Can't get over the empty nest feeling

(68 Posts)
sayerville Tue 30-Aug-16 09:26:10

It's about time I pulled myself together.
DD about to enter year 3, leaves today and already I feel myself getting emotional.
I suppose it's my own fault for gearing my whole life around her, and now I feel bereft again.
I have hated my 'new' life, it's like someone turned off the lights when she's not here.
Could be it coincided with losing my Mum and Dad prior to that, so much loss in such a short time must have an effect. I just still feel so lost and lonely.

OP’s posts: |
jeanne16 Tue 30-Aug-16 16:43:04

I don't have any advice I'm afraid except to offer my sympathies. I am also quite bereft without my DD. She graduated last year and has been fortunate to find a well paid graduate job. She is renting a house with friends. While I am thrilled for her, it does mean she no longer comes home for holidays. I do see her every few weeks for lunch or a coffee but it is still hard. My friends, whose children are back living at home as they can't afford anything else, think I am being ridiculous so I can't even discuss it with anyone. I feel completely redundant.

Solasum Tue 30-Aug-16 16:46:59

Just wanted to say that having seen my mum about 3 times a year in my early 20s (though talking about once a week) now I have had DS we are really close again. Hang on in there!

bojorojo Tue 30-Aug-16 17:40:32

jeanne16 - you are absoutely not reduendant.

My children left for boarding school at 11. Not far away, but they had empty beds at home for a few weeks at a time! I know that this was the best thing for them to do and university was also the best thing for them to do too!

One is just about to move further away from home and I know I am going to see her less. However, I am well aware there will be phone calls and chats when the need arises. She will be working very hard and I do not expect her to contact me all the time and it will probably be with good news - she can internalise bad news until it all builds up into a big problem! I am hoping that does not arise. DD has now been away six years, initially at university which included a year abroad, and more recently living and studying in London. She says she is 80% excited about her job and 20% nervous. I still appear to have a role to listen as it is a very stimulating and challenging time for her.

You really will not be redundant either. Be a sounding board, arrange to meet up, take an interest in what she is doing, go shopping with her, have a laugh together - there are lots of ways to stay in touch but you just don't make her bed every day, act as a taxi service, and feed her!

sayerville Tue 30-Aug-16 18:19:41

I feel redundant too, but good advice here thank you.
Hoping one day that we will be closer. My biggest fear is her travelling (which she says she will do for one year) liking a far flung place and staying there and me missing out (if I were fortunate enough) on being a GP.
But I am being selfish, she has her life to lead and I just want her to be happy really, much as I want her in my life more it's her choice.
Someone once said 'ships were meant to sail' and it's right. I'm just sad.

OP’s posts: |
ssd Tue 30-Aug-16 18:21:38

I hear you, I really do.

sayerville Tue 30-Aug-16 20:04:39

I thought that I'd get used to it. I wished I had had more kids, just the one means I dote on her, my whole life/job has been geared around her and now it's like I am not needed any more (apart from money/when something is wrong). I think it also magnifies my home life which I am too weak to do anything about so have stuck here.
I feel such an idiot, everyone else I know kinda rejoices they have their freedom and more time with their partner, I just want my old life back.

OP’s posts: |


bevelino Tue 30-Aug-16 20:46:37

OP I feel for you and I am dreading my dd leaving for university shortly. However, your dd is at uni and you can see each other whenever you want. She will be home in the holidays; and in my case my dd will be bickering with her sisters and creating a huge mess around the house. The young graduates I recruit in my office all say that when they left home for good to rent with friends that was a much bigger deal.

sayerville Tue 30-Aug-16 20:53:37

Yes, I thought that leaving for uni was bad enough, I only have one more year of this, after this who knows, she barely comes home these days, she and her Dad bicker and argue so she avoids him and I resent him for this, kind of keeping her away. We wassap a lot and I work FT and feel like I am intruding on her life to visit at weekends, she has a bf and her own life. She doesn't need me around any more.
She tells me I should get my own life, be selfish except after 20 years I seem to have forgotten how to do this any more!

OP’s posts: |
bevelino Tue 30-Aug-16 21:08:30

I have 4 lovely girls and we are a close family despite the bickering. I am very close to eldest dd as she has 3 sisters who are triplets and they have a connection with each other that is different to the one they have with their older sister and me. That said, dd and I are ready to let go as we know that life goes on and she wants to do her best and needs me to support her in all that she does. Even though your dd is making a life for herself away from you, the space will allow you to think about yourself. I have all sorts of projects planned while my dd is away including getting fit, sorting out the house, going out more with dh and my own friends. The list is endless.

ssd Tue 30-Aug-16 23:03:19

I