12.30 pm: Mumma gets a call from Melbourne. It’s my brother on the other line and he’s called to inform that he is coming home with family for vacation as school closes for summer break. It’s been two years since he last came with wife and kids. And after they’ve gone it would take time for mumma and dad to get back to their slow-moving rather simple and boring routine of having an empty nest because the fledglings have flown off. What they experience during this time is called the ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’.
Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of loneliness or sadness which a lot of parents go through when children grow up and leave home either to pursue their higher education, careers (most often parental aspirations) or settle down in another city or even country for that matter. Being married and settled in the same city where my parents live, I have seen them being lonely. Several occasions that have occurred in the past have inspired me to write down the joys and sorrows that parents go through when children pay visits or spend time with parents. Whatever best I could remember and recollect I have tried to jot it down here to make it interesting and enjoyable.
There are some things in life that are unavoidable and facing them is a challenge. But there are so many of us who live with it. Just as a bird lays eggs, waits until they hatch, nurtures them, teaches them to fly, pick for food and finally they emerge victorious when they set out for a journey by themselves leaving just the mother bird to herself. A time comes when we human beings too face this inevitable truth. The same law of nature prevails. Our children our born, they make us laugh, cry, giggle, make loads of memories, they struggle when growing, face competition and challenges and then gradually these little ones have to leave the nest and the parents have to face the ‘empty nest syndrome’.
As children leave home, sometimes seems like a melodrama, but parents hold back tears, they put on their best smiles and wave goodbyes bravely. The fledglings have winged away. Now it feels strange to have the remote in their hands, watch serials without protest or simply just have silence in the house because the idiot box is on temporary retirement. The house remains clean no toys, books, magazines, clothes are out of place, the dining area is clean and tidy as there is nobody to bring in packets of chips or cookies, wardrobes aren’t overflowing with clothes nor are there heaps of ceaseless laundry, refrigerator isn’t choked with coke bottles and the best part is minimal cooking, no challenging or exciting dishes to make. Phew…!!
But what about the vacuum that is created with the absence of the children. Little did anyone think of it? When these young ones flew away from the nest, they left us crushed. Disoriented and lonely, it took a whole lot of our time to digest and live with the fact that now the children will fend for themselves. And gradually parents start dwelling in a bland routine. And with this all their previous new year resolutions start taking shape, start with morning walks, lose weight, yoga, meditation, cut off sugar, salt, spice and the list is unending. It’s been quite some time that they’ve become sluggish.
Now a storm hits my mother’s household…!
Their arrival in itself was like a twister tearing apart the silence in the house. The unceasing banter is on, gifts are unloaded and love is overflowing in the air (even Valentines days would not have seen so much of love). There is debris of wrapping paper all over the house, there is a lifetime supply of toiletries, perfumes, bags and cosmetics despite a firm admonition to bring nothing (actually nothing means all of whatever is brought home). And it feels good to see them at the receiving end, a little role change is nice.
While it’s time to bathe in the warmth of their nearness, the daily routine has gone astray. The biological clock of the new generation acts bizarre. Afternoon is the new dawn. Mums been waking the kids since 8am and the beds remain unmade even until 11am. TV remote is a major battle all are fighting for. Breakfast is around lunchtime and energy levels of these nocturnal creatures builds up after twilight, just when it is time for everybody else to hit the sack. Every available plug point at home is replete with cell chargers, not to forget even the refrigerator was turned off for some time to accommodate a chargeable gaming console. The fridge is overburdened with leftovers as every day is special menu. Memories are recreated at visits to old joints and some new joints have to be explored. Clothes that were neatly ironed and kept away for special occasions are out, footwear is all around the place. Selfie sticks are at every corner and the cameras just don’t stop clicking. And whether you like it or not, you still pose for posterity, digitally. Our endless rounds of maniacal shopping makes us dizzy and our parents become familiar with the changing cityscape, having remained house bound for long. Neighbourhood is aware of the fact that the migratory birds are home with the endless noise and movements. And now with the storm that just hit mums house, all of it has gone for a toss, there is no morning walk, no yoga, and no time to attend phone calls let alone sugar levels, cholesterol seem to be spiked up. Cousins keep walking in and out and mum keeps walking in and out with tea and snacks.
Vacation is coming to an end, children have to go back. Suddenly everything seems to be going in slow pace. Checklists are prepared, things to be carried back are packed, no more shopping, children want to rest before they make their journey and now time just doesn’t seem to pass. Goodbyes, hugs and kisses are exchanged and children leave and once again there is a void. It takes a day or two to clean up the mess and a week or so later parents get back to their old sluggish routine.
We all live in a dynamic world. And our children too live in a chaotic world, they multi-task with deadlines both at work and family life. How do they manage with such ease..? Across the globe in a maze of hypertext, skype calls, video chatting we keep up a dialogue with them and probably this is what keeps the bond. Yes we are critical of their era, find it difficult to adjust to their way of living and prefer being a part of the nostalgia brigade, but moving with the times keeping our overpowering past at bay is what helps us being connected with them. Today we learn a lot from our children in this virtual world.