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Empty Nest Syndrome--What's the Cause, What's the Effects

Updated on May 13, 2010

They Are Gone

    The entire time that my kids were growing up, I kept saying things like, boy, I can't wait until the kids are older and I have some time to myself again. 

     I couldn't remember the last time I was able to read a book from cover to cover, or work on a project like writing, sewing, and all the things that I used to do before I had the little rascals.  When you have kids, they take over your whole life, and I mean every minute of your life.  From the time that my eyes opened until they went to sleep, my time was their time.  It was almost as if I, as an individual person ceased to be, and me the person had integrated somehow into my kids.;  There was not anything that I did that did not have something to do with my kids. 

    I did not realize when I had kids that I would no longer have any time of my own, and that raising kids would take up 99.99% of my time.  I think that the only time that I had to myself was maybe an hour before bed, and  that time I would try to do something for myself, like watch a movie, or read, and what seemed to happen consistently, was that I would begin to do whatever it was, and five or ten minutes into it I would fall asleep.

     All three of my boys left home within a year or so of each other.  Except for a couple of times while they were in college, and found themselves in between roommates, or in between apartments, once they were gone, they were gone.  The two youngest were only 14 months apart in age, and they pretty much stuck together with the college and working their way through it.  They gave each other support, and by this I mean rides, homework help, food shortages, roommate referrals, and anything else that came up that they needed help with.  Dear old mom was not  needed for  much of anything, from money to hot meals.  When they moved out, they were done with needing mom.

     Well, this was like taking me and my life, and turning me upsidedown and insideout.  All my time and hours that I was so used to contributing toward their needs, was no longer needed.  I found myself wandering around the house looking for things to do.  Now don't get me wrong, I did not use this time to keep my house cleaner, or keep my laundry done up, or my kitchen spotless.  This was not what my house was about.  All those things were always put on the back burner, for time needed in other ways.  I became  not just depressed, for that does not really describe how I felt.  I became somewhat depressed, but I found myself sleeping in and watching tv, but not really watching it for I didn't turn the channel to find anything I was interested in.  It just got turned on, and it ran, and I sat and looked at it without paying attention to it.

     I got into a state of mind that wasn't depression, nor could I say boredom, and I was bored, for I no longer had anything to do.  I became detached from everyone around me, I did not want company, and I did not know what I was supposed to be doing anymore.  I could no longer do things like go to the beach, for it reminded me of the time I spent there with the kids playing, and I would only sit there and cry. 

     Cry, yes that is what I did mostly.  I spent a lot of time crying.  I was in a real pickle, for if I called my kids to see what they were up to, they were usually busy and couldn't spend much time talking, and I would end up crying and they just did not understand that, and it made them uncomfortable, and caused them to become even more distant.

     On top of everything else, I was menopause too. so I was having hormonal crying jags, for no reason whatsoever.  All I can say is that my hubby was a saint about it all, for when he would see me crying, he would simply say, something like, oh, having a cry time again huh? Anything I can do.  or, is there a reason you are crying? or is it just that time of day?  He was a real angel through all of it.


Little is What I Miss

Easter and all that sugar
Easter and all that sugar
graduating Head Start
graduating Head Start

games and equipment

Time Heals All

      Well here I am about six or seven years down the road.  My boys are all out of college, one is married, and they are all working in the careers they studied and got degrees in. 

     Looking at them now, they are all grown up, and my kids are just gone.  It is very sad, and on the other hand, I am very happy that they are all doing very well. and are independent, they all have friends, new cars, and looking at some of my friends, who's kids took other roads, and are still living at home, I am glad that my kids succeeded and grew up learning to take care of themselves.  Still, I have to admit that I am a little bit envious that they still have their kids at home with them.  I am not envious that they are still paying their way.

     It has taken me a long time to get over not having them at home with me.  In fact, I do not believe that I am ever going to get over it completely.  I have learned all over again to be independent and find my own interests and projects.  I cannot say that it has been easy, for it has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

     When I first heard of this "Empty Nest Syndrome" I thought to myself that it was nothing to worry about.  I had no idea it would be as devastating as it has been.  If any of you are going through this same thing, I don't know what kind of advice I could share, and for once I am at a loss for anything to help you.  I think that it is a lot harder than anyone ever imagined.  Short of therapy, which I already had plenty of for one lifetime, all I can say is just give it time.  Try to stay in touch, try to do things like Sunday dinners, and most of all try to find yourself again, and find those things that you lost when you had the babies.  All the projects, all the pastimes, everything that you remember doing before you had kids, try to find yourself in those lost memories, for it is the only thing I could find to pull myself through.

     Just rest assured in one thing, and this is that time heals all wounds and hurts eventually.  Time heals, the hurts, the loneliness, the depression, just work your way through it.  Everything will be alright in time.  everything will be alright in time.


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