The Unexpected Hurt at the Empty Nest

Nobody tells you how bad it is going to hurt when your kids leave home.

Sending my daughter off as a bride.
Sending my daughter off as a bride.

Oh sure, older parents tell you how quickly time flies, as they watch your toddlers crawl all over you. And as a young parent you wonder at the wistful look in their eye.

But now I get it. With four of my seven gone, with their own homes, lives, and responsibilities, I confess to feeling surprisingly sucker-punched in the gut by how much this hurts.

I really don't want my kids to read this. So if you are my child, or married to my child, please go away. The last thing I want to be is a sniveling, wimpy, guilt-dishing Mom that forces her kids to come see her. That is NOT the point.

But I do feel the responsibility to warn you Moms with young ones or Moms whose birds are perched on the edge of your nest, ready to take flight... - brace yourselves.

I raised my kids to go. I never wanted them to be unadventurous. I desired them to dream big dreams, slay mighty giants, and conquer the land.

But is it still too much to wish they came home for dinner? I don't even have an empty nest yet. It is just when you are used to having nine people at the table, four feels a bit paltry.

Now full disclosure- there are things I like about having fewer people: -the house stays cleaner longer -it is cheaper to eat at restaurants -there are fewer bathroom lines and less back-up in the laundry room

Moms and Dads of full houses - I know there are days you feel they will never leave, that the laundry will never be done, and that they are slowly draining your life force from the marrow of your bones, drop by painful drop.

And let's be honest. There are also days when you don't even like your kids, and when you would ship them off to boarding school.

If it is one of THOSE days, this message may not seem real.

But I am telling you- grab your kids and enjoy them. Because some day you are going to miss that human so much that it aches to your little toe.

I am not trying to scare you- I am trying to prepare you.

I know life will go on. Parents have survived this transition for centuries. I just have to get acquainted with a continual ache around this vacancy in my day and my heart. And I have to prepare myself for the last three taking flight.

I will eventually find my equilibrium. But until then, I am daily reminded- parenting is not for sissies.