I am an empty nester who loves being a mom. I don\’t love my career
anymore, and now I have to figure out “What do I want to be when I grow
up?

Coping with the quiet house and no fussing over meals, and no more
soccer games is a big hole for me. That is just part of the darkness. I
was on committees at her school and did morning car pool when she was
younger.

We watched old videos of her, with Kleenex and popcorn tossed on the
floor, right before her send off to college. How could this go so fast?
I never thought about the empty nest until she was a junior in high
school. It wouldn\’t have done me any good to plan ahead. I still can\’t
plan to not cry. She is my only baby and there will be no more little
girl twirling, singing “Old Mac Donald had a Farm,” her calling me
“mom” everyday, bounding in for a quick bite and then off to practice,
no friends dropping in for pizza or study groups, no Halloween costume
changes. There would also be no more hanging around with friends and
talking about our kids. I was out of the “Momhood Club.”

To be honest, although I could fake it and put on the brave, “oh it is
no-big-deal hat,” I cried and cried when I drove away from her standing
on the brick steps of her freshman dorm. She didn\’t see me sobbing. I
didn\’t see her blow me a kiss.

For weeks, I had no energy or motivation to talk much or go out. I felt
tired and didn\’t sleep well and had night sweats and irritability. So
now I was experiencing menopause along with these other major life
changes. I did go to work and complete my have-to-list, but then I hid
in bed, cried and wondered,” should I call her or wait for her to call
me? I don\’t want to interfere in her new life, but why doesn\’t she call
or email me?

I let myself just be a slug. My exercise routine flattened.

My husband asked how I was doing, and I told him I actually felt
depressed. I was so surprised at feeling lonely for her and not having
much energy or smiles. The build up of graduation, party at home, hugs
and tears, and then the excitement and anxiety of moving her into the
brick stone freshman dorm ended and we were silenced from the emotions
and the drain of the intensity and joy.

The let-down was like a gutter ball going down the narrow bowling alley. “THUD.”

After about two months, I began walking, just to get out of myself.

My daughter and I talked about once a week and emailed.

My husband and I saw more movies than ever in our life. We tried playing monopoly after work and then switched to scrabble.

We meandered with no “zippety-do-dah” and didn\’t have all the details
of life to fill up time or fill up our conversations. So we got bored
and after all this nothingness, we began to ask ourselves: Now what?

What about us? What do we want to do with our life? That was a big question and we had to take it step by step.

We decided to take turns planning something to do for the weekends.
Both of us liked packing picnic lunch, driving to the beach, going for
a walk and then reading while we listened to the sound of the waves. It
helped us slow down and figure out our wish list from the inside out.

I don\’t know about my job yet. I\’m making a list of possibilities.

I\’m looking forward to parents\’ weekend, and of course, not looking
forward to the pain of saying goodbye, again. It will be fun to see her
room and meet her new friends.

My friends thought it would be fun to remodel. Absolutely not; too much
work for us. My brother-in law suggested a trip to Greece. Too far away
for now.

I think I will wait and see who I am and who my daughter is in her new,
independent first year away. I feel this pressure that I am suppose to
dance into an exciting romantic life with my husband and get going with
my new free time. That is not me today!
Good luck to all us empty nesters!

Natalie Caine is the founder of Empty Nest Support Services. When her daughter was a senior in high school, she realized that as a soon-to-be “empty nester,” she would be undergoing a major life shift. Not wanting to confront this transition alone nor have her many friends face this abyss without strong support, she created a support services group, which quickly grew into a new career and an exciting full-time business.