The emptiness of parenthoodEmpty nest syndrome is the phrase used to describe the situation that occurs when all the kiddies fly the coop, leaving mom and dad alone in an empty house, a.k.a. “nest.”
By: Jill Pertler, Superior Telegram
Empty nest syndrome is the phrase used to describe the situation that occurs when all the kiddies fly the coop, leaving mom and dad alone in an empty house, a.k.a. “nest.”
Wikipedia describes the syndrome as being accompanied by a general feeling of loneliness or abandonment. Not everyone perceives it this way.
The nest may be empty but the glass is often half full. Many empty nesters embrace their situation. They believe having less people in the household leads to more – as in more time to pursue hobbies and other leisure pursuits as well as more money to spend on restaurants, vacations and other accessories to pad the nest.
Both optimists and pessimists agree empty nest syndrome signifies a beginning. What they may not realize is that it is also an ending, serving as a culmination of a long line of emptiness that goes hand in hand with parenthood.
I came to this conclusion when I noted a behavior pattern with a number of my friends. We aren’t yet empty nesters, but our children have grown older and more independent. While their need for nurturing has decreased, our ability to provide it has not. This leads us to the obvious. In an attempt to find an outlet for our need to nurture we add a baby to the household.
Mine is a kitten. I have at least three friends who recently added a puppy to their brood. Our actions call attention to one of a myriad of empty moments in parenthood. I call this example empty lap syndrome.
There are more.
During pregnancy, parents realize the daunting and awesome task before them is even bigger than making the car payment on time. They will be responsible for another life and for helping mold their child’s attitudes, beliefs and values about the world – a consciousness known as empty canvas syndrome.
This is followed by a number of empty syndromes, which build to a crescendo more deafening than the quiet of an empty nest.
After a baby is born, empty womb syndrome kicks in. A few years later, when a baby is ready to move into a big boy (or girl) bed, parents find themselves smack dab in the middle of empty crib syndrome. (Unless they decide to compensate for their emptiness by refilling the crib. Wink.)
When a child is around age 12 or 13, right before his or her big growing spurt, parents experience empty fridge syndrome. Soon thereafter comes empty closet syndrome, often characterized by the declaration, “Mom, none of my clothes fit anymore!”
On a child’s sixteenth birthday (give or take a day or two) parents find themselves in the midst of empty garage syndrome (also known as empty gas tank syndrome).
At age 18, children graduate from high school. If they go on to college, parents may be deluged with empty bank account syndrome. This is closely related to empty wallet syndrome, which unlike the other syndromes lasts the duration of parenthood and often well into the years spanning empty nest syndrome.
This brings us full circle – to the empty nest portion of our program. Our little birds grow up and fly away on their own two wings. If we are lucky, they come back to visit often – perhaps bringing their own little birdies with them when they do. One can only hope.
Parenthood is filled with empty moments that come as a mandatory part of the package. Most are related to letting go, which for some of us comes as one of the toughest parts of the job.
Children enter our lives and it seems like they will be children forever. They learn to stand, then walk, then run and finally fly and all we can do is watch in awe. They may grow up and leave us with a nest that is empty, but when we look back, we understand that because of them our life has been anything but.
Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.