What does one do when they have Empty Nest Syndrome? They refill the nest. Healthy? Depends….
Depends on what you refill your nest with. I have tried chocolate, sugar of all kinds, toxic relationships, all leaving me feeling still empty. My new solution to the empty nest created by my five children growing up and leaving home is to focus on what makes me happy and what I need to do to enjoy my nest, even if I am the only human occupying it now.
It is common for women, possibly men also, to feel empty when their last child “flies away” and instead of feeling achievement and experiencing a “successful launching” the parent feels empty and alone, possibly for the first time since the birth of the first child. I have five children, all wonderful blessings in my life, and all successful adults pursuing their own dreams. When the first four left, I still had one more to keep me feeling like I was still a mom and “doing my job.” I became a mom at age twenty one so it was my primary identity. I still had to teach the youngest how to drive, how to get ready to graduate from High School, and how to cook and clean in case he needed those skills on the “outside.”
After the youngest flew the coop a few years ago, I told myself I was not going to feel empty, but my choices and behavior proved otherwise. I purchased a new car, that was quite a bit over my budget. It was fun to drive and I enjoyed owning it, but the car did not fill the emptiness. I became fast friends with a coworker who was not a healthy relationship for me, but this new relationship kept me busy and filled my time with the extremes of having great fun, or arguing and fighting until I was sure we would never talk again……then repeat. I filled my kitchen with snacks; chocolate, or any sweet treat that invited me to purchase it. It is a bargain, after all, if it is on sale, never mind the calorie count, I told myself.
I have learned a few things since those days. I am making my own decisions but first asking myself a few questions. Is it healthy for me? Is this something I want for the long run, say in retirement years? Will I feel proud of myself, or satisfied with my choice? I am no longer worrying about what my parents -in- my- head would say, or what judgments my children will make about my choices. Life is long, yet it is short. Choose wisely now, and be happy with my choices, is my new motto.
This brings me to my newest “nest filler”. I have a new baby, an African Grey parrot, age ten months. I have wanted this bird for many years, and if not now, when? Sort of a bucket list item. I am happy with this decision, it was made by me, for me, and with my money. Hopefully it is a healthy decision, and at least I can’t gain weight on it!
Suggestions for a name? I do not know if it is a boy or girl.