Today, I got a call from one of my old college friends. Her son had finished his schooling and they were looking at college applications and entrance exam scores for the past one month. They had finally zeroed-in on one particular college that was out of state and last week they helped him settle in the college of his choice. So after a few pleasantries she started talking nostalgically about how she misses her son terribly and how everything in the house reminds her of his absence. Though miles apart, I could feel her pain and completely empathise with the empty nest syndrome she was experiencing.
Leaving her only son at the college of his choice located in another state and coming back to an empty house was not something easy to handle. Though she was mentally well prepared to face this situation it was quite difficult to come to terms with it when it eventually happened. She was recalling all the times when she had walked into her son’s messy room and reprimanded him to clean it; only now it is all clean and all very empty, drowning her in sadness. We talked for hours sharing anecdotes about our kids and laughing at all the trouble they put us through. After sharing a good laugh and a few ideas to keep her occupied and engaged productively, I started pondering over this empty nest syndrome.
Because, my friends, I realised that we get just 17 years at the most with our kids living under the same roof with us. The chat with my friend just made that realisation sink in because though I know it will happen it is easy to get lost in the mundane-ness and lose sight of the big picture.
Today while coming back home after a long day, I see the usual sight out in the hallway. Something that infuriates me every time I see it; the shoes outside my door clumsily strewn across everywhere except where they are supposed to be – in the shoe rack; and quite obviously it makes me mad. Because hello, that’s why we bought a nice looking shoe rack for! But no, every day for the past, I don’t know 15 years or so, I have been the one picking them up fussing and fuming because no matter what I tried I could not make the others in my family to get to do this simple task. And then, today, I look at them, there they are again, all over the place. But here’s the crazy thing, I didn’t get mad this time. I start looking at them with a new found love. I know it sounds weird but yes, I loved looking at the shoes strewn across the hallway.
I read somewhere that we just get 17 summers with our kids and I suddenly realised that I am on the 16th one with my elder one. Where did all the wonderful summers go? How did they pass so quickly? I always thought I would be ready for it when it happens…But no!
And I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sadness at the sight of those shoes strewn across the hallway. I know I will have my younger one to keep me company but it takes more than one to mess it up the way it is now.
Now that I am writing this it reminds me of something else that happened. Just yesterday, everything was going on peacefully as per plan; I was in my son’s room going through his homework when my elder one prances in and as always casually throws in a comment on how bad his handwriting is …and that’s how it started. Let’s just say there was some shouting, fighting and a cane chair flying in the air, among other things.
Why am I saying this? …Because, though it was a frustrating couple of minutes at that point of time, I sat pondering when things became calmer. Though it is difficult to sit back and enjoy minor sibling rivalry when you are in the thick of things, I still wonder how much I will be missing these silly fights in the years to come with my elder one off to college. Just thinking about it makes my heart ache…
This routine of receiving them when they get back from school, watching their favourite shows with them and spending an hour doing things with each of them, will eventually change.
The routine that I take for granted…
The mess that I take for granted…
The silly fights that I take for granted…
The Friday meal planning, the Sunday outings, the sibling rivalry, the family discussions, the vacation planning, restaurant hunting, cooking together, movie nights, the lazing around doing nothing…and so much more in between.
Until then, I would like to immerse myself in the joy of this togetherness – mostly beautiful, at times messy togetherness!
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41 thoughts on “17 summers…”
When I moved out of home at 18, I was excited about the new life and never thought of my parents. This post made me realize how my parents would have felt.
I know right! No wonder they say, only after you become a parent that you realize your parents heartache…Thank you so much for taking the time out to share your thoughts. Means a lot to know my post resonated with you.
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What a delightful post, Kalpana! Seeing the joy in the messy moments is what keeps parents going, for, despite the upheavals that children cause, there comes a time when they will be missed because they are living their own lives.
Thank you so much for those kind words. I am so glad you liked it. And it is So True Deepti…You said it! No matter what, we are going to miss them when they are out chasing their dreams…So we better look beyond the mess and look at the wonderful memories we create with them.
So well said, Kalpana! May their dreams come true and leave them happy!
Thank you so much Deepti. That’s the wish of every parent…
Your thoughts are so heart warming. I am so happy that I read it. It contains so much more wisdom than a parenting blog. Amazingly written.
