My younger sister and her husband are experiencing empty nest this summer. Their oldest has started university in
We are a step ahead of them as our three girls all have a life on their own now. We raised our girls to be godly, responsible and make good choices in life. They are doing just that so I cannot be sad, right? But is it still lonely? At times, to be honest yes. But skype and MSN are huge helps. On the other hand it is also a great time of life. The living room stays tidy; my husband and I don’t need to go out to date or talk; no fight for the TV remote…. But I remember my mom used to say when we were all gone from home for boarding school- the Silence is deafening! I know what she means!
One motto we live by: Distance doesn’t separate us, silence does. So we keep chatting, keep calling, and visit as often as our overseas lifestyle can manage. But once a parent always a parent…. I just received this as I was thinking about the empty nest syndrome- kinda fits- and how true!
Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, "It's their life," and feel nothing?
When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my son's head. I asked, "When do you stop worrying?" The nurse said, "When they get out of the accident stage." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.
When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class, and was headed for a career making license plates. As if to read my mind , a teacher said, "Don't worry, they all go through this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.
When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, "They're trying to find themselves. Don't worry, in a few years, you can stop worrying. They'll be adults." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.
By the time I was 50, I was sick & tired of being vulnerable. I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle. There was nothing I could do about it. My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing. I continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments.
My friends said that when my kids got married I could stop worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that, but I was haunted by my mother's warm smile and her occasional, "You look pale. Are you a all right? Call me the minute you get home. Are you depressed about something?"
Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the FAMILY: Is concern a curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life?
One of my children became quite irritable recently, saying to me, "Where were you? I've been calling for 3 days, and no one answered I was worried." I smiled a warm smile. The torch has been passed.