Thursday, October 14, 2010

Empty Nest Syndrome

(In Times of India- Soul Curry)

I could not comprehend the  implications of  the phrase 'Empty Nest Syndrome' until  my only son left home for his engineering college. Of course, I knew that once he left, we will miss him.  But I had not bargained for what came thereafter. It wasn't easy to accept the quiet, deserted, empty environs of a home that once reverberated with music and chatter. More so, as we are a family of three .

On receiving a letter from his college confirming admission, there were exuberant celebrations in the family. My son was happy. He was looking forward to fueling his dreams of a bright future. I was engulfed by a sense of relief .No more tuitions, no more parent teacher meetings and no more board exams.
The lurking fear of an ‘Empty Nest’ did not surface amidst all the congratulatory messages that poured in. Perhaps, I was consciously trying to avoid the reality.

Anxiety crept in as I started to pack bags for his hostel life. I went through a roller coaster ride of an entire gamut of emotions from anxiety to emptiness. I was worried about the scare of ragging, the insipid hostel food, his unknown room mates and the pressures of work load.

Before leaving, I asked him “Are you excited about going to a hostel”? I was hoping for, “No mom, I don't want to go. I wish could stay at home.”

I realized, he was being polite when he casually said, “Ya, kind of."
He was looking forward to taste freedom and independence, for there is nothing wrong with experiencing life. Growth is a process of trial and error: Experimentation.

The toughest moment was, when I had to say goodbye to him - at the hostel gate.The deluge of emotions were no different from the ones I felt while sending him to a kinder garden fourteen years ago. Then, at age four, he was clinging on to my saree - not wanting to be left alone. At seventeen, he was comforting me. ‘I will be fine ma, you take care’, he said. The tenderness of that moment will always be etched in my mind.

Once we returned home all the anxiety settled down as emptiness. I and my husband have accepted the dull, lifeless atmosphere of our home. A home that used to reverberate with sounds of loud music, incessant chatter of youth and the aromas of pizzas and burgers. The refrigerator is no more stocked with chocolates and ice creams.  The house is no more littered with clothes, shoes or bags. Monthly arguments regarding his disheveled clothes and overdue haircut now transpire only during semester breaks.
Now when I call my son, I can overhear friends around him. Away from home, friends are the strongest support system he has. It has been six months since Goutam left. He  has settled down well.  He has new friends, he is participating in various fests and is busy finishing his assignments. I have learnt to deal with the solitude and a quiet home.

The fact that my child is happy has motivated me to accept the plan of life. I have reconciled to the fact, that he is away from home to weave his own dreams. To pursue his own destiny.
This is also a time to expand my mind and spirit by indulging in my hobbies. I have decided to pursue reading, writing, educating other kids, and doing things which I was not able to do before due to constraint of time.
Now is the time for personal renewal, to stop cribbing about what I don’t have and to make the most of everything I have. Of course, I look forward to the semester breaks when we can all be together as a family.

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  1. It was nice to know what a parent feels when the child leaves for further studies.
    The pic somehow made me feel senti-menti. I wonder how my parents cope with my absence.
    Take care :)

  2. @Goutam..Its ur Bangalore room.

    @Sh@s, Thanks for stopping by. Your scribblings on the wall are engaging....

  3. Thanks Mayank...It was straight from the heart.

  4. Wow..really nice..very very well in US for my studies as well and just realised that's exactly the same thing my mom would have gone through....awesome post mam...