I’m not Crazy…It’s Empty Nest Syndrome

Over the years I’ve heard about empty nest syndrome, but I’ve never thought it would start while my son was still in high school. Now that I think back I think it really started to hit me when the second semester started back in January. I think that is when you start to realize that it’s only a few months left till your baby is graduating high school. I’m the last person in the world you would think would be having such a hard time with this. I’m a really strong person and most things don’t get to me. I guess that is way I’m having such a hard time with this.

It seemed like the closer it got to graduation the worse it got. I have been so sad and depressed. I think my brain flipped though every memory it could recall of my son growing up. I started missing all the things you do for your kids. Simple things like school shopping I went to Wal-Mart, and saw a young mother buying school supplies for her elementary aged children. I found myself wanting to buy colors and paste and scissors and one of those little cardboard boxes they had to have to put it all in. Remember those? I wish I could do it all over again, I love being a mother.

After reading up on empty nest syndrome I learned it’s usually the mother who suddenly finds herself with these feelings of being lost and alone. The effects can vary, depending on different factors. For instance, when the mother is divorced and living alone, it can be particularly difficult which I am. When a mother has been a stay at home mom like I have been, she might feel that life is over, that she has no purpose in living. In severe cases, when depression is severe or last a long time, counseling may be needed. I’m hoping I want need that.

When the time does come that our children marry or graduate from high school and leave for college, it can be difficult to deal with the emotions that we feel. We try to hide our sadness from others because these events in a child’s life are supposed to be happy occasions. While we are happy for our children, we are also feeling a deep sense of loss. We have to remember that these feelings are perfectly normal, and not be afraid to seek out comfort from friends and family.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. momshieb
    Jun 25, 2011 @ 10:40:31

    Hi, Melissa!
    I share your story, your situation, your feelings. Like you, I want to tell people that I am not crazy, and I am not lacking in a social life, I’m just really sad! I miss those baby days, I miss being the “mommy” for my three. Life goes on, and there are benefits to having time for ourselves, but we still yearn for those little voices and those sweet memories. Keep writing; its my best therapy!


    • mdbhayes
      Jun 25, 2011 @ 12:32:53

      Thanks for your kind words. It really is hard for people to understand what we are going though. I’m like you I so miss being a mommy to little ones. People don’t understand that after you’ve been a mother for twenty years it becomes who you are. My whole life for the last twenty years has been about my children in one way or another. Every decision I’ve made in one way or another comes back to the kids. It’s almost impossible to remember what life was like before becoming a mother. Don’t get me wrong I know I’m still a mother and I always will be. I’m trying to figure out how to handle the new form of motherhood. When and if I do I will share it.


      • Barb
        Jul 29, 2011 @ 19:03:16

        I’ve been trying to figure it out since 2004…see below. I responded to another comment. When you figure it all out you need to write a book. I don’t know when I will ever feel right again.

    • Barb
      Jul 29, 2011 @ 19:11:01

      AS I read what you wrote all I could think is I know what you mean…I have been sitting here thinking that I wish I could just talk to you or make sure that you seen the posts here. I’m just really sad too…it’s unexplainable! Oh most of the time people think I’m just fine…I’m not. I’ve often thought that I should write a book…but who would want to read it. I’m just a mom missing the life I lived and loved for 24 years…and it appears it was all for nothing. Our life has been full of complications…but we always managed to make it all together…here we are married for 29 years and it feels like we are starting all over again. Being sad comes in degrees I guess…I do ok some of the time more when things are going smoothly with the girls…when they aren’t it’s pure torture. Hang in there…and keep on writing and sharing. I have found that going to Church and spending time with my dear hubby is precious…faith has taken me a long way.


    • Barb
      Jul 29, 2011 @ 19:13:17

      Melissa…I responded to you but it posted down below…I must not have clicked on your reply button. I understand when you say that you’re just really sad…even though you are busy and have plenty to do. Hugs!