We moms loose so much of precious time taking care of nitty gritties. Instead start cherishing your limited number of years with your kids.
That is so very generous and kind of you to say that Jaya. I am so glad we connected. We do get so bogged down by some very petty, nitty-gritty stuff (as you rightly put it) that we lose perspective of the bigger picture. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with me. Means a lot!
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Oh yes, Kalpana…enjoy it all now! I know how you must feel. Hugs to you!! <3
Yes Natasha…Trying my best to slow down and enjoy the phase. Thank you so much!
This got me emotional thinking of the times ahead. Well done.
Thank you so much Tina. Its heartening to know you connected with my post and thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. It is a harsh reality… Yes.
That was straight from the heart to the heart Kalpana. I am sure to look at the mess that my kids will create when they get back from school today in a different light. Hope they don’t ask me “what happened to you mom. Hope all is well. ” 🙂
And a reminder of 17 summers was a very good way of telling how little time we have…with them..
Thank you Deepa. I am so glad my post resonated with you. And yeah funnily enough another friend of mine experienced just that ( after a heated discussion with her son she mellowed down quickly as she read my post and her son threw a quizzical look and asked her if she was feeling okay) kids…they know us so well. But yeah… I know what you mean. It’s a reminder all right… And so glad to have connected with you through this post.
🙂 Thank you for the timely reminder Kalpana.
My pleasure Deepa. It’s nice to have connected on a common thought.
We grow with our children and then children must grow without us. Kudos to you for seeing the beauty in messy moments!
Yes so true… Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts…i am trying my best to see the beauty in the mess.
Just trying one more time – unfortunately, I didn’t save a copy of my comment, and can’t reconstruct it now. But do enjoy them while they’re young – the time passes quickly. And remember your own parents. Pick up the phone, go visit… follow the Golden Rule, eh?
Absolutely Holly. I hear ya… I had written a post on the same lines for my parents too… I am just so happy you could post your comment here after some struggle. I completely understand the frustration of constructing a thoughtful reply and then not able to post it… Ughhh… And for that your comment is very special to me. Thank you so much ❤️❤️
Very true. Need to cherish these times with our kids and hopefully reconnect with our own childhood friends too!
Yes Prerna. Very true. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. Appreciate it.
Very well written ! I think it is a part of life for us and a part of growing up for our children. We will be proud of them when they become totally independent and confident. So this leaving the nest is necessary for them, though heart breaking for us as parents! Hope to see many more of your write ups!
Thank you so much Radha mam. I know coming from you, its a sound advice…because you speak from experience. I know this is essential for them, yes I do. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. Really helps and means so much!
Kalpana, I hear you… very clearly. Coz everything you said resonated with me. Felt as if you had poured my heart out. Believe its because I’m sailing in the same boat as yours and another year, my elder one will fly out of the nest. As you mentioned, I’m enjoying the phase and living every moment, contemplating the parting in future.
Straight from heart post!
Thank you so much Anagha. It’s heartening to know my post resonated with you and to know I have someone with me, sailing in the exact same boat (so to speak). Thank you for reading and reaching out to me. It really helped. So glad to have connected with you.
So many of my friends have been through the college empty nest time. It can be a sad time but (believe it or not) many come to enjoy that empty nest after the initial shock. But yes, enjoy that last year. It will go by way too quickly.
Thank you so much for reading and sharing your views on this. Really helps to know that it gets better. Thanks for sharing your friends experiences. I will have my younger one for company though… Hope I sail through cherishing this year well.
It sure helps to be conscious that the time we are given with our children is not limitless, and it too has an expiration date. So we must make the most of it while we can. 🙂
Oh I totally agree with you on that. Yes cherish the time we have… That’s all there is that we can do, isn’t it? Thank you so much for reaching out.
Kids leaving home was earlier a foreign phenomenon but it has caught up here also and so is empty nest.
Yes, I understand that but still it does hurt…
Kalpana, that’s a sad reality of life.
It sure is … Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts
Ahh I can feel the emotions behind each and every word Kalpana. Beautifully penned
Thank you Vartika. Its very encouraging to hear your feedback. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
My eyes turned moist on reading this. I left home on turning 18 and today I know what my parents must have felt. Hugs to you.
Thank you so much for such a heartfelt comment Sonia. I am not yet there but have already started feeling the pangs of sadness just thinking about it. Loads of love to you.