Sending your last child off to college means many changes and plenty of emotions for the brand new empty-nester.
I have had many job titles over the course of my lifetime. Associate, assistant, freelancer, independent contractor, manager, specialist, and entrepreneur, just to name a few.
Each of the positions has come and gone over the years. Some lasted longer than others. Some left me with a great sense of accomplishment, while others had me dreading another day. There has been one particular title that has been consistent throughout all of it. Since the time I was just twenty years old, I have had a wonderful job known as Mom.
Being a mother has been my most important job of all. It has certainly been the most exhausting, and by far the most thankless job I have ever had. And yet, I have never felt so rewarded or fulfilled in any other role.
I just had the toughest day on the job so far. Today, I dropped my youngest son off at college. Life, as I have known it for the past thirty years, has just changed with a much-too-quick-for-my-liking hug goodbye and what I’m guessing is a false promise of sending frequent text messages. As he turned to walk down the dormitory hallway, I realized that’s it. It’s over.
There are two gifts we should give our children.
One is roots and other is wings.
There is no one left at home for me to ask about their day; no one to pick up from wrestling practice; nobody to remind to take the dogs out; no more snuggling on the couch watching some Marvel movie I really didn’t care to see in the first place but would never say no to; and no more making their favorite meal just to see them smile.
I am sure it is commonplace to be a little lost when the kids leave for college. In fact, lost is just how I felt when my oldest left for college twelve years ago. However, back then, my middle child was just entering high school and the baby was getting ready to start first grade. My oldest son was five hours away and I missed him terribly, but life had to go on. I was still busy with all sorts of kid related activities. I was still a Mom.
When the second child, my only daughter, left for college, again I felt lost. No more preparing for dance recitals or impromptu shopping trips to the mall. This time, though, I had a bit of a reprieve – the oldest moved back in to save up for his eventual big move across the country. The house was still bustling, full of life and love.
When my daughter graduated from college, she returned home for a short time before settling into her new city 1500 miles away and a mile high. The focus was on the baby of the family, his last few years of high school, and his full calendar of sports activities. And now that’s all over, and he has left the house, too.
I will be honest with myself because I’ve been down this road before. Since my two oldest kids have grown and left home to move on and build their own lives, a piece of “us” as a family is removed. Sure, we visit together as often as possible and stay in close touch (thank goodness for today’s technology that allows us to send an instant text message or have a glorious video chat any time of the day or night). The problem is, I feel less and less connected to them, as their Mom, with each passing day.
For the last thirty years, I have had someone else to look after. Someone that depended upon me. Thirty years! That’s a full career, and it’s not going to be an easy thing to “retire” from. There are now crickets in this house. Complete silence. It’s an empty nest. I don’t know who I am at this very moment. Of course, I’ll always be their Mom, I know that. But, for the first time ever, I don’t feel like a Mom anymore.
It’s difficult to not only say goodbye to your child, but also to life as you’ve come to know it. I don’t envision feeling sad forever, but I will need a bit of time to get my bearings straight. And when I do, I’ll be looking for that next job title. What will it be, I wonder?
I kind of like the sound of Grandma…
P.S. If you are feeling like you aren’t sure what’s next for the second half of your life, download my free guide, Finding Your Midlife Path. You’ll find it in the Resource Library. Get free access here.
16 thoughts on “I Don’t Feel Like a Mom Anymore”
I’ve been there, and it does take some time to find a new normal. However, life just gets more exciting with graduations, new careers, moves, weddings, and grand babies! Take your time to adjust, and learn to embrace your empty nest.
Hi Ellen, thank you. It definitely helps to hear there’s a light at the end of this tunnel 🙂
I am dreading this day. I know it is 10 years away but my heart sank reading this. I love being a mom more than anything in this world. I may just go to college with my youngest. Not sure yet.
Don’t worry about it now! Enjoy every minute with your babies 🙂
My kids have been gone from home for a while now, and then after an almost-decade of caregiving for my mom I am finally an empty nester and I love it. Your relationship will change, but it only gets better as time goes on. One day there will be grandkids and that my friend is the prize at the bottom of the cereal box!
Thanks Rena, I can’t wait for the day that grandbabies come along 🙂
I have 3 kids, 11, 8, and 1. I don’t know what it’s like to have an empty nest yet, but I can only imagine all the different changes in life. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt experience! It gives me a whole new perspective.
Hi Willy, it looks like you have some gaps in age the same as my kids. It helped keep me busy. Enjoy every minute 🙂
That’s why I started my own blog! My boys are still in high school, but I know this day is coming. So I want to build something for myself that gives me a new purpose. And you are already doing that, too! Great post!
Thanks, Kristin! I started the blog during my youngest son’s senior year because I knew there was going to be a big void to fill soon enough. Best of luck with your blog 🙂
Great post. I’m almost to the point where you are but we are a step ahead and have been blessed with grands already. While they’ll never take the place of your own, they take doting to a new level!
Thanks, Stephanie!. I am keeping my fingers crossed that those babies get here sooner rather than later 😉 Enjoy every second with yours!
Describes exactly what I am feeling! Dropped our youngest son off a couple of weeks ago. I never thought I would feel so sad to have so much time to myself. I know it will get better but sure is hard to not be needed so much anymore 🙁
Amy, it IS hard! It will get easier (so I’m told). Hang in there 🙂
Such a great blog…I can sooo relate! I have 3 who have flown to 3 different states, & I miss them so. They are busy with their lives, but I just expected to hear from them more than every month or so. I feel discarded, like they’re done with me now. I expected a different relationship when they became adults. I stay busy with hobbies & volunteering, & picking up extra hours at work, but I still feel a bit melancholy. It’s just too quiet at home…I miss the busy-ness, the conversations, the friend groups stopping by, & the laughter.
Teri, thank you for reading. I am sorry you are feeling this way, it is such a hard transition time. You’re doing the best thing you can by staying busy. Keep with it and you’ll find new things that bring you joy. 🙂