Empty Nests or Out on a Limb

Most nests are tucked into branches reinforced with twigs and constructed with love, threads, blades of grass and found bits of ribbon and string.  When the structures are no longer housing progeny, mother and father birds find themselves hanging out on a limb with spare energies, once directed further down the limb,  swirling around them.  Eddies of awareness and updrafts of familiarity shape the air.

Now that a metaphor has been constructed we can begin to attach words and sentiments to it.  

There is something called empty nest syndrome, and like those swirling winds mentioned above, it is amorphous and our attempt to label it is an attempt to control it.  I’m a very firm believer in the notion that control is a total illusion. For me, someone who has spent a huge amount of time studying how humans organize themselves, I believe processes are far more important than specific behaviors that we have boxed up into neatly stacked terms and definitions.  Processes drip through unsealed seams and corners, creep out of from under loosely positioned lids, and even disperse like a gas through porous sides of a container.

Empty nest syndrome is described as the sadness, lack of purpose, fear, depression, and loss of interest that many parents experience when children leave home to make their way in the world.   From what I can tell from my research, the person most often experiencing one or more of these symptoms is female and middle aged.  I do not doubt this condition exists.  I do however wonder why it exists.  An empty nest usually signifies success in the first several stages of parenting before it evolves into grandparenting.  What’s so bad about that?

I clarify and direct my thoughts in times of “now whatness” by looking back to note the things I have stopped doing during the years I was intensively parenting.

I can be selfish!   I.  I.  I.  Me. Me.  Mine.  MY time.  My Goddess, I have a wonderful prospect of many more productive and healthy years.  I can stir the pot in so many ways.

I can raise hell with politicians that are thinking short term rather than long term. 
I can read the books I’ve wanted to, but had to put aside because of lack of time over the years.
I can learn to be calm and slow down the hectic pace of life.  Breathe.
I can make dinner or not.  (The hubby is a big grown up guy and can take care of himself.)
I can start a business.
I can do things for others (volunteer) or take a break from care-giving.
I can just follow my whims and enjoy the moment.

Now for the boogieman of the empty nest…. dealing with the strange bird who is in your living room every night with the remote in his hand.   When you research empty nest syndrome associated with couples rather than an individual the word divorce comes up again and again.  But that is for another day.

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