Don’t Wait Till You’re An Empty Nester To Build A Life Outside Home!

Only after my daughter left home to pursue higher studies did I realize that I should have scooped out a few hours every day for myself.

It’s been nearly two years since my fledgling has flown, leaving my nest empty.

“You must be depressed!”, “What do you do all day?”, “You must be feeling lonely and lost without your daughter”, and “If you had had another child, things would have been easier”, were the initial reactions of near and not-so-near ones.

Most of the time, I didn’t know how to react. One reason was I was coming to terms with living without my daughter, and two, I don’t believe in sharing my thoughts and feelings with all and sundry. So, I just stayed mum with a nonchalant smile pasted on my face.

I know I will be judged for being a bad mother for stating this. It is almost 19 years since I had stopped thinking about myself. My focus was on taking care of my daughter and her needs. So, I had hoped that once she left home to pursue her higher studies, I would be able to concentrate on myself fully, totally, and completely.

Here, the tautology used is well-intended. I made plans and more plans not knowing that a devil was smirking behind waiting to unleash itself throwing buckets of ice-cold water on my well-laid-out plans.

Homemakers tend to put all their energies into home and kids

Women and their lives! At every stage and every turn, something is waiting to scare the hell out of them without making the customary ‘BOO’ sound.

When we are at the threshold of puberty it’s the PMS that strikes taking us unawares. We don’t know how and from where it landed. It lands with a promise never to take off, whether we like it or not, it stays with us on board. Within a couple of years when we feel we have caught the storm by its hair we have to ready ourselves for another blow. With the initial honeymooning period receding the challenges of conception take over.

By the time the whole family is reveling in the supposedly good news, we are left coping with pregnancy issues. After dealing with 9 months of prenatal woes finally, the baby arrives. For a moment we forget all the problems we had faced so far on seeing the small bundle of joy laid delicately on our forearms.

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If you are lucky, you get spared of the postpartum depression. If you aren’t then you have another uninvited guest to host.

The journey of motherhood is filled with troughs and crests. One moment you feel on top of the world and the next moment you are hurled to the ground, mind you from the same ‘top of the world’ height. By the time you feel you have mastered the art of mothering, you have touched middle age.

Grow an interest before your life becomes empty…

Now back to my story. When my daughter left home to pursue her higher studies, I heaved a long sigh of both fret and relief. Now you must be wondering how can I go through two strong emotions at the same time. This is something complementary that comes with mothering. One can smile and frown, cry and laugh, feel relieved and yet worry, there’s more to the list. But I will leave it to this for now.

What do you think was waiting for me at my threshold with a wide smirk pasted on its face? Anxiety, palpitations, tiredness, heavy and painful periods, insomnia- when I drawled out the unending symptoms to my doctor, she just smiled and said, “No worries, you are perimenopausal. It will take another 5 to 8 years for you to reach menopause. And the menopause and post-menopausal phase goes on for the next 8 years. Then the hormones will settle down and you will have no problems.”

Sitting there wiping away the beads of sweat dancing on my face, I did the math. Now I am 47. Another 8 years of perimenopause makes it 55. Another eight years of menopausal woes make it 63 years. What does it leave me with to enjoy? Is this some kind of a joke God is choosing to play on womankind? If yes, then he can certainly have His last laugh” I walked out of the doctor’s cabin armed with a long prescription of supplements. Ironically whenever a problem creeps up the first person, I blame is God.

There are days when my heartbeat sounds louder than the beats of a drum. My moods are obstinate enough to dance to its beats. It swings higher than the giant swings dangling in amusement parks. I can cry at the drop of a hat. I sometimes wonder where the copious supply of tears is stored and how they know the exact moment to flow down my cheeks.  I toss and turn in bed every night and if this could be considered an exercise, I would be burning more calories than I consume.

An emptiness has slowly made its way into my heart. I feel lost at times like I have been blindfolded and left in the forest and I am not able to find my way out.

Earlier I would wonder how time flew. From 5 in the morning to 11 at night I used to be on my toes, cooking, cleaning, tutoring, taking my daughter to her classes, and visiting my parents. But now everything seems to move in a slow and lean way.

Women are usually discouraged from talking about their health issues

I thought long and hard to find myself out of this sticky situation.

Recently I read about actress Shamita Shetty voicing her concerns about going through perimenopause. It made me feel good. No! don’t get me wrong. The reason for feeling good is understanding that I have someone for company.

Women can never be caught discussing their health issues.  The ‘How are you? is always met with polite answers like I am ok, I am fine, I am alright. We are conditioned to bear period pains, labor pains, and all other pains that come our way by gritting our teeth. Sadly, it’s not ok, it’s not fine and it’s not alright to brush things under the carpet.

I feel talking about it could bring about awareness and also make one feel better. One (wo)man’s medicine could be another (wo)man’s medicine too.

I started digging deep into menopause and its repercussions. The more I dug the more information I unearthed. At the end of the excavations, I learned that there is certainly no cure for menopausal issues but a few lifestyle changes could make the swim across the hormonal tide seem easier.

Only after my daughter left home to pursue higher studies did I realize that I should have scooped out a few hours every day for myself. Waiting for nearly 20 years to do something for myself was a huge mistake. Once bitten twice shy. I certainly don’t want to make the same mistake again.

This time I want to be the one to say “Boo” to all my woes. I have decided to concentrate on taking up writing as a career. As they say, it’s never too late to start. If I could take all the bulls that have barged into my life by its horns, I can handle this too.

No more blaming games and no more cribbing. By tweaking small lifestyle changes I choose to (Meno)pause in peace.

My nest may be empty but the echoes of a life well-lived will reverberate in it forever.

Image source: a still from English Vinglish

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About the Author

Vidya Sanath

I am a certified digital content writer. I enjoy reading and writing. My thoughts effortlessly cascade down into ripples of short stories and poems. For me, writing has proven to be cathartic. Fitness and diet read more...

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