I started hearing this term this year. A few of Z’s friends were the youngest child in a family of 4 or 5 kids. The experienced parents were talking about this and I thought how apt it sounded.
Quoted from Wikipedia:
Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents may feel when their children leave home for the first time, such as to live on their own or to attend a college or university. It is not a clinical condition.
Since young adults moving out from their families house is generally a normal and healthy event, the symptoms of empty nest syndrome often go unrecognized. This can result in depression and a loss of purpose for parents, since the departure of their children from “the nest” leads to adjustments in parents’ lives. Empty nest syndrome is especially common in full-time mothers.
In our context, this was less likely to happen unless we were to send Z and X overseas for studies. Thankfully for Asian culture and upbringing, the culture of kids living on their own was not prevalent. Besides, rental monies were unnecessary expenditure in tiny Singapore.
However, I started thinking about how our kids would have their own lives and friends by teenage years. They would spend lesser time with us. Now, they still needed us to ferry them around, chaperon them, arrange play dates and pay for their expenses.
How many years would it be down the road before Z preferred to spend time with his friends?
How many more years would I have with X before he deemed hanging out with his parents as uncool?
By then, the house would miss the screams, shrieks and mess of the boys. At times when juggling kids and work was tough, I reminded myself that having a career was critical. It was not the feeling of self worth, it was a reminder that there was more to life than kids, especially when they no longer depended on their parents.