The mid-years of our lives center around our children, giving us a new purpose to life.
All our energies are focused on them from the moment they are born. We modify our routine to suit theirs, without even a whimper.
For someone who loved my uninterrupted eight hours of sleep at night, I would keep up for hours at night, walking my baby who would decide she needed my attention at unearthly hours.
The focus and purpose of our lives become our children. Suddenly we frequent kiddie parks, birthday parties, bowling alleys, and everything that our kids fancy, giving no importance to our own needs. Priorities change, we start taking interest in schools, and getting our child admitted to a school of our choice weighs heavily on our mind.
Once that has been achieved, we heave a sigh of relief and make it a point to attend all school events. We make an effort to make new friends, and befriend parents of our kid's classmates, irrespective of whether we are on the same wavelength.
Our world revolves around our children. Even preferences in food, clothes, movies, holidays are all impacted by our children and we become totally involved and selfless in the pursuit of their dreams.
As our children enter their adolescence, we realize the importance of making them less dependent and giving them the space they need or demand. This period is difficult as children tend to break free from our influence and lean more on their friends. However, keep talking to them and their teachers, to be aware of any abnormal behavior or worrisome conduct.
A sensible parent ensures that the family sits together at mealtimes and children continue communicating with you. Monitor their academic progress, and make sure they are following the routine set for them. They may drift awhile, keep things from you, but rest assured you still are their parents and they need you emotionally and financially.
Before one realizes it, the school years come to an end. As involved parents, our lives have revolved around our children and even though we don’t remember our own school days, every milestone our kids have achieved remains etched in memory.
Having devoted years looking after the kids, the anticipation of their leaving home causes us stress and anxiety. It is difficult to imagine not having them at home. However as a responsible parent, we hide our feelings and let them go, knowing that they have to tread their own path.
Suddenly we realize that over the years we have paid no attention to ourselves and have forgotten …
What were we like before we had our children?
What were our hobbies?
How did we spend our free time?
How to spend our money on ourselves?
What were our favorite dishes?
Suddenly we don’t have to do the things we hated most- no waking up early, making lunch boxes, getting our kids dressed, and gone on time. No more monitoring their activities, or study time, setting alarm clocks to wake them up to revise before exams.
We now realize how we have neglected our own needs. Looking after our children and fulfilling all their demands, doing the right things, we as parents, forget our own aspirations.
It is when the last of our kids leave, that we are left bereft and need to reinvent ourselves. There is a tendency to wallow in self-pity, as we are much older now and set in our ways. Also the silence, and having no kids to focus our attention on, hits us and makes us melancholy. We. miss the chitter-chatter of the kids, all their stories, friends and a constantly busy phone. And over the years as our kids have become our best friends, getting used to not having your confidantes around is also the most difficult part.
Some of us become empty nesters early in life and others a little later. The earlier, our kids leave us to pursue their dreams the lesser are we bound to suffer. If we are working, we immerse ourselves in work, taking on more responsibility, and putting in long hours as there is no hurry to return home.
Whilst bringing up their children, spouses forget to talk to each other. All their conversations, discussions, and activities have revolved around their children for too long.
One has to be positive and view this as an opportunity to relook at our own needs. Having devoted crucial years to our kids, it is time to do things that give us joy. If we want to focus on your job so be it, if we feel like traveling and opting for walking tours, playing golf, now is the time.
So don’t cling on to the thought that the kids have left. That is a reality, the earlier we accept the fact the sooner we will get back on track. Rejoice that your kids have left to follow their dreams. They don’t want you to be sad and lonely.
On the contrary look at this as the opportunity of a lifetime. Be happy and revel in the fact that finally, you are free of responsibilities, and now is the opportunity to live life the way you want with the satisfaction that you have fulfilled your responsibilities to the best of your ability.
And look ahead to their visits and calls with joy…