In this VLOG:
- How to identify if you have Empty Nest Syndrome
- How to deal with it as a single mom
- How NOT to behave with your child because of it
I first wrote about the challenges of empty nest syndrome for a single mom when I was living in Hong Kong and realised that I was genuinely depressed after my daughter left for university. That was in 2015. I continued to deal with some form of empty nest syndrome until earlier this year.
For me, Empty Nest Syndrome came in the form of layers as our relationship evolved. And to this day, I still crave “more” from my daughter on an emotional level than what she wants from me.
And that’s how it should be. In my head I know this. In my heart, not so much.
The Years Before My Nest Was Empty…
Looking back I know I was wildly lucky to have shared such a wonderful relationship with my daughter. I know that in many ways I wasn’t the best mother but somehow I thought that the type of open and honest relationship we had back then would act as a catalyst for the future, ensuring our relationship would always be great.
Sadly I was wrong, things changed.
If I could turn back time 10 or 15 years I would do it in a heartbeat to relive that time with my daughter again. Hell, I’d take 6 years ago during our last year living together before uni, back in Bangalore, India. I know she would pretend to study but would be gaming or chatting with friends to get out of spending much time with me. But she was still there … and I’d have “moments” with her each day.
Today for me none of those feelings have changed. None of my wishes to have her close, or to hear her voice, or just have her as a presence in my life has changed. I want it all the same way I did back then. Which is terrible for me. And burdensome on her.
She just wants to live her own life. She wants to be happy, follow the path her dreams are leading her down, explore the freedoms of the unknown of life ahead, and build her future. And until recently I just wanted things back to the way they were. It had been an impossible scenario with heartbreak at the end for me if I hadn’t course-corrected.
My low point was when I felt pathetic … and it was embarrassing. I feel almost needy and it was hard not to take what was happening between us personally. I wanted to be in touch more than she does with me. When I reached out, often days (or more) will go by without a reply or even before she takes the time to read my messages. The opposite is true when she sends me a message, of course. I jump on my phone to reply so fast it could give you whiplash!
I felt like a pathetic and sad person who is madly in love with someone who feels nothing close to the same. I know she loves me, that’s not what I mean. But that scenario usually has one person chasing after the other, interested in the details of the other’s life, and wanting some form of validation or love from the other.
So What Did I Do?
Could I change to make my daughter like me more? Or was there something I could have done to make her want to be more in touch? What I realised is that there wasn’t. And the only thing I can continue to do is be proud of the young 24 year old she has become — working as a scientist in Tanzania and doing good in the world.
I’m also giving her time in hopes that she’ll want to have a more evenly-sided relationship in the future. And I’m planning a fun trip for us to go adventure around a few countries in December, like we used to do when she was younger.
But none of that helped me 100% snap out of my Empty Nest Syndrome like building a new life for myself did.
For years I hadn’t been loving the work I did as a chief marketing officer. So in 2016 I left 9-to-5 life and started freelancing, even bouncing around as a digital nomad from time to time in Southeast Asia. But after three years of doing the same type of work, I’m completely burned out.
So I moved to a pretty little island in Indonesia, completely changed my life, and I’m starting up my own coaching and training company where I’ll help hospitality and tourism brands use social media and video … and offer coaching and discover trips for anyone thinking about becoming an expat or digital nomad and I couldn’t be happier (please do subscribe to my That WOW youtube channel):