Empty Nest Syndrome – Does It Exist ?

Empty Nest Syndrome is a loose term used when the children of a family have grown up and moved out of the family home. I have vague memories of seeing the term in women’s magazines or in agony aunt columns, but I honestly never paid much attention to it. Until now. I am now officially an empty nester. And do you know what ? It is one of the most life changing events any mother will go through. There is so much written about the shock of becoming a new mother, post natal depression and all the emotions that go with having a baby. But there is little written about another huge shock in a mother’s life – when her children leave home to become independent adults for the first time.

 

empty nest

When I married at the age of 21 I was keen to start a family almost straight away. I had graduated from university but I decided that my family would take priority over my career and I would be a stay at home mother.  I know this does not suit everyone but this was my choice and I still stand by that today and wouldn’t do it any differently.

My first daughter arrived at the age of 23 and I went on to have two more daughters at age 26 and 30 years old. My life with my family was just amazing. We lived close to my parents and my husbands parents and we enjoyed a really happy, joyful life as one big happy family. My daughters were happy, content and full of life and I have so many happy memories of their life growing up.

 

empty nest

My three beautiful daughters

Of course we had difficulties like any other family. We both were made redundant from our jobs when I was eight weeks pregnant with my third daughter and so money was tight for a year till my husband found another job. My middle daughter had severe health problems and spent a lot of her childhood in hospital but we rallied round and coped as best we could. We divorced when my youngest was five but we still maintained a strong family unit albeit living in two separate houses. Overall I was so blessed to have wonderful children and a happy family life.

 

empty nest

So, as each child reached adulthood and left home I found my life changing in ways that I wasn’t comfortable with. It was almost like my job and life as a mother was slowly becoming redundant. I found myself worrying MORE about my children as they got older. Yes ! If you think you worry about them when they are small, wait until they reach young adult stage when you have no control over them. At least when they are small and tucked up in bed in the family home you know that they are safe and secure. When they become independent and they are out late and with people you don’t know, then trust me, your level of worry goes up a few notches. This worry continues even when they move out and become fully independent. I was never prepared for this and it was a shock to me to find I worried continually about my daughters at a time when I thought I would be more relaxed.

 

empty nest

 

In the past week my youngest daughter moved out with her fiance into their own home. I am now finally a proper empty nester. Yes, I was hugely proud of all my daughters for moving out into the big wide world, following their chosen career path and making homes for themselves. But, I would be lying if I didn’t admit how absolutely heartbroken I was when I saw my youngest daughter’s empty room in our family home. In a way I found it difficult to take in and register. It was as if my brain couldn’t work out where my children had gone. I sat in her room for a long while trying to take it all in. I know this seems strange as it wasn’t a huge shock that she was moving out. I had months of preparation for this day. But when the day actually arrived it seemed so real and final.

I have spent the last week walking round our seemingly empty house with all the thoughts going round my head. I keep popping into her empty room and staying there for a few minutes. I’m not sure why. I think I need to do this to take it all in. Another strange occurance this week, is that I have felt myself lately missing my father very much who died suddenly four years ago. He was my rock and I adored him and I have missed him so much this week and found myself sobbing everytime I see his photo on the windowsill. I guess in times when we feel vulnerable we want to reach out to those who make us feel safe and loved. I know my father, if he were here, would make this emptiness just a little less raw with his down to earth manner and funny jokes.

 

empty nest

My daughters with my beloved dad.

So how do I feel now, one week on ? I guess I feel empty and a little lost in my life. It’s like I’m not sure what to do with myself anymore. I have been a mother for nearly thirty one years which is over half my life and had children in my house for that length of time. So now to have an empty house ( apart from my husband of course ) is a very strange, emotional feeling and not one I am enjoying to be honest. Of course it is early days and I am sure I will eventually settle down into this new life of just me and my husband. Until then I am going to be kind to myself, cry if I need to ( and I do !) and just try and focus on our plans for the future.

I keep reminding myself that I am still a mother and always will be. No matter how old my children are, they will always be my babies that I love unconditionally. I now have a grandson whom I adore and I expect there will be more grandchildren over the years to come. Our strong family life will continue but in a different way.  I wish there was more information and support about empty nest issues. I can imagine it affects so many women who are already at a vulnerable time in their lives with menopause and the loss of parents, loved ones or friends. I will keep writing about it as time progresses. I will update you on how things are for me and how I am coping as an empty nester.

