There have been a lot of things written recently about the empty nest syndrome. Some agree, some disagree. You may have read them.
I make no bones about being happy and sad when September comes.
This time last year I was stuck in hospital for the first time in my life (bar childbirth) and forced to wear unsuitable and unflattering clothing.
That in itself knocked the ’empty nest syndrome’ that September can bring into a tin hat.
You can’t wear inappropriate clothing and be lonely at the same time. Especially when that clothing is hospital socks and flip-flops.
That September Feeling
I use the term ’empty nest’ loosely to refer to the week in September when our offspring go off to do their thing.
I’ve got a foot in several camps on this one. There isn’t a right way to be.
On the one hand, I can’t wait to get back to working on the blog and doing my thing. Being off for the school holidays has made me realise how much time is needed to get it to where I want it to be. At this stage of my journey that is full time at the very minimum (and some).
Being away from Wi-Fi for almost half the holiday has had a big effect on the performance and I haven’t yet been able to take full advantage of my new site and do the things I need to do around security and functionality. They are urgent.
I don’t take Wi-Fi for granted but it has certainly been a battle without it. Actually that’s a total lie. Of course I take it for granted now. Who doesn’t!
And on the other hand, we have had the best of times. We always do. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the holidays and having The Kid.
Summer Holidays Aren’t Always Hearts & Flowers but …..
Don’t get me wrong, I have wished myself away to a Desert Island on more than one occasion. It hasn’t been all hearts and flowers. Parenting isn’t like that is it?! There have been moods, storms, tears, dust-ups and frustration but we have had a great old time too.
I have always found September and endings difficult since having children. I can be a bit of a drip at times!
If I wasn’t working, it felt as though everyone has gone off to do their thing except me. The house was empty and I was on my tod until I got into my stride.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only parent that dreaded the start of nursery and school. We are human. No matter how much they drive us crazy and we can’t wait to get their little legs into a uniform, there is always that wrench.
I always feel for every parent or carer that is sending their child off to new beginnings at this time of year because whilst it is a very positive time and the next step of their very exciting journey, it is also a time that can feel like a huge void. Irrespective of their age.
I include grandparents in this too. For those that have cared for their grandchildren, the feeling is just the same. Why wouldn’t it be? Very easy to overlook the grandparents here. Mind you if they’ve got any sense, they’ll be having a knees up too!
We can, after all, become a little bit in the shadow of our children and often forget who we are when they are younger.
(Cue cheesy photo and a Slimming World appointment!)
Because it feels like …
If you leave it too long, when you try and tap into yourself, there is no one in.
Rest assured that this is perfectly normal and it passes! You’ll be back! With a vengeance!
Not all of us have had circumstances where we can easily walk back into a job post children and if we have, it may not be right for us anymore. Or we not right for them.
Some of us may have to work tirelessly and endlessly in a job that we hate just to make ends meet.
If we have our own business, there is that ‘feeling’ of ‘what on earth am I doing?’ running through our minds as we rattle around the house after everyone has left.
Some of us love to work and the thought of being home fills us with dread. I love to work but it’s also lovely to have time to just ‘be’ too.
Some of us may fall foul of the system and be unable to afford childcare or is just isn’t cost effective. That’s always a tough one.
Or we may have lost our sense of identity and are afraid about the change that lies ahead; we are terrified that we aren’t good enough for the job we would like to do.
Thank god that passes too! And you end up realising just how good you really are! Better than you’ve ever been.
Equally, we may just be working so we can have the luxuries it affords. Nothing wrong with that either.
And then there is the option of one parent being at home allowing their partner their career of choice unhindered. Or we are doing the whole lot single-handedly and the buck stops with us.
Then there are the many full-time carers who deserve a medal – every single day of their lives.
There isn’t a one size fits all with parenting and how we choose to do it, is there?
And if you are taking advantage of redundancy or a well-earned career break or even retirement. Bring it on I say. You’ve earned it. Take no notice of the ‘ooh, what will you do all day’ comments. There is always so much to do, you’ll have trouble fitting it all in.
And it’s worth remembering this ……….
if we ever think about judging someone or they us.
There are always many sides to the stories that we think we can read and judge.
And they are not always cut and dried. Black and white tends to be the preserve of old movies.
If someone judges you, then the likelihood is that they aren’t that happy with their own lot.
There are no winners ……….
I’ve been judged and called the most degrading things when I’ve not been working and when I have it’s wrong to put my daughter in childcare.
I’m sure if there was a third thing I would have been that too! I’m adaptable like that. It’s really easy when others can tell you how you ‘should’ be living your life.
It saves you having to make your own decisions and keeps you in line with the expectations on ‘how to do things the same way that everyone else does’ And not be too different.
You are probably nodding along to at least one of these.
But know that you will never be judged by someone who is happy with their own circumstances or tuned into yours. Male or female. They will be too busy enjoying life to care. Or helping you on your journey. And you on theirs.
It can be a hugely challenging time when the kids go off and one where we can quite often feel very alone whatever our circumstances.
Fast forward a few years and I crave that feeling, I love the holidays and I love when they come to an end too. You will see me doing the chicken dance next Monday morning (unless it’s a plait day!).
I love the positivity and possibility that each school year brings as well as the poignancy of everything that has passed.
This is our last year of primary school. It will be the end of an era. Memories will continue to be made and there will be tears at the end of the year. Guaranteed.
And next week there will be parents all around the country with differing circumstances at the start of this term, new schools, first days, first times away from home. All equally poignant.
It is only when we are secure with all that we have that we can embrace these changes.
Not everyone is there yet.
So whatever your circumstances at the beginning of September, do them with pride.
Whether you are running for a train, starting a new job, embarking on a new career, putting out the flags, crying into a tissue, meeting your mates for coffee or changing the beds – don’t let anyone do you down.
We can all be brilliant, we are all important and our value is as high as we want it to be.
Here’s to September 2016 and all this school and adult year may bring.
I think we can all strut our lady or man thing and own our choices or circumstances with pride.
We have all been the other person at some point in our lives. Let’s allow each other the journey too.
Any writer will know that divisive opinion makes headlines.
But it doesn’t mean we have to become the leading lady or man that is portrayed.
It’s OK to have a full and empty nest. It’s OK to be sad to wave your kids off and it’s also OK to do a little dance as soon as they are out of sight.
A chicken dance though if you must!
It’s OK to do whatever makes us happy. All day long.