As A Solo Mom, How Did I Deal With The Pain The Words ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ Evoke?

Posted: May 1, 2018

Just the words ’empty nest syndrome’ became a pain point for me, even before my kids were old enough to fly. This is how I dealt with it, as a solo mom.

A few years ago, I was doing a series of articles on the “Empty Nest Syndrome” for a client.

Sometime, after almost three fourth of one article, I found myself unable to write. It was as though something visceral, deep within me was bursting to come out. I stopped hitting the keyboard and sat still for a moment. And then I let myself sob. Unrelentingly. Unstoppably. For a good ten minutes.

My reaction surprised me. My elder son still had two years to go to college. And my younger had lots more. So was I not being a tad too dramatic even by my own standards?

I did not think much about the incident and put it all down to hormones and PMS.

Come 2017 and the article began doing the rounds again. In my head. In my ears. And in my tummy.

My elder one cracked the entrance exam of the institute he wanted to study at.

We celebrated.

Deconstructing the empty, the nest and the Syndrome

As I began getting things ready for him, I wondered about that crazy, dramatic morning when I was doing the article. And that was when it struck me— It was the word syndrome. When preceded by empty and nest, it produced a cadence that was disturbing. Almost like a cacophony. But inaudible.

I looked up syndrome and sure enough, I was not wrong.

This is what Merriam Webster says about the word:

  1. a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition
  2. a set of concurrent things (such as emotions or actions) that usually form an identifiable pattern

I hated patterns. Especially the ones that were meant to condition me in negative ways. And limit me. And not to forget limit my kids as well.

Personalized interpretations

I knew, I had to re-define the word in a manner where my kids and I would be able to embrace it. Sans drama. With joy, hope and love.

I said Empty Nest aloud. And the following interpretations opened up immediately—

Empty for possibilities. Many of them. Tending towards infinity.

Nest for the space where you transform those possibilities into dreams and convert them into actions.

That left me with syndrome

I was not ready to say that medical-y, stuck-up word aloud. I kid you not, when I do that, a sickly fruity smell gets lodged in my throat and refuses to leave. Which meant, I had to replace the word with something else.

Movement.

A word that spelled dynamism and  pushed you to experiment. To move forward. Or upward. Or in a diagonal manner. To quicken your pace one moment. And slow it down the very next. To be the master of your own rhythm. Walk. Run. Sway. Flow. Breathe. Remain still. And gather momentum again. Like a river. Like a stream.

So how do you transition from syndrome to movement?

I made a commitment

To myself. To my children. That I won’t anchor myself in the so called symptoms associated with the empty nest.

I will initiate a movement movements.

Here are some of the commitments I made:

  1. I will complete my MA(Psychology) within the next 2 years. (Status— Enrolled, made a beginning)
  2. I will do an NLP course. (Status—Enrolled. Will update again in the beginning of December after I finish the course)
  3. I will write more frequently. (Status—Did two essays, two food posts, one short story and answered many questions on Quora within the last two months).
  4. I will focus on my health. (Status—Walking for forty five minutes daily.)
  5. I will rekindle my love for reading. (Status—Lost count of the number of books I read in the last 3 months).
  6. I will focus on networking. (Status—A dear friend made me aware how much I made progress in this)
  7. I will re-do my working space. (Status—in progress)
  8. I will have an artist’s date with myself. (Status—not yet begun)
  9. I will go on an all girls’ trip with my girl friends. (Status—will update in the first week of February, 2018)
  10. I will conduct a writing workshop. (Status—Conceptualized)

How did all these actionable steps help me?

Investing in myself showed me that I still valued myself as a woman. This was a liberating feeling.

I laughed more easily. These are some of the silly conversations I have with my elder one over the phone.

I was finally able to let go of Mommy guilt.

I was able to set my elder one’s mind at rest. Knowing that I am not anchoring myself in pain, he is able to focus completely on his studies.

I managed to make my younger one all excited about food writing.

Now every time, someone asks me how I am coping with the intense loneliness and whether I am planning to shift to my parents’ place now that P is in college(I don’t know how that will make me miss P any less but this question keeps popping up quite frequently), I nod sagely and tell them that I have plans. Thousand of them.

Published here earlier.

Image source: pixabay

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Sridevi Datta is a freelance content writer and editor. She blogs at "The Write Journey"

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