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Monday, September 15, 2008

Is the Empty Nest Experience Real?

Except for other women and men who are either experiencing the empty nest syndrome or are preparing for this phenomenon in the next couple of years, no one cares a hoot about the fact that you going through one of the most amazing experiences that life has to offer. Warning to all upcoming Parents preparing for their kids to leave the nest: there will be very little sympathy or recognition that this is a weird time for you. The world, in general, expects us to suck it up and pretend that our whole worlds have not changed traumatically.

I am trying to decide whether this reaction (or rather the lack thereof) from our loved ones is due to the fact that they see our needs and feelings as unimportant or irrelevant or that they have taken their cues from the general society position that finds this empty-nester transformation rather boring and pitiful. I want to believe that this complete dismissal of our experience is due to the over exposure that the empty nest syndrome has had in the past decade. Well, whatever you believe, it is real and important to the person going through it.

Similar to other major life changes, like losing your job, or going through a divorce, we all will handle the situation differently. No two people will feel the same way but they are all in fact, experiencing something. There is also no scientific research that supports the notion that one particular group (such as career Moms, stay-at-home Dads, etc) will have more difficulty with this major life change. Many times, one parent has felt little difference once the kids have left the nest while the other is experiencing major trauma.

Was I expecting big hugs from my husband each time I break into tears over a picture I see like the one below? Maybe. That would be nice.

Did I think people would ask me how I am feeling now that both Jonathan and Laura are thousands of miles away and Andy had his first day at work, at an event or a party I am attending? Maybe. It might be comforting to express some of the thoughts I have in my head and fun to tell them all the wonderful stories they have shared with me over the phone.

So far, if I want to vent or express my feelings, I mostly do it online with my new "Internet friends" or other Moms who are experiencing the empty nest themselves. And I thank every single one of you for listening, commenting and sharing your stories with me! It is a beautiful, awful, unbelievable time that deserves to be recognized and appreciated.

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Blogger jenboglass said...

I found you because of your hilarious and embarassing tale at Stiletto Mom. I'm not an emptynester, I'm at the opposite end, we've just hatched our little ones so we've got at least 18 years of chaos under our roof.

September 19, 2008 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Yes, yes, yes ... the empty nest is, indeed, real! My younger son never knew his dad, because he was killed when Rhett was three years old. I'm the only parent he's ever known, and we're pretty close, so this empty house and change in lifestyle has certainly been an adjustment for me.

I will say, though, that yesterday was refreshing with autumn-lie breezes; and I savored doing yard work and even moping my floors (which I detest). I just have my own schedule now. My friends who have gone through this phase of life years ago assure me that while it's both real and painful, one does arrive at a place of peace and joy.

September 21, 2008 at 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your daughter looks adorable studying so hard!

September 21, 2008 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa Eshelman said...

I have a senior in high school and the feelings and emotions have already hit. I can't imagine not being with my kids when they are experiencing life, like a new job, school and friends. I have spent my whole adult life as mom even though working and enjoying my identity, my true joy is being mom.Thanks for sharing your experiences and emotions.

September 29, 2008 at 10:51 AM  

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