Empty nester

I thought I had left it all behind. The angst, ennui, weltschmerz – whatever you call it. Yes, I had resolved my dissatisfaction with the real world by the time I graduated from college. I had stopped yearning for an ideal world where people lived in peace with one another. I had, indeed, become pragmatic.

But the old feeling that was a part of my growing-up years seems to have crept back into me last year. Or the year before. I was just getting aware – it was gnawing at the edge of my consciousness – that I would soon be an empty nester. Okay, it was still a couple of years away, but the thought of my youngest leaving for college filled me with dread. How would the world treat her? Before I knew it, I was on this trip reviewing what sort of mom I had been, and had I done things right by her or not. I started writing it all down and that’s how all those Parenting blogposts happened, over just two months. DSC00651

I don’t even know when the irrational wish for the country and the world to be a Shangri-La for her took over my being, but I started fretting: about the state of India, the world, religion and violence, genetically modified foods and lots of other wholly unnecessary things, I now think. Even the happy-ish posts and photos on my blog are often compensatory; they follow particularly pessimistic write-ups. The weltschmerz was back, but in a form I didn’t recognise, because this was to do with wanting to send my special little girl out into a perfect, safe world.

Just yesterday it occurred to me that this is what I’ve been doing. I’ve been using this blog as a place to dump all the anxiety associated with the big change an empty nest brings. No more laughing over bits of school gossip, meals together at the table, neatly-pressed school uniforms, ear rings and hair bands appearing in odd places, off-key music practice pieces and frustrated yells from rooms – all the little details that make a home, home. More of the kids’ stuff than mine going on. I’ll have to find ‘my stuff’ again. The Me I was before I became Mama doesn’t exist, and the present Me is a modified version that’s been beaten into a new shape by happenings and people.

We were talking about College Applications yesterday, my big-little girl and I, when I realized, almost like an epiphany, that she’s ready to fly the nest. I felt a deep calm settling into my heart. Yes, I was ready to let her go.

And the weltschmerz left me like a genie charging out of an uncorked bottle, and disappeared.

She’ll be fine. And so will I.

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9 thoughts on “Empty nester

  1. I feel the same Shyamala… though my fledgeling has not left the nest… but I feel sad at the world we will leave them with… Yes, they’ll survive.. just as we survived in this changing world… but increasing violence, insensitivity and corruption in this world fills me with a nameless fear… especially as we have tried to give them the values we hold dear… Life DOES go on… but…. still….

    Perhaps when the time comes… I shall too learn to accept this and go on…

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  2. You write really well so it is a shame that you will discontinue your blog. My children are also ready to fly on their newly found wings, so I know the feeling. God has leased the children to us for 18 or more years and after that is their own life. I am grateful for the privilege of bringing them up and I know I don’t own them. In raising them, we too grew as adults and cut our umbilical cords. You both have done a commendable job of raising the kids. You have been a good role model for them.
    Love, Preeti.

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  3. And so life continues…..one is idealistic and optimistic in the growing up years ( what with all the moral stories of the ultimate triumph of good over evil to which one listened to with wide eyed wonder! ).
    Then one gets busy adjusting to the real world and all the googlies life throws at us. And then there are so many duties entwined with love that stake a claim on your priorities…..
    So now welcome to the freedom of the next phase of life where u make surprising discoveries about yourself and rediscover life.
    Children, like nothing else in the world, will continue to give you your happiest moments and any thing that hurts them gives u great unhappiness….. but their lives will be their own….
    You have been, as i know, a very diligent mother who has done a great job of raising two lovely kids who will do well out there in the big wide world.
    I have enjoyed your blog, esp. the pictures …. but when it is time to leave, you leave…. for newer experiences towards growth and wisdom. Love, uma

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