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A Feral Parents Blog: “Empty Nest Blues”

The woman wept into her cell phone as she pushed her shopping cart recently in a big-box discount store. “It’s like a death,” she wailed. “I’m glad for them that they’re in college but it’s grief like they died.” I wanted to wend through the aisles of the store in pursuit and tell her “Yes!! It feels terrible, and then a little better.” Living in the Empty Nest brings a sharp and surprising pain. Every mother I know who is currently saying goodbye to an 18 year is stunned with how intense – and unexpected – the pain is. We were not prepared for this, not warned (as almost all else in parenting, I suppose). I wanted to tell the weeping woman in the store:

It’s a Death: The Empty Nest does bring up feelings of death. It’s the end of an era and there are a million reminders that it’s over: the refrigerator that is now nearly barren, the car stays clean, the DVR contains only  Read More 

Hard-Wired to Crave Variety

(first posted 12/11/12)
Love it when science (especially when delivered by the New York Times) delivers a reason behind a craving, in this case my empty-nester’s new craving to pick up my purse and keys, throw on a black coat, and get out into the San Francisco night, to see young people out on dates, to go where the crowd is, to wander Valencia St. with no destination, out for the thrill of the dark…

“It’s cruel but true: We’re inclined – psychologically and physiologically – to take positive experiences for granted. ..Because…we are biologically hard-wired to crave variety. Variety and novelty affect the brain in much the same way that drugs do – that is, they trigger activity that involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, as do pharmacological highs…Surprise is a potent force. When something novel occurs, we tend to pay attention, to appreciate the experience or circumstance, and to remember it. We are less likely to take our marriage for granted when it continues to deliver strong emotional reactions in us…Surprise is apparently more satisfying than stability.”
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