‘I know my baby will be fine as she finds her way to make a new life for herself,’ notes Aarti David.
Every parent goes through the empty nest phase (syndrome) as their kids grow up and find their bearings and fly out. And yet it has to be one of the hardest things a parent has to go through.
All logic seems to fade away when you know it will be days, weeks, months even, before you will set your eyes on your young one again.
All the fights and annoyances suddenly start to seem so trivial in light of this huge life change.
Technology has made things easier and you know you can FaceTime or do a WhatsApp video call or Skype, but you know it’s just not the same anymore.
Life will never be the same again. Different time zones don’t make it any easier either.
Once your kid leaves home to study, you know it’s the beginning of a new way of being, a new way of living.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. So many others have been through this and will continue to feel similarly too. But I also know that every parent child equation is not the same.
Me and my daughter have been like two friends/siblings even.
Bickering over small things, getting upset with each other, not speaking, waiting for the other to make up, sharing clothes, secrets, a lot of laughs and a lot of tears too.
I’ve tried to be there with her, for every milestone whilst dealing with the perpetual guilt of every working mom.
Always wondering if I have done enough and whether I have made the right decisions that impacted her and me both. And she’s been there for me like a pillar too, my ever-smiling, innocent babe, encouraging me to do my best.
As I accompanied her this time, I realized that she doesn’t come back home with me. I had to leave her behind. Her eyes told me I should stay, my heart did too. And I really wished I could prolong the day to be with her, to help her settle in till she felt better.
As the mother in me constantly worried if my offspring will be able to manage so far away from home — will she eat well, will she take care of a million other things besides focussing on her academics.
Things she took for granted previously and I did too. Managing a bank account, a credit card, paying the bills, setting up her Wi-Fi, grocery shopping, cooking, doing the laundry, washing up, moving homes.
A lot to handle if you’ve never been away from home previously — I realised all this is part of growing up and I had to cut the umbilical cord to let her find her way.
I can’t hang around to fix things for her. She doesn’t need a fixer. She needs a cheerleader to cheer her on as she embarks into this new life.
As parents we want what’s best for our kids. We give them the best upbringing we can, give them good values to live by and create a safe haven for them so they feel protected always.
Why then does it become so difficult to let them go?
Don’t we believe in our own selves or how we brought them up, to allow them to spread out their wings?
Why then do we feel so uncertain and tentative and want them to constantly need us?
Khalil Gibran has very beautifully captured the relationship between parents and children:
Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls’ dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.
Our protective instincts make us overprotective, sometimes overcautious and perhaps overbearing as a result sometimes.
It happens at a subconscious level as we run on auto pilot when it concerns our children most times. And we start viewing every action of our children as an act of rebellion or pushing us away.
Perhaps it is our own insecurity stemming from the knowledge that they no longer need us the way they did when they were little.
Growing up and growing out are natural processes and nothing should come in the way of what is meant to flow.
I have been observing myself in the past few days and consciously trying to step back and let go, so she finds the space to be herself.
It isn’t easy at all, and as much as I feel vulnerable at this bitter sweet situation I find myself in.
There are so many questions buzzing in my head at all times of the day and night as I keep wondering about her well-being, how her day has been, whether she had a good day or if she is feeling homesick.
But the quintessential question that lurks in the background. Does she miss me as much as I miss her?
Even though my nest is now empty, my heart is full. I know my baby will be fine as she finds her way to make a new life for herself.
And I’ll always be there by her side in spirit when not in person.
Learning to trust her to make the best decisions for her life and to always have her back despite all my apprehensions and concerns which come naturally to me as a mom.
Elizabeth Stone wrote something that is applicable to all parents ‘Making the decision to have a child — it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.’
As does my heart, live outside of me, in another continent…
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com
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