I was on the verge of tears, right there at the salad bar. Something was empty and it wasn’t the bacon bits.
Walking past the salad bar, I ran into a friend who mentioned an article I had shared on Facebook. He proceeded to share his story of sitting in the post office parking lot crying as he mailed a letter to his son who had joined the navy. He was a single dad and deeply felt the loss of his son. His nest was empty and he shared how much it hurt. Although this occurred more than twenty years before, the memory was vivid and painful.
Later I was chatting with another friend who confessed that she still grieved about her empty nest and her daughter got married twelve years ago.
There is a stage of life that every mother will one day face. You may have already faced it. You may be preparing to watch your little birdies fly from the nest or your nest may be so full that you don’t think about the day they’ll leave; you’re just hoping they’ll let you use the bathroom alone, in peace.
Moms: we’re all on a journey. Each of us is at some point on that long line of motherhood. Every one of us knows it’s the best, most fun and dreadfully painful journey. On our good days, we wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything. On our bad days, don’t even ask.
I’m personally near the great big finishing line, and the truth is I am not at all happy about it. It hurts. I find myself scouring Amazon for empty nest coping books. I have caused my family concern with how often I proclaim that I am depressed. When I was totally overwhelmed with five little kids, I never imagined that this day would come and I didn’t know how much it would hurt.
It’s funny that there are topics we as mothers don’t seem to discuss. Until now, I didn’t know others who struggled with the change that comes when our children leave. We so often hear people who can’t wait until the kids leave. I thought everyone else seemed to handle it fine and that something was lacking in me.
It is so unfortunate that we as moms quite often feel so alone. When we’re up nursing our little one every two hours and would do anything for a little more sleep, we feel so alone. When our toddler has thrown every toy on the floor for the tenth time in one day, the last thing we have time to do is make dinner and we wish you could just take a shower, we feel so alone. When our teen has rejected our authority and informed us they no longer agree with what you think or say, you feel so alone. Then when they finally head out into the world, ready to do all that you hoped they’d do, you feel so alone. Unfortunately, there are also those of us who have faced unbearable loss and tragedy along the way and you feel so alone.
I wish we all knew that we are not alone. Each of us, for the most part, are going through the same situations, frustrations and sorrows. No one else’s house is clean. Everyone has piles of dirty laundry. Each of us has hidden out in the bathroom, and cried countless tears. We’ve felt like failures. We’ve beat ourselves up. We’ve given mercy to others but not to ourselves. We have poured out our lives to raise young men and women who will make a positive difference in this world and find fulfillment and happiness. We are all fighting the good fight of motherhood, succeeding and failing, and none of us is doing it perfectly. I believe that we are all more alike than we are different.
Wherever you are on this journey I want you to know:
You are not alone! There are countless other mothers doing and feeling the same things as you.
It’s true that this too shall pass. Your current struggles seem so hard as a young mother. The terrible twos seem to last forever, but it doesn’t. It passes too quickly. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, focus on planting seeds for tomorrow. Each day, focus on an action that will change your child’s behavior. Keep planting seeds. One day you WILL have a harvest.
Motherhood is an amazing calling and purpose. What you are doing matters greatly. Don’t believe that your brain cells are drying up and dying as you read Go Dog Go, for the thousandth time. You are raising the next generation. You are training our hope for the future.
SPEND YOUR LIFE LIVING! There is sorrow at every stage of motherhood. Somehow, some way, we must learn to focus on life. We need to shift our attention from the trial, to the good that does exist in our lives. Don’t miss their baby stage, the snuggles and cuddling because you think you have too much to do. Don’t miss enjoying their toddler years because you are focused on the mess of your life. Don’t miss the teen years. It truly can be so enjoyable fellowshipping with your child. Then don’t let the empty nest steal the remainder of your life.
I have some work to do. I really do want to spend my life living. I don’t want to spend every day depressed. Ten years from now I’ll look back and realize I was missing out because I couldn’t see past this phase of motherhood.
I know that none of it is simple. We can’t just flip a switch and, “TA-DA, we are now coping perfectly with our current phase.” Because of this, be kind to other mothers who are struggling. Don’t offer pithy sayings. Offer understanding and encouragement. Remember what that stage felt like and how it was hard to see past it.
However, we must remind ourselves and others to be determined, that no matter our stage in life, that we will do our best to spend our lives living!
I am so happy to welcome my new subscribers to this blog. The Breezy Porch is a blog about encouragement and hope as we enjoy an unhurried life. We’re all busy and our busyness steals from us in different ways. Join me here on The Breezy Porch each week where you will find a little light for your road, a little kick for your step and a whole lot of love for the things that make life worth living.
My new book, Spring Pleasures – 50 Simple Pleasures for Winter-weary Souls, is available in my SHOP
This Saturday, March 24, I will be hosting a book signing from 9 to 2 at “The Ladies Day Out” event at the Tipton County 4H building, 1200 S. Main, Tipton, IN. There will also be boutique venders, entertainment, food and a fashion show. Stop by and see me!
Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy of, Spring Pleasures. Contest ends this Friday, March 23.
Thank you for joining me on The Breezy Porch!!!
Oh gosh there are so many things I could say, but I wouldn’t want this to turn into a letter instead of a comment! I was never blessed with children, so I went through the Empty Nest before I ever got one. LOTS OF TEARS! Then my brother and sister both had children later in life, so I felt like a grandma (that I would never really get to be) more than an aunt. When they started growing up, I felt the empty nest pains because my nieces didn’t want to come over and play anymore. They would rather spend time with their friends. Then, when all of my friends started becoming grandmas…OUCH!
But take heart, you will still get to enjoy your children in a different way. They will become adults that you can do things and go places with on a different level, and you’ll get to be a grandma! And your house will start filling up again with grandchildren visiting. And in between that time, you have found your passion, which is writing. So you get to work on that!
Ps. My Dad asked why I even want to go on spring break at my age. My answer, “Because Taylor asked.” (my niece!) That was all that needed to be said!
Thanks so much for sharing Cindy. You can write all you want anytime!
I have felt the dying brain cells while reading Go, Dog, Go to my granddaughters who seemed to love that little travesty of a book, and I remember well the days when “you’re just hoping they’ll let you use the bathroom alone, in peace.”
Thank you for your words of encouragement to live every phase of motherhood to its fullest–to enjoy them as they slip by.
So true, so true. Thankful for you in this season of my life.
Loved the article…
Need to remind that Fathers are also affected deeply with Empty Nest Syndrome.
That is why speaking daily to everyone is a good idea.
Sometimes not doable, but works more than not.
I agree Chuck, Thanks!
Debbie, When my first born left for college, I cried all the time. Sometimes tears flowing into the dish water, forcing me to wash them over. It is a very emotional thing for mothers when their children leave the nest. I still miss my birdies being with me each day, but feel I did a great job with them. Mothers have the toughest job ever. 🙂 I know there are fathers who feel as we do. Thankful for them. I will try my best to see you again at the 4-H building this coming Saturday. Blessings, xoxo, Susie
I don’t think I’ll ever experience an empty nest. I have 8 children. One of them is an adult with Down Syndrome and autism and has the cognitive level of a 2 year old. He will live with me until I can no longer care for him. My other 7 children range in age from 7 to 25. My oldest 2 adult children are no longer living at home. They live across the country from me and I miss them, but I’m still in the thick of mothering my 6 remaining at home. I’m in my 50’s now and will be approaching 70 when my youngest heads off on her adult adventure. It seems like I’ve been in motherhood mode for most of my life and surviving from day to day.
Dena I wish you the best as you continue in the thick of mothering. Thanks for reading!