids. Not a lot of trouble – attitude yes, but not trouble.
But my philosophy as a mother has always been that if I do my job right, the kids will grow up and go away. That’s what they’re supposed to do. And if I’m reasonably confident with the job I’ve done, I should be proud that they are able to leave. And want to leave.
Personally, I think my son wanted to leave a little too much. The countdown started four months ago – only 120 more days! That was a little hard to swallow at first but I’m glad that he was excited to be on his own.
And maybe I was a little too eager for him to leave. I bought my new FIT chair and started working at the desk in his bedroom (my new office) a week after moving him into residence. But that was being practical, it had nothing to do with emotion. And even less to do with the fact that the room still smells like my little boy.
I think one of the best ways to cope with the eventual Empty Nest is simply to prepare.
My kids have gradually been creating their own lives and the amount of time I actually spend “caring” for them has been getting less and less every year. I now have time to pursue other interests and hobbies like exercising, joining a club and starting a blog!
Trust me, I had lots of time to think about other interests during the “chauffeur” years. You know, when your primary role was driving the kids around!
Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net