 

empty nest

With my daughters at my wedding to my husband.

I hope many of you will comment about your own experiences as an empty nester. Are you dreading it ? How did you cope when it happened to you ? Only by opening up and sharing experiences can we help each other through a difficult time. I know personally, I would welcome your thoughts and ideas that I might benefit from. It would be lovely to hear from you. If you don’t wish to comment publicly then please email me or message me on social media.

Until next time dear friends

Much love

Susanna xx

Share:

4 Comments

  1. Marilynne Lambert
    7th May 2017 / 9:09 am

    Having known you from your teen years, I have seen your girls growing up over the years. In one way I think having more then one has made it worse for you. Also your youngest has stayed with you longer then most Children do. So it has become much harder for you to let go as it has become normal to always have her there with you for so long. With me having just the one daughter and her getting married in her early twenties, also with her living only a couple of miles away. I did not feel a loss somehow. As I was there to help out and pop in to see them. My feeling of loss came when her husband died of cancer just a few years after they were married with a two years old and her second daughter born only three weeks later on his birthday.
    I think it is hitting me more also with my eldest Granddaughter going to University in Spain for three years and maybe she working away from home for years!!! I feel a lot of emptiness without her here to have a hug with. So you see it can start all over again with the Grandchildren. So enjoy him while he is young. Sadly it is a moving circle. Take advantage of any spare time and meet up with friends, it helps. Try not to be on your own too much. You know my number. Much love M xxx

    • Susanna
      8th May 2017 / 4:17 pm

      Thanks Marilynne. Yes its taking some time to adjust to a house with no children in it. But I guess most mothers feel a sense of loss once they have all left home. I know I need to keep busy which isn’t difficult as I now work from home although that in itself can make me miss them more as the house feels so empty without them. I’m sure it will all work out in the end. I guess it just takes time xx

  2. 27th June 2017 / 10:26 am

    I can relate to exactly how you describe, my only child my daughter left home (East Yorkshire) February 2016 two weeks before my Mam died, she had dementia and bladder cancer in a nursing home and I was the only one with her when she died. I miss my Mam terribly my Dad died 26 years ago as well. I still cannot get used to the losses and now have depression something which has come on slowly since last year. I have now lost hope of the future, something I hide as I think I have happy depression. The NHS counselling hasn’t helped. I miss my daughter so much. We see her every three to four weeks she lives near London where she moved with a job opportunity. She comes back home every four to six weeks. She texts and rings every day as I think she misses us. I gave up work to raise her and stay at home and it’s very hard getting used to the lack of purpose as my main identity was being a Mam, a daughter, a guineapig owner and now all have gone. I would love a support group for empty nesters but there doesn’t seem to me one, I think it would be great to meet other empty nesters. Whenever she comes and I wave her off or we wave her of at her home I cry after as it seems so sad that all those years are over. The guilt is terrible also was I patient enough, a good enough Mam did we do enough fun things when she was growing up add to that menopause and it’s no fun. Her room is still the same, I won’t ever change it it’s just had things added to make her stay comfy. I also have fairy lights in there lit up when she comes so make her feel welcome. I wish I could go back in time and do it all again.

    • Susanna
      28th June 2017 / 10:37 am

      Aw Sue. Your post made me cry. I know EXACTLY how you feel and I am not just saying that. I too feel this lack of identity as I gave up everything to be a mum. It is now 2 months since my last daughter left home and I still feel that awful emptiness. I desperately want to go back in time and do it all again and re live the wonderful happy times we had. Not been able to do this leaves me feeling so down and even panicky. And all these feelings happen when we are going through menopause so no wonder we feel so low and depressed. I have thrown myself into my work since she left. I work from home with an Ebay business. I also have my dog at home who is my baby now ! My husband is very understanding but he doesnt really understand how I feel as he just can’t. I too wish there was a support group for empty nesters as there must be thousands of women who feel the same. It could be a place to talk about feelings but also to try encourage each other to look ahead in a more positive way. It has given me an idea for perhaps another project so watch this space. Until then please email me privately and we can be a support group for each other ! ayorkshiregirl123@yahoo.com
      Take care hunny Susanna xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *