Empty nest syndrome creates anxiety for even the most independent women. Next to childbirth, it’s one of the biggest transitions a mother can make. For many, it’s a personal struggle to come to terms with one’s own feelings of loss and change—especially when associated with such a seemingly positive event, such as your child getting into a prestigious college.
Psychologists say it can take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years before women experiencing symptoms of empty nest syndrome start to fully recover. Many don’t even realize these symptoms can set in long before their children leave home. Feelings of desertion can begin for some moms as early as when their kids enter middle school and start to express a need for independence.
While it’s only normal and natural to feel a sense of loss when your kids leave home, it’s up to you (with a little help from your friends) to pull through and shine light, however dim it may be, on your life. Though many women experience sadness and depression, many find ways to embrace the positive and as a result, discover happiness.
Overwhelmingly emotional as it may seem, some women do manage to make the transition from caretaker to independent woman seem well, fun! In the hopes to inspire your newborn liberty, i♥moms would like to introduce Linda Pagnella, empty-nester of two, who is living life better than ever now that the kids have flown the coop:
Empty Nesting…What’s The Secret?
By Linda Pagnella, Pacific Grove CA
My husband Jim and I were married in 1976 and had four years before our first child, Jimmy was born. Gina came along 3 years later. As in most families our lives were dominated by our day to day chores. My husband worked and I was a stay at home mom.
I was one of those moms. The mom that baked the cookies. The mom that volunteered in the classroom. The mom that drove the team to sports events. You know the kind. My kids really were my life. Then my daughter left for college the same year my son saved up enough money to buy his own house.
What can I say? I know there are lots of parents that would love to be in our place. But it was hard.
You have done your job. Now you hope for the best. Hope that all the lessons have been learned. Hope that all the lectures have sunk in. You still worry, but it is a different kind of worry. You soon come to realize that even though you miss a lot of the parenting, there is a kind of relief.
But, it is still hard. The quiet is probably the worse. No more loud music. No more bickering. No children’s laughter. No more listening for the door when they should be coming home. No more supporting them in college. You buy too many groceries and cook too much for a while.
What you don’t miss is the feeling that you have no time for your partner. Suddenly there is time for the two of you to walk on the beach. You can have wine and cheese for dinner if you want (not to say it was that easy).
You have to remember what it felt like on your wedding day. That giddy feeling does come back. You have to remember those things you loved to do when you were first together.
When you aren’t supporting your kids you have a little more money to spend on each other. We make a point of going out to eat more often. We take advantage of living in a wonderful tourist destination and try to spend a night at a local hotel just for the heck of it. We tried to come up with new traditions (my favorite is watching the sunset at Asilomar beach).
When it is again just the two of you, you can focus on each other. And then comes the bonus! This year we will welcome our first grandchild into our family. The empty nest won’t be that empty for long!