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The Other Empty Nest Syndrome

Updated on August 21, 2012

Being a Mommy

Being a stay at home mom has always been something that I wanted to do. I wanted to play with my little ones. I wanted to take long walks with them and point out the beauty of the world. I wanted to bake for them, read to them, teach them their numbers, play at the park, and do all of those other little things daily that made those five little years at home with me so precious.

I did get my dream. I was able to stay home with all of my kids through their formative years. We played, we baked, we laughed, we read, we counted, we put puzzles together, we played millions of games, and we had fun (or at least I did).

Sadly, my last little one is starting Kindergarten soon. Too soon, in my opinion, but not too soon for him. He is ready. I am not. Ugh.

Now what?????

With no little child at home all day with me, I sit here and wonder, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW?????

There are many things I have to do, like laundry, shopping, paying bills, cleaning, baking, cooking, filling out a million forms for school, shuttling them to and from activities, etc..., so I know there are things I have to do. What I mean is, how am I going to identify myself now? I have been a stay at home mom for so many years. I stopped working outside of the house to care for my kids. For the last decade I have been at home with various ages of little ones, with my life revolving around them 24/7, with an occasional adult event thrown in here and there. I have been their whole world for those five years and it rocked!!

For the last decade plus there has always been someone with me to hang with, to go to the park with, to eat my baking experiments, drive to and from preschool and playdates, to cart with me to volunteer at school, and to hold my hand when I cross the street. Now I feel like I have to re-learn to cross the street by myself. It is kind of scary.

I know a lot of your are laughing, saying things like: you can finally sleep, shop, eat, exercise, get a job, enjoy the QUIET, finish a thought, etc.... I will. I do have a job lined up, but this is more than just going back to work. I feel like I need to re-evaluate my whole life. Not unlike the Empty Nest Syndrome parents experience when all of their kids go off to college, I feel like all my little ones are flying off leaving me here alone, and I need to find something to define myself anew.

This will be the first child I send off to Kindergarten without having a baby at home or being pregnant. This is it. There are no more new children popping into our lives. We are done. While I am good with that (I really hate sippy cups and potty training), it is the finality of it that has hit me. There will be no more first day of Kindergarten for me. This is the last child that I prep for school. The last time I put one on a bus for the first time.

Firsts are always so important in our lives, but sometimes, it is those lasts that hit us the hardest. We put so much focus on the first of everything, that we sometimes forget that those lasts can tug at our hearts as well. That first time on the bus for him will be the last time I put a child on the bus to Kindergarten. It is a huge milestone for him, but also for me as well.

I know this is very different from sending them off to college - mine will come back at the end of the day (with homework, notes, gummy lunchboxes, sticky water bottles, ripped folders, etc...), but I still feel melancholy. In my mind's eye, I see my life as a notebook. The left side of it is messy, filled with sticky notes, highlighted with comments, written in, pages falling out, and very, very well worn. In other words, filled with a lifetime of notes and memories. On the flip side, the right side of the notebook looks clean and pristine. The pages have yet to be opened. It is not yet written. I stare at it now knowing that I will define the next pages. I will decide what gets put in there.

Of course, there will still be messy pages filled up with memories of the kids; they are not completely leaving me yet. But still........ I get to decide a lot more of what happens to me now. Or at least I feel that way.

It is not just that there will be more free time that I will have to fill up. It is that as they get older and reach new and wonderful milestones, I get older too. Mortality is staring me in the face and laughing!! My milestones, though, are not as often and not as amazing as theirs. They are growing and learning and becoming the person who they are supposed to become. I, am already supposed to be the person I am destined to be. I can still change and grow, we all do, it is inevitable But, I have completed a lot of my bucket list already. I have visited the Pyramids in Egypt. I have traveled Europe. I have been to Monaco (that was awesome!). I plowed through that list even before the kids arrived.

I guess I can always add to that list. The possibilities are endless. Now, the cool part, is that I can include them as part of my list and share all of that with them. Seeing everything through their eyes will be more amazing than it was the first time through my eyes.

As I grow, the kids grow too. As I gain a year every birthday, so do they. They will never be little again. At some point in life, they will be too big to sit on my lap while I read to them. At some point, they will all learn to read and no one will want a book read aloud. Some of them are already taller than I am with bigger feet. They are growing. Their lives will take them away from me toward their destiny. Kindergarten is just the beginning. It is the first stop on the bus ride of their lives.

My friends are all laughing at me right now. They think I have finally lost my last marble. They are all jumping up and down with laughter that their little ones are gone all day. They are counting down the minutes til school starts.

I, on the other hand, am dreading them. I want to hang on to summer a little bit longer. I want to spend a little more time with my babies. I want to hold their little hands a few more times before I put them on that yellow school bus that takes them to all of the new stops in their life. All of the stops the might not necessarily include me.

It will all be ok. They will grow. They will spread their wings. They will learn new things. They. Will. Be. Fine.

So will I......I hope.


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