Pre Empty-Nest Syndrome

An Ode to Motherhood


Mansa Prasad
Watercolor: by Mansa Prasad

I see the choice sheet from my daughter’s school lying on the table and I feel almost numb.  Usually the choice sheet springs me into action as I buzz around my kid debating on what courses she should take(as if she could care less) and feel part of an important decision-making process. This year is different. Yes, my older one will be a senior in High school in a matter of few months, and gone off to college soon after! Somehow, the thought makes me sombre, as if struck by reality. I am swept by sheer bitter-sweetness, as I feel unprepared for the moment of separation. The sense of emptiness creeps in on me, like I am already missing her laughter that reverberates the entire house, or the sly footsteps that approach from the back to hold me in a tight embrace with slender arms, to kiss me good night.
Images flash through my mind, the bundle of joy swaddled in warm hospital clothes, the curly locks and toothless smile, the terrible two that went on to become terrible ten, the lanky girl with long legs who loved to climb trees, and even more loved the water and pretended to be a mermaid and never stopped dancing, and never gave up tantrums and brought drama in my life, not to mention the infinite pranks played on her innocent younger sister or any friend who happened to be a prey!! She the manga girl, the gamer tomboy, the artist with nails painted sometimes in color, sometimes black and sometimes everything in between in all possible designs. As the colors from her paintings adorn my walls, so do they bring life in my heart and light up my soul!

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If I could award anyone for my parental skills and wisdom, it would be her, my first one, the one who brought me the honor of motherhood, with all its challenges and self-doubt. Yes, we have seen it all, the mother-daughter duo, we have been through the ups and downs in our years of bonding, the meltdowns, nagging, the laughter, the hang-outs, the craziness, chit-chats, the little secrets and subtle undercurrents of mutual love and respect.
Today, the self-proclaimed strong mom stands defenseless, frozen at the sight of a choice sheet that suddenly reminded her of the seventeen long years that passed in a fleet, in a heartbeat. Soon, her child would no more be dropped off to school, nor will she wage the battle of SAT words. In no more than four years, she would see her second one follow suit, for that she has to brace herself, to be in the empty nest. And that is the law of nature, the circle of life.
As she, my daughter, moved on gracefully past me, I saw through my tear-stained smile the creases that formed on my weathered face, and nodded as in self-affirmation. I reminded myself the quintessential quote by Khalil Gibran:

“Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself……”



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