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Feeling The Empty Nest Feeling

My children are 20, 18 and 17. They still live with me. By that I mean they are here, but they aren’t really here because they have big lives of their own, as they should. I know my

situation is going to change soon, and I’m feeling all the feelings.

I’m really proud of them

My oldest is saving for a place, my middle child is going to school and talking about moving in with a friend, and my youngest is graduating high school a year early and has plans to

take off for Hawaii to join an organic farming program.

I’m so deeply proud of each of them of course. They’re choosing their own paths and following their dreams. And I know things are happening how they should – they’re independent and don’t need me for much and half the time I’m not even sure where they are,

but I still feel off. Like, really off. So, while I’m happy for them, I’m feeling a bunch of other emotions.

I’m lonely

As a single mom, I eat a lot of meals alone these days. My house is quiet, and no one needs me to make them food or bring them to the doctor. I still do these things when my kids let me

because it doesn’t feel right to go from being needed for everything to having a little too much free time on my hands. My friends who are partnered and are facing an empty nest have these same feelings though.

I feel unsettled

My kids growing up was a slow progression. But that didn’t prepare me enough.

I’m on the cusp of having an empty nest, clinging to every second I can get with my kids like my life depends on it which drives them crazy. They don’t want to check in with me or spend much time with me and it drives them crazy every time I tear up when one of them talks about moving out.

It’s painful

No one told me I would feel physical pain thinking about my kids not living here. I didn’t know it would feel this unnatural. It’s as if I don’t know where to channel how unready I am.

My brain is telling me to let go, to sit back and marvel at the fact my kids are happy and independent and I can take off to Florida for a long weekend if I want.

My heart hasn’t caught up though. I hate having to fake my way through this I know, for all of our sake, I need to pull it together. I’ve spent the past few months crying and telling them how much I’m going to miss them when they go.

I have to talk about it

A few weeks ago I was getting my hair done and talking to my hairdresser about this. It’s a safe place to vent and cry and avoid my kids’ eye rolls because they’ve had it with me at this point. She told me she’d had so many women sit in her chair, women just like me who are in tears and think their world is ending because their kids are moving out and they don’t

know what they’re going to do with themselves.

Then she said, “And you know what? They come back a few months later with new life inside of them. They’re living their best life and are actually a little annoyed when their kids come home and clear out the fridge and do their laundry and mess up their house.” Right now, I can’t quite imagine feeling that way, but it made me feel so much better.

Then I remembered how I felt when I had my first child. How hard it was, how I missed the days when I was all I had to think about, and I wasn’t sure if I’d adjust.

But I did.

I’ll adjust to this too. And the first thing I’ll do is book a vacation, just for me, to speed the process along a bit.


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