Sunday, July 10, 2011

empty nest

Empty nest syndrome is a general feeling of loneliness that parents or guardians may feel when one or more of their children leave home; it is more common in women. When children move away, mothers can get empty nest syndrome, which is generally accepted as the lonely, abandoned feeling of the home being empty.  The marriage of a child can lead to similar feelings, with the role and influence of the parents often becoming less important compared to the new spouse. A strong maternal or paternal bond between the parent and child can make the condition worse. The role of the parent while the child is still living with them is more hands-on and immediate than is possible when they have moved out, particularly if the distance means that visits are difficult.  In order to fill the void of the empty house, many people look for something that is living and breathing that will take their mind off of their feelings, like a pet.
As the cycle of life continues, all parents realize the passage of their offspring onto their own nests will someday arrive.  Many parents anticipate this passage and even encourage their baby birds to launch on their own, providing the freedom to enjoy their living quarters in peace and quiet.  We have tasted glimpses of this passage as our babies begin their own journey ~ usually on the weekends but eventually, they, too, will find permanent nests away from the one they were born and raised.  I must admit, I thoroughly enjoy having a full house and was one those moms who looked forward to summer so she could spend more time with them.  I imagine when our home is officially empty, I may have a bittersweet notion of the empty nest syndrome, but alas, I will adapt, knowing they need to spread their wings and fly.  
I ran across this cartoon and had to share, as it may be comical, however, I personally know many couples that separated when they encountered the empty nest.  Sometimes, particularly when the mother devotes her entire essence to the total well-being and success of her children, she finds herself without an identity when they launch on their own.  Suddenly, she realizes the only tapestry with her mate was because of the children, and being alone with her mate just doesn't cut it anymore.  This is sad, but oh, so true, in too many instances.  If you find you are approaching empty nesting, ponder your relationship and goals for a happy future with your mate.  Remember you began as a couple, and as circles often do, you will come around as a couple. 
Rediscover common interests, and if you have lost some of the spark, work on rekindling and seek new avenues.  Enjoy life a little more selfishly, with each other more often.  Spend time with other empty nesters and share your stories and help each other through the process.  Bask in the knowledge you both did a fantastic job of raising your children to be able to continue their journey independently and be proud of their courage to take the leap on their own.  After a quarter of a century, you may find yourself asking "where did the time go?"  You are not alone.  Plus, they usually come back to visit, anyway, and the best part is they will begin their own nests, and have their own baby birdies! 
And you can always bond with your pets, who are, after all, just like your babies, anyway! xo