Emotionally Approaching an Empty Nest: My Baby is not a Baby Anymore!

Not too long ago, I wrote about Approaching an Empty Nest and bragged about how much I was looking forward to it, about the plans my husband and I are making to move away when my daughter graduates from high school next year, about how proud I am of her and how I *might* shed a tear or two.

What silly babble!

And not too long ago, I completed the hubchallenge, writing not just 30 but 35 new hubs in thirty days. I completed the challenge with a public announcement of a new personal goal to publish five new hubs per week.

What silly babble!

Emotions wreck logic. Period. And mommy's are emotional creatures. Period.

I know, I'm babbling again. But my baby left for France Monday, and I haven't been right since.

It starts at birth. All you mom's know exactly what I mean and all you non-mom's are sick of hearing it. But that moment when you fall madly in love at first sight with your child is like no other. No romantic love ever compares. You get over it, at least for a minute or two here and there, like when they explore the refrigerator and dump all your new groceries on the kitchen floor, or when they learn to roll their eyes at you, but the flat-out LOVE slams you just as powerfully over and over again, year after year, when you least expect it. Like it did me Sunday night. 

When my baby girl was really a baby - only three years old - I won a scholarship to travel in Great Britain. I don't know what even possessed me to apply for the thing. It was seriously one of those chance-in-a-lifetime opportunities that I never imagined would come my way.

I was an "old" senior in college - I'd mostly worked my way though part-time and was finishing my last year, as required, with full-time status, which qualified me to apply for the Francis L. Phillips Travel Scholarship from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I was seriously contemplating how to take my daughter on the trip. The marriage between my daughter's father and me was unraveling, and our therapist advised us it would be one of the best gifts I could give, to both my daughter and her father, if I took this trip alone. It would give them a chance to bond without me "in the way". I would teach her that it was okay to be a strong, independent woman pursuing her dreams. And we would have a "trial separation" without the stigma of an actual separation.

So, a few days after her 3rd birthday, I boarded a plane and headed to England. And I cried and cried and cried. And I've never been so homesick in my entire life.

Oh, I managed to have an amazing trip. I know in hindsight it was the right thing to do - the therapist was right about the benefits for my daughter and her father, even if it didn't help the marriage much. But there were moments when I ached for my little girl so badly I thought I'd die.

And those were the moments I most often picked up my journals. And silly me, Sunday night, less than 24 hours before my daughter crossed that vast Atlantic Ocean for the first time, I picked up those journals again.

And I cried and cried and cried. And I couldn't sleep. So I just read more of the journals. And I thought about all of that silliness I'd written on hubpages, about approaching an empty nest.

To be clear, I try to be a positive thinker, so I have not really let "worry" into my thoughts. I'm not dwelling on things like airplane crashes or international child slavery or the fact that I'm so freaking broke that if there was an emergency I have no idea how I'd get to France to help my little girl. No, I'm not worried. Really, I'm not.

I'm just irrationally emotional.

I'm better today - better enough to finally get some of this stuff on paper (well, computer hard disk space...internet never-never-land...you know what I mean).

I'll make sure to link to this hub from the previous hub, and Mom's everywhere, take heart. You can prepare yourself all you want. You can use logic and make big plans and pat yourself on the back for what a fine job you did parenting your kids. But when they start stepping out on their own into the big, bad world, get ready for that insane, overwhelming, awe-inspiring, incapacitating, and inexplicable feeling of being hopelessly, helplessly, in love.

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JSwanson profile image

JSwanson 7 years ago

What an amazing hub. Our last son graduates in less than 2 weeks. We do have a lot of plans but my God what am I really going to do with myself.


DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 7 years ago from Central North Carolina

Bless your heart. I love you, Mama.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Oh, Jenny, you're probably gonna cry a lot :-) But it's not really a bad cry, if you know what I mean. I have a dear friend who taught me that crying is good - I still try to resist it too much, but us mom's deserve to cry for our kids :-) Congrats to your son!

JDove-Miller profile image

JDove-Miller 7 years ago from YOUNGSVILLE

Beautiful, Dineane! I don't have kids, but your writing made me want to ask my mother how she felt as each of her four children moved away from home. I'll do that on Saturday.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks, Mama - I know I already said that but don't know what happened to the comment!

And, Thank You, Jackie - maybe you can interview your mom for a hub! I'm becoming more and more curious to hear other mom's stories about this time of life - it's a roller coaster for me!

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

dineane, I can empathize as I remember how I felt when my daughter went to spend summers with her dad in the Caribbean.  I would be driving back from the airport and have to pull over because I was crying so hard, I could hardly see the road. Sad!

She is now grown and though I hang onto her after high school, she is moving away in the Fall to attend graduate school.  I know that I'll be a basket case.  She knows as well as she keeps re-asuring me that she'll be ok and I don't have to worry, but I will.  One ray of hope is her 6 year old brother will keep me distracted some.

Your story parallels mine somewhat, in that I left my daughter with her dad to study abroad when she was three years old.  I had many sleepless nights, especially after watching movies with kids, that was difficult for me.  I've made some midnight calls, just to be re-asured that she was ok.

You hang in there.  You have done well to raise an independent daughter who has the confidence to be venturing out on her own.  Girl, you done good!!!

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you, DynamicS, I appreciate your comments. I know what you mean about the movies with kids - anything with kids would set me off - or visiting attractions that I knew she would love. and you are right, of course, I am proud that she is independent and confident and that she made this trip happen!

