BY DR PREETI TALWAR
The mother and child relationship is paradoxical and in a sense tragic. It requires intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother and become fully independent. There are two times when parenting is the most difficult. When the baby first arrives at home and when the adult just leaves home.
I recalled the time of my first pregnancy, the minute I knew I had conceived. I was on cloud nine. The first sonography was memorable, I heard my baby’s heart beat and I was thrilled. From then on, I knew I was never alone, the kicks, the movements reminded me of the seed growing inside me.
Pregnancy has its ups and downs, physical and mental problems too, but one waits expectantly for the nine months to end, to see the new life you have brought into this world. Due to complications I had to undergo a cesarean and soon I was handed the little cherub, my son.
Motherhood came naturally on seeing my flesh and blood and soon I was rearing him with love. Always overprotective, fending him from all problems, encouraging him, teaching him and holding him close to my heart.
His arms around my neck were the most precious jewels I could have, and I loathed anyone trying to eye him.
Soon my toddler turned to a teen and procured admission in a different city for his higher studies. Relocating for college to a different city was a blow for me, I could not come to terms with it.
There is no stronger love in the world than the love of a parent for their child. One of the hardest, most bitter sweet things a parent must do is to wave goodbye to the child as he goes to college. This was troubling me day and night, I shopped, packed, gave him umpteen pieces of advice until that day came for him to go.
I went to the station to bid au revoir. This was the first time he was leaving home. He was in high spirits, ready to face the world but tears were welling in my eyes. At last as the train clacketed out of the station and he waved to me, tears flowed like a tap burst. For me that day was like a part of me had been cut off.
I worried thinking whether he too might be homesick and called him after every half an hour and then the bomb was dropped on me, when he asked me to stop calling him and treating him like a little babe. He felt grown up amongst his buddies and felt the mother calling cramped his personality. He didn’t want to be mollycoddled. He hated being called a ‘mamma’s poppet’ amidst his peers.
I was taken aback, at how quickly he had grown and didn’t need his mother, his cool behaviour ruffled me. I worried whether he would settle down, but I was wrong, he had adapted to hostel life as a fish takes to water.
I was getting sleepless nights worrying whether he would be OK, but he was in his own world. He’d settled well and enjoyed his new-found independence. I could do nothing except change my thinking and give him wings to fly.
So, after moping for two months, I decided to get over this depressive syndrome. He was busy gadding around the university and enjoying life to the fullest, while I was feeling morose and unable to live life. I had to take the bull by the horns and not let unhappiness fester within me or it would lead to depression.
I decided to enrol for a creative writing course and brushed up on my understanding of technology. I felt better and confident as soon as I started the course.
Since the kids had been small and having no help I had taken a break in my career. Now I knew was the right time to restart and I surfed the net for work from home jobs.
I was fortunate to get a proofreading job with a reputed publishing house. So, I could work from home. I started enjoying myself and soon I started on a journey of rediscovering myself.
Passionate about writing since my school days, I started writing for various sites. My confidence elevated with positive feedback and published articles. Being on social media, I managed to reconnect with my schoolmates and now got a chance to meet my old friends after several years.
Reading, writing, socialising helped me massively through this period and I started living for myself and enjoying ME time.
My advice for first time empty nesters is to let go, give the child both roots and wings and use your life productively.
Dr. Preeti Talwar is a science doctorate, proofreader and freelance writer from India. Her writing has been published for Chicken Soup Series, Thrive Global, Bonobology, Women’s Web, YourStory.Com, Readers Digest, Woman’s Era, Hitovad, Hindustan Times, Planet Spark, NewsnViews.online and many more.