I’ve heard the phrase Empty Nest Syndrome many times over the years but honestly, I dismissed it because I never really felt that way when my daughter went off to college. I was more excited to watch her become a functioning adult than to feel sad that she was leaving home. After all, I still had Bailey (golden retriever) and Sadie (kitty) at home and they provided great joy as they greeted me each day.
My daughter and I are each other’s best friend. We don’t always agree on things but we both recognize that each of us is strong willed and accept that we don’t need to agree. So when we do disagree, we get over it and move on. Sounds healthy enough for a mother/daughter relationship.
So when she went off to college she and high school sweetheart had already decided they were going to move in together. While I didn’t approve, I devised three potential outcomes:
1. She would learn to share because as an only child she never had to share anything.
2. She would learn that living with a man (boy in this case) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
3. It would save me money by not having to pay for housing she probably wouldn’t be sleeping in anyway. Let’s be practical!
So out of the nest she flew to live with high school sweetheart. She got a job, attended classes everyday, studied and achieved good grades while playing Susie homemaker in their playhouse. I was content as everything seemed to be working according to their plan and I felt no empty nester anxiety for I had raised her to be independent, fiscally responsible and respectful of others.
Does ENS strike only those parents who fear their child can’t function without them? Is it a control issue? Or is it simply the lonely feeling of missing your child’s presence?
Fast forward fourteen years, my daughter and high school sweetheart have now been married a few months shy of ten years and have two beautiful children ages 5 and 3. My daughter learned a lot in those years they lived together and has no regrets. I’ve watched my son-in-law mature into a wonderful husband and father.
As for me, I’m just now experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome. After two weeks together in France, I’m missing my daughter. My nest feels empty. I woke up during the night to move the comforter over her like I did on our trip, like I did when she was a little girl. I’m sure this is normal, it’s that internal motherly instinct.
I’m intelligent enough to figure out these empty feelings will pass once I get back into my routine. It’s just a reflective moment of feeling deep gratitude for the time Kate and I had together on our trip, feeling so grateful she married high school sweetheart who eagerly supported her decision to leave her young family for 10 days so she could spread her wings.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway