Empty Nest Syndrome: A Preview

familyIt was dinner time. Only Butch and I sat by the dinner table. “We’re alone.” My husband sighed. “This is a preview of our empty nest” . My two daughters moved in to their dormitory yesterday. Of course, they will be home during the weekends or on wednesday for my daughter studying in UP. It seems my husband is more emotional than me when it comes to the children . Like I wrote in a previous entry, Butch is my co-homemaker and acts more motherly than me sometimes. Well, I teased “we need to live together in harmony now that we’re alone most of the time.“. He nodded “We have all the time to be ourselves but it’s lonely without the children“. He continued to mope. What we felt is normal. We’ve heard of empty nest syndrome as college students when we left our parents for dorm living. We both came from large families and the empty nest didn’t occur overnight. We had no idea what it was like until both of our children left for semi-independent dorm living. After reading my daughter’s declaration of semi-independent living, I wonder how my husband will take it after she leaves us after graduation. So what is empty nest syndrome?

Empty nest syndrome refers to the grief that many parents feel when their children move out of home. This condition is typically more common in women, who are more likely to have had the role of primary career. Unlike the grief experienced when (for example) a loved one dies, the grief of empty nest syndrome often goes unrecognised, because an adult child moving out of home is seen as a normal, healthy event. Upset parents may find few sources of support or sympathy. In many cases, [tag]empty nest syndrome[/tag] is compounded by other difficult life events or significant changes happening around the same time, such as retirement or menopause. Source

Three years ago, Lauren as a freshman moved in to her dormitory. That’s when the impact of the empty nest hit me the hardest. Although my second daughter was around, this was the first time a child left for long periods of time. It was a momentary grief. Lauren chose to live with us during her second and third year college term but now as a senior, thesis and more responsibilities in extra-curricular activities makes dorm living very convenient.

In 2003, my online business just started to pick up. During their teen years, I was a full-time homemaker. My life revolved around the girls and my husband. The death of my son turned me into a social hermit. I preferred to be at home most of the time. The realization that the children were not always going to live with me depressed me for a few weeks. It was also three years ago that my turbulent marital life hit its peak. Perhaps marital stress contributed to this life changing event and added to my grief. I think this is one of the reasons that I finally woke up from my hidden grief over Luijoe’s death and started taking care of myself.

My husband is still trying to cope with this temporary empty nest syndrome. During those lost years, he only thought of himself and didn’t really mind the 2 girls. With grief recovery , he is now a better father to the girls.

He kept anxiously asking me last night , “how are they? do you see them online?” I said, “if you want to know, text them. They’ll only be glad to hear from you.”

Empty nest syndrome can afflict both fathers and mothers. Butch is feeling it only now. I know I have dedicated more than 20 years in rearing the girls. I have always viewed motherhood as my primary role. (This is true even for most working mothers.) I just feel sometimes that my most important job is finished. At first, I felt worthless, disoriented and unsure of what meaning my future held. Fortunately I had my preview of the empty nest in 2003 and I was able to adapt to the successful transition from ‘mama’ to independent woman.

Today I am a better person. With a thriving online business, a loving husband and a mission and future ministries to come , my future doesn’t seem bleak with an empty nest.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1346 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.


About Noemi Lardizabal-Dado

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

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  • Emily

    I also came from a large family. And when my siblings went to college , the high school kids stayed behind. It must have been hard for my dad when we all left but I guess he started to get used to it.

  • Olga

    We live in the province. I guess when the time comes, my daughter will attend a university in Manila. I wonder if I can cope with that. I worry too much for her safety. Leaving her in school as she entered first grade is very stressful as it is. I even demanded that one of the teachers should accompany her if she has to go to the restroom as there are bigger kids in that section of their school already. I kept hovering outside their classroom, school authorities posted signs politely asking parents, etc. to refrain from doing so. No need to guess to whom that is specifically addressed to. I know my protectiveness over Abby has gone on overdrive since I lost my baby.

    Reading about your experience is giving me a glimpse of what is in store for me and my husband in the years to come.

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    Emily: Now I know how my dad felt when I said I preferred to stay in Manila after graduation.

    Olga: Leave future worries for now. Just continue to love your daughter the best way you can. Mothers are by nature overprotective. Trust your instincts.

  • http://www.kurokuroatbp.wordpress.com Toe

    I think my parents cured their empty nest syndrome when they had… grandchildren! 🙂 Enjoy your being an independent woman Noemi!

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    Toe: that’s right. The grandchildren. I would be delighted to have them in say 5 years ? Not anytime soon okay?

  • http://www.midlifemama.net Cathy

    Hey Noems, you’re entering a new phase. It can be sad at times but I know there are other things for you to do at this point in the journey. Same with Butch. I don’t know how I would deal with the empty nest. Just the other day I was thinking that in six years P will be graduating from college. I hope she goes to Medical school so that we can have her with us longer. At buti na lang may Grade two pa kami!

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    Cathy: yes a new phase in parenting. I was actually thinking of you wnen I blogged this. You won’t have an empty nest for a long time.