It hits you like a thunderbolt especially if you are not prepared for it, but the empty-nest syndrome is a harsh reality that is also a blessing in disguise, writes NJOKI CHEGE
Women are wired to be nurturers, caregivers and sometimes ‘referees’ when it comes to parenting and motherhood. So it is expected that you feel depressed, irrelevant and inadequate when time comes for your children to leave the nest either for college or to start life on their own.
For some, simply driving past a school or football game would make them weep when they officially became empty nesters.
Jennifer Karina, a motivational speaker, author and mother of three wasn’t surprised by her grief — the sense of deep loss and the resonating silence in the house — when her youngest daughter left for college abroad.
“It hit me like a thunderbolt when my last daughter left to study abroad. I then realised I needed to engage myself both physically and intellectually to rid myself of the loneliness that followed,” says Jennifer.
The good news is, the emptiness is not only survivable, but beneficial and important also. The secret lies in one thing; and that is preparedness.
Empty-nest syndrome is the name given to a psychological condition that can affect parents (most commonly women) around the time their children leave home. If not well prepared, it is tantamount to wreck havoc in an otherwise normal household.
Dr Gladys Mwiti, a clinical psychologist and CEO of Oasis Africa Counselling Centre reckons that the empty-nest syndrome is a reality all women have to deal with at some point in their lives.
“It is a reality, when you realise ‘Ooops! My babies are gone!’ because in essence, we raise our children to grow up, move out and face the world fearlessly,” she notes.
Dr Mwiti also notes that the empty-nest syndrome serves as a litmus test to the stability and stamina of your marriage. It goes without saying that a vacuum will definitely develop in your marriage if you grew apart as a couple while raising your children.
“If the children filled a gap between a couple, then there is bound to be a vacuum once the children leave the house. Therefore, you have to first ensure that your marriage remains intact, even when the children are still around,” she stresses.