IT IS WARM and beautiful in Atlanta this time of year. It is still the height of summer and the days are long. The skies are a bright blue, and in the evening, it cools down and a refreshing breeze kicks up.
I will be home in September. Pity, I will miss the changing colors of fall, my favorite season.
But while I am here, I will relish the love and warmth of my Georgia family—chatting, laughing, remembering and making memories as we go along.
It does not seem that long ago when, on one of my visits here, I was invited to a Grandparent’s Day celebration. I sat in a place of honor with my sister and her grandchildren at Creme de la Creme, an exclusive state-of-the-art nursery school nestled among the trees in Norcross.
The children who showed off their artwork and talent for us that day were four- and five-years-olds. Today they are in college. How did that happen?
Miles is 20, a handsome young sophomore in a college in Athens, Georgia. His sister Christina finished high school in June this year, earned an art scholarship, and is enrolled in a private college just a two-hour drive away.
We had a delicious pasta dinner at their elegant custom-built home in Duluth the other night. All were in a celebratory mood. Her parents (she is my godchild) were understandably proud. And as preparations were discussed and dorms described, it dawned on me that soon, this beautiful home would become an empty nest.
Suddenly I realized that the feverish preparations for the son last year could not have been as daunting as today getting their daughter ready, knowing that soon, both kids would no longer live at home.
Isn’t it ironic that as much as parents strive, skimp and save to send their children to a proper college, to see that they are able (and hopefully willing) to pursue higher academic achievement, the sacrifice they make brings pride, but with it comes the sadness of no longer having their children around.
Some have described “empty nest syndrome” as a feeling of abandonment and unbearable pain when the time of togetherness of parents and their children comes to an end. It is difficult to detach.
I hear that mothers feel it in a deeper way; that the trauma is sharper, more pronounced. While this may be true, it hardly seems fair to the fathers who may not just be as openly emotional.
What is empty nest syndrome?
The Free Encyclopedia explains: “It is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents or guardians may feel when their children leave home for the first time, such as to live on their own. It is not a clinical condition.”
What are the symptoms? For one there is depression; a sense of having no purpose in life; sometimes there is a feeling of betrayal and rejection. There is anxiety. Parents ask themselves if they have prepared the children well enough to face life outside the home.
Oprah Winfrey offers her own description. She says: “Confronting an empty nest requires enormous reorganization, only it’s not files or an office you are trying to rearrange, but the very architecture of your life, your identity and your connection with someone you love.”
I had to pause after reading Oprah’s version. Her picture has very familiar undertones.
What can one do to fight the fear that nothing will ever be right again? Someone suggests you should fill up your life before the emptiness sets in. Parents are advised to take their relationship to another level, to treat it as a connection between two adults.
To lessen anxiety it may be the perfect time to give a crash survival course, so you don’t spend sleepless nights wondering if your child will live through the night without you.
A sudden thought: do children who leave home for college ever worry about how their parents will live without them? I have my doubts.
Watching television a whole world away from my favorite teleseryes is a rude reminder that I am not home.
Except that it is done in English, the newscast here is handled pretty much like back home, where anchorpersons sometimes act like judge and jury. They have that familiar, annoying “know it all” air.
During the Ukraine crisis and the downing of the Malaysian plane, some newscasters taunted and practically dared US President Obama to take a more aggressive stance in denouncing whoever was behind the horrendous incident. We saw a beleaguered (now greying) Obama trying to use diplomacy and caution to address the issue, careful not to lay blame too squarely on anyone while condemning the act in no uncertain terms.
How hard it must be to play it brave but careful, decisive and yet leave enough wiggle room to backtrack on words that may prove incendiary. It is the art of doublespeak.
It makes me wonder, for the umpteenth time in my life, why anyone in his right mind would want to be president. It is not the easiest job in the world.
By the way, I caught PNoy’s fifth SONA.
I was touched. I agree. It was his best. I like it when someone important and powerful shows heart. And PNoy did, big time!