Army Infantry Mom profile image

Army Infantry Mom 7 years ago

Its tough Dineane, being a mom. I only had one leave the nest so far, he went to Afghanistan,..it is scarry being so far away. I thought my God if he gets hurt, Im not gonna be there for him,..But a year later, he is now on a flight home, safe and in one piece. I am sure she will be allright, amazing how well they can take care of themselves.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks, AI Mom! I'm sure she will be more than fine, even if they don't find her luggage - what a story, right? Now I'd really be a basket case if she was in Afghanistan! Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your reunion!

RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

I remember when I went off to college. It about tore my mother up because I was the last. For the first time in forty years she was with no children.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

<hugs> it sounds as if you've given your daughter what I want to give Isaac - roots and wings.

TheMindlessBrute profile image

TheMindlessBrute 7 years ago from Orlando,Florida

I enjoyed this hub and if I may chime in with this father's perspective,I will be broken when my nest is empty,especially when my baby girl flies away from it.For now i am happy,even when she rolls her eyes at me and tells me how many days(she's counting) she has left until I can't tell her what to do anymore.I remember her first day of kindergarten,when my little flower was so excited to begin that she ran into the classroom and forgot to give me a hug.The hug was waiting for me when she found her way back home and so will yours.I just hope to get a few phone calls now and again,in the space in between after she runs off in excitement towards the school of life.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks, LG - be careful what you wish for - those wings are painful! LOL.

TMB - thanks for a dad's perspective here! I will probably get more of those phone calls - or at least text messages - after she leaves home for good. I'm trying to prepare myself not to hear much while she's in France, but I'm still hoping!

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

I don't think mothers are ever ready for their babies to fly the nest. Hang in there dineane, I'm sure she's enjoying the whole new experience of being away from home. :)

Ashley Joy profile image

Ashley Joy 7 years ago

My daughter graduated from high school last month and will be off to college this fall. I have heard getting a dog helps, I am considering this, maybe you should too.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks, Feline & Ashley - I'm sure she's having a blast. My husband wants to get a dog...but I'm happy with my cat :-)

lrohner profile image

lrohner 7 years ago from USA

With one of my babies all college graduated and married (and expecting twins next month!) and two attending college out-of-state, I believe I can speak with some authority here. The only thing worse than when they leave is when they come to the realization that living with Mom wasn't SO bad after all and they come back!

Ashley Joy -- The dog thing does work. That's why I now have 3 of them! :)

C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 7 years ago from NW Indiana

Babble on ...it's your right as a Mother who has managed to get your daughter this far, Best Regards!

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

LOL, Irohner - my instinct tells me you are right and that's probably one of the reasons I'm planning to move away! Her dad might not be so lucky since he will still be 'local' :-)

Thanks, C.S. - I'm pretty good at babble!

Camille has finally made an appearance on facebook. It was great to have at least that little bit of contact, but I'm still hoping for a phone call!

Iðunn 7 years ago

I'm fairly recently empty nested myself. Great hub, I can relate.

Innovator820 profile image

Innovator820 7 years ago from Back After Being Lost For A Year!

What a touching hub. I can totally relate because my 18 year old is moving out in about 6 weeks. It was painfully hard for me when the 22 year old left 4 years ago to college and I still haven't fully adjusted/accepted it. It's like I want her to be independent, but at the same time I want her to need me. It's all part of the cycle of the life and now I can relate to how my mom must have felt when I left the "nest".

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

I & I - Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments. It's hard stuff, huh?

TandT 7 years ago

I am not yet a mother but, I have plenty of nieces and nephews! Just a few days ago one of my neice who just graduated from high school called and told me that,she was thinking about joining the navy.When she was just a baby(and,I was still pretty young)there was a situation where her mom had to tos her into my arms.Every since that day, she was my baby forever!!After she told me her plans I had to go into the bathroom and just weep.She's not a baby anymore!My niece tells me eveything before she tells her mom anything.It's only because we're close and, she knows that "Auntie" won't tell her wrong.I cried when she told me of her first encounter with a young man( Now ,that was hard!!!)As long as we as parents,aunts,grandparents, etc instill morals and values they will be alright.We mut love and,teach them while they're young.(Spare the rod that spoils the child)I'm sure you did a wonderful job raising your baby to blossom into the woman she is today and, she's got God and her mom to thank. Stay encouraged my dear and all will be right. God Bless You

Watkins Lady profile image

Watkins Lady 7 years ago

Nothing can prepare you for the "Quietness" that invades your home when the kids grow up and move away. Wonderful hub!

dineane profile image

dineane 6 years ago from North Carolina Author

She's off to college this week. And here I sit with tears rolling again. Tears of pride, and lots of 'what ifs' thrown in.

whitney 5 years ago

just put my girl on a plane for California this morning to start life on her own - she's headed to a community college out there. I haven't been able to sleep. I'm a weepy mess! She left one of her pashmina's here and I'm wrapped up in it like it's a hug from her, taking in the smell of her! I knew I'd be emotional, but this is disconcerting!!! Thank you for this post. I don't feel like the only one. P.S. When does it subside? ;)

Bkaw1 5 years ago

My son, and only child, will be moving into his own place in a few weeks. In addition, my husband accepted a new position at his company that requires a lot of travel. If you had asked me a year ago what I thought about this scenario, I would have asked, "Where do I sign up?" I have a great relationship with my son and, while I'm so happy and excited for him, I have been surprised at how emotional I have been anticipating the change. I will miss him terribly. Thank you for validating my feelings! Now I know I'm not crazy - and certainly not alone. :)

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