Leaving the nest

MovingDay

You know how teenagers in America and their parents look like they cannot wait for the fateful age of 18 years old for them all to break free. I have always found it scary, as for me an 18 years old child is still in his/her infancy!

When I think of myself at 18, I cannot fathom being thrown out of the house to confront the world. I was kind of sheltered for a long time, but my sisters, for example, grew up faster than me!

At 18, I had no clue what so ever! Don’t get me wrong, though. I knew my left from my right: I knew I did not want to smoke cannabis even if some friends were passing it on right under my nose and I did not have a boyfriend yet, although let us not rewrite history here, this would not stay true for too long. And I was a strong feminist, too: I am a woman, yes, so what?

I had strong opinions but I really did not know what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to study, and I ended up wasting a lot of time. Although I will not say that it was really wasted as not doing anything is also part of growing, as I read somewhere and I believe it to be true! But only as far as I am concerned (This is a cautionary statement in case any children of mine would want to quote me on this!)

Fortunately my children are by far more organized and focused than I was at their age, I don’t think I would have stand a child like myself! I think that I am rather kind and nice but not focused enough, just too much going with the flow.

As I have already said earlier, I was lucky enough that my older daughter decided to come and have a look out here, on our planet earth, because she is the one that anchored me to this life and stopped my drifting away.

Not that I am a protective mother, I am not. Don’t tell anybody, but I can easily forget about my children a few days in a row! And when they were studying abroad, I was not monitoring their every move. Nonetheless, I found out recently that even if my relationship with my children is not always on a day-to-day basis, my emotional life is pretty much centered on them.

I have just realized that I cannot function properly if they are not functioning properly. It is as if I am linked to them with some invisible bond I was not aware of before. I would not mind them crossing oceans to go and live for years at the other end of the globe, but as soon as I feel them sad or lost, I become lost myself.

I don’t know if that is what every mother feels at various degrees, but this is what I am experiencing. It is a little contradictory I know, on one hand I am not disturbed with not seeing them for long stretch of time, and on the other hand, I feel disoriented when something is not right in their life.

So, although I think 18 years old is too young to leave the nest, I don’t mind my child living on her own once she finishes her studies and starts working. I would even prefer it to be the norm. I will not suffer from empty nest syndrome as I strongly believe that everyone of us has a beautiful life to live at any age and a woman’s life certainly cannot be defined by raising children alone.

When I first arrived in Nigeria, I didn’t understand the need to stay close to your family, brothers, sisters, cousins…, but I grew to appreciate the moral support and joy of being together it can bring to your life. However, I don’t agree with the idea that a young woman should stay indefinitely in her father’s house until she gets married. The cohabitation between parents and young adults can quickly become frustrating, as everybody needs more space, with boyfriends drama and all. But this is a story for another day!


8 thoughts on “Leaving the nest

  1. I love this…it reminds me of my dad who always complained when my sibling and I were at home coz we all went to a boarding sch…he talk about how our resumption quickly nd whenever we headed back to sch…he’d call us nd see us frequently and also. complain on how he missd us soo much…I just love every word btw d lines

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    1. Thank you for your appreciation, oluwanifemi. I am always happy to hear about loving dads like your own. Dads who cannot go to bed until their daughter has returned safely from a party even if it means staying up till 2 or 3 am while the mother (me!) is sound asleep!

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  2. Hi Glory,
    You’ve been MIA. Glad to see you back.
    I personally think 18 is too young however that is the age that many people join campus including my country. I wasn’t privileged to join campus immediately and so at 18, I was a volunteer French teacher at a high school in my hometown for 3 months.
    Looking back, I ought to have demanded to be paid!! Then I did have my first love whom I dated for a very long time. But at this stage in my life, I think I made very many mistakes at that age. I knew nothing about the world. I knew what I wanted to study in campus but I didn’t know how to for example, handle being estranged from my dad and parents’ separation that had happened 6 years earlier. Plus I can’t quite say my mother was there enough emotionally for me and my sister at the time.
    When I become a parent, I hope to gently help my children transition from living at home to being on their own. I don’t believe in girl childrem staying at home with their parents till marriage same as you do. Leaving home and being on their own helps a lot in them becoming normal functioning adults. Not that those who stay till marriage aren’t normal functioning. I just think people need sometime on their own to learn who they really are as individuals. So at 18, children need a lot of parental guidance but not the smothering kind.
    Thanks for igniting thought with this post and reminding me of the time I was 18.

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    1. Hi, Proudlyfeminist. Sorry for my absence. My head was somewhere else! Plus, I am not really good at multitasking! Happy to learn that you once taught French, you are not as bad as you made it sound then! I hope you are still practicing it. Marriage being a tough adjustment, I think, like you say, that some experience living alone, not as a student but as a working girl, when possible, can be beneficial.

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      1. I think I was a very determined 18 year old no wonder the teaching stint. Since French is not spoken in Kenya and is only taught in select schools which I was lucky to attend, I may go very long periods without speaking it. Good thing is that I comprehend it and can read French text with the help of a dictionary for the difficult words.

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  3. I think all mothers are emotionally attached to their children, it’s one of the strongest bond ever. So I don’t think there is any contradiction when you said that you feel down whenever they are down, yet you don’t mind being far away from them. In fact, that’s a strength in my opinion, to let go of your loved ones (still loving them, of course). I have a long way to go before I start thinking about my daughter moving out of the house, right now I’m just enjoying the early moments with her 🙂

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    1. Enjoy your little one! Motherhood can be quite difficult later on! But children are a blessing, as I am starting to understand truly now. My daughters make me grow everyday. They have strengthened the bond between my husband and I. Although, I will never recommend having a baby to patch a relationship, as it often makes it worse! The early stage of parenthood can be challenging for a couple.

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      1. I am making the most of it every day, and just pray/hope that she would not be a difficult teenager… It’s true that the first months/years can be quite challenging. For us, it’s mostly how very close our baby is to me atm (naturally). My husbands takes it pretty though. We make sure that whenever he gets back from work (and on weekends) he spends his time looking after her until she goes to sleep.

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