Childrearing

I Got A Preview Of Empty Nest Syndrome

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I swear, I don’t know how parents do it when their child goes off to college. I mean, I know they do it. I did it. I’ve lived in numerous places, moving out as soon as I could. But did I once think about what my parents were going through? Nope. I suppose because all my friend’s kids are so far off from going to college and because we joke that we can’t wait for that day to come, when it really DOES come, it hurts like a motherfucker.

I want my daughter to experience the world. I have already told her she’s going somewhere out of the city when she graduates high school. It’s all fine when you talk about it, but when it actually happens – and your child is not with you for weeks – well, let’s say the therapist is right. There is a huge void. And, fuck, there’s nothing to prepare you for what you’ll feel, just like there’s nothing that prepares you for menopause.

I WISH it was menopause because this empty nest thing is emotionally painful and draining. I would rather be in physical pain then go through this empty nest emotional pain.

Everything started to suck the day after she left. I’m trying to look at the positives, which is that not only is my daughter having a great time, but also I WILL be prepared when she actually DOES go off to college or move out.

We want our children to grow up and be independent and that day will happen quicker than you think and you will look like me, non-showered, crazy on the phone, looking for a professional to help you through the crisis, crying, “I just want my daughter back.”

The therapist actually gave me some good ideas, journaling my feelings for her to read when she comes back (nixed that. These are grown up feelings.) Or painting her room, doing something that keeps me connected to her while she’s gone (The painting the room idea? I’m on it!) He also said that no one could fill the void – not my family, not my friends, not my baby – except me. Meaning, I should get a fucking hobby or hang out with friends, do anything that will fill the missing void – my daughter – which has caused this depression.

I also understand completely why (on movies or sitcoms or in real life) when a child moves out but comes by only to drop off laundry no one complains. I swear, right now, I’d do 12 loads of laundry to see my daughter for two hours. So brace yourself parents. This is something you will all go through. And the weird thing is, this is what we want, isn’t it? For our children to be independent and happy? So why the heck does it hurt so much?

(photo: Angie.W.)

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