  2. J. Jill Thacker
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 19:51:00

    Please talk to me because I also will be one of those empty nesters in a couple of weeks. Both of my daughters are moving out into an apartment together for college. I feel like part of me is dying…even though they aren’t moving that far away. I was divorced from their father when they were 4 and 7 and, even though I am remarried, the three of us have been through so much together and I have always LOVED being a mom. They are sooo very precious to me and I love hearing everything about their life…good and bad. I go from being so happy for them to crying in the tub at night or trying to find a private place to go cry. Let me know how you deal with it, because I don’t know where to turn. I certainly don’t want to rain on their parade. I’m very proud of them and who they are becoming….just hurts thinking that their cars won’t be parked in my drive and I won’t hear them coming in late at night, or listening to them laugh in the other room..or even cry and I can go back to them. And, of course, there are still those precious moments that I can sneak by, open their door and see them sleeping in their beds.


    • Barb
      Jul 29, 2011 @ 18:56:42

      I feel all that you are feeling and die a little more each and every day or so it feels to me. It’s such a long hard life to live. I wish I could have a do over. I was blessed to be able to be home with our daughters most of the time. No career just being a Mom and wife. There has never been anything I wanted more in my life than to have a family to love and grow. I love our children like they are my air and they have often been the reason for my next breath. I never thought about them growing up and moving a thousand miles away from me. It just never occured to me. It never occured to me that my daughters would live in the same town and not have time for me. It’s always that they are busy or the famous “I’m an adult now…you need to find something else to do with your time.” I have plenty of things that fill my time. I have a nice life. I just can’t understand where all the time went…I miss all the same things you do…and their girl friends coming by for me to do their hair or take them somewhere. I can tell you one thing…if I had it all to do again we wouldn’t buy them cars…we wouldn’t have TV’s or computers or telephones in their rooms or away in another room. One of our daughters was diagnosed as an insulin dependent diabetic… need I say more about letting her go off to college. She did. I lived but it hasn’t been easy. That was in 2000. She graduated college in 2004 and moved to Long Island and then on to Connecticut to take her dream job right after she got married out east not here in the midwest with us. We went and paid and it was amazing…but it has felt like we lost our daughter to her husband’s family. We don’t matter to her any more at all. Then in January 2010 she had our first grandchild…and it’s been over a year ago that we last seen the sweet little blessing at his baptism. Our youngest daughter has always had an independent side to her and is ALWAYS to busy to do anything anywhere that she doesn’t feel or want to do…and the oldest has made a multitude of bad choices and has deemed us bad parents because we had to make choices to protect ourselves from her apparent need to try to ruin her life. She doesn’t talk to her sisters, me or her Dad. It’s weird how people who all hung out in the same house for so many years can all be so different and disconnected. I feel like a failure. I miss the days when we would rent movies and make popcorn and make beds on the couch, the floor and in the recliners to watch movies and be together. I miss having the girls scout meetings and doing the things required to earn the patches. I miss taking them to gymnastics, dance class, piano lessons, violin lessons, concerts, Disney on ice, amusement parks, going to all the Disney movies together and every kid film made while they were little…we took them to concerts and out to eat every week after church and often while we were on the go to events. I miss reminding them we need to go to the orthodontist, the doctor to pick them up from their friends or drop them off. I miss hearing them call me from the other end of the house and me thinking then man when will this end. I just plain miss all of it and it doesn’t matter that I have a full calendar of things to do and places to go…all I need is a glimpse of a picture or for the phone to ring and my heart jumps…all in hopes that they think of me and maybe need me once in awhile. My husband says I should be proud that I raised strong independent girls who handle things well. I really hate it when he says that because I think if I did such a good job WHERE are they. I miss them. I don’t want to be in their every day lives but once in a while willingly would be a dream come true. My last one left in 2004 she was the youngest and it wasn’t a pretty departure or for the right reasons…it’s been some of the hardest years of my life since 1997…and it feels like nobody has a clue how hard it’s really been. Sometimes I just feel like giving up.


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