16 September 2018

On empty nesting and spring madness in autumn

My child, my one and only offspring, fruit of my body, is twenty one years old. Twenty one. I have produced and managed to aid a full human to grow to this ripe age and everything. And, strangely, one gets rather attached to a human living in your space like this. So it is with some dismay that I have recently realised that this human will not remain in our space forever.

It has been even more pronounced recently as they have been travelling to Norway fairly frequently to visit their partner. The last trip was the one that really drove home this realisation. And so I have started preparing myself for the empty nest syndrome.

The husband and I luckily enjoy each others company, and have spent a fair bit of time together so we won’t find ourselves suddenly living with a stranger as so many do, but our house always feels a little emptier when the young one is away and the emptiness will take some time to get used to. I am sure it, as all other feelings, will eventually fade.

I will just need to plan my travels carefully, to ensure we can continue the one real tradition we have, which is me waking them up at 5:45am on the morning of their birthday with pancakes (or crepes as the rest of the world apparently calls them).


Growing up in South Africa, September was always the month of spring. It may not always be warm, but the signs of spring would be everywhere – sun rising earlier, trees in full bloom, air full of promise. September also meant I had a lot more energy and a head full of ideas, which I later realised was a cyclical bout of hypomania.

When we moved to the northern hemisphere, I believed this would end, as September is the beginning of autumn, and I expected I would see a slight downturn in mood.

And last year, my first September here, I didn’t really notice a mood swing either way.

But, this year, the mood I associate with September is back. Less sleep, more excitement, more exuberance, more energy. And thanks to my lovely friend Mandy’s research skills, I have now learnt that this is expected behaviour. And with some additional research, it turns out this is expected two weeks on either side of both the Autumn and Spring equinox. I must be honest, I have not really tracked my mood that actively for the last few years, and I have become a little complacent. I can feel the hypo coming on, and try and manage as much as possible with diet, sleep, exercise and sheer stubborness, but this means I am probably overdue a full episode and should keep track of things slightly better again.

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