An episodic painful emotion felt by a parent, triggered by an older adolescent’s departure from the home, usually for reasons of leaving for college or for some kind of activity that warrants extended absence from the home. Other triggers include seeing puddles in the road where one used to gleefully steer the car at the behest of said child “Mommy, go through the puddle” and now driving around it, putting away far too many leftovers because one forgot and bought two pounds of fish, or walking by an empty bedroom and realizing, now without wanting to, what the room actually looks like with the bed made. The shedding of tears is extremely characteristic of NestAche, as is the catching of one’s breath and attempts to stifle a sob or two, followed by blowing one’s nose and trying to “get on with it”. To be distinguished from Empty Nest Syndrome, which seems to this author much more entrenched and destructive – likened to arthritis or malaria.
I opted to define this transitional period as NestAche because, as a therapist, I have learned that the words you use to describe something are extremely powerful in how you experience it. In therapy I call it “constructing your reality”. So I am choosing to go through NestAche or really preferring to think of it that way. Sometimes you have to use a front-end loader to haul the feelings out and get them moving; sometimes it just takes a little persuasive coaxing. But the alternative, being an “empty nester” is just not appealing and sounds more like I have lost part of my brain function or like my life is defined by that one event. I will get myself into therapy if my life becomes all about missing my child. So NestAche it is.
A note: I am very aware that I am launching this website on the day after a horrific massacre has occurred in our country. A massacre of many children and adults. Let me please say and quickly that there is, of course, no comparison between what those parents are going through and what I talk about here. Absolutely none. We all cling to our children a little more and are so tragically saddened for all of those parents, families and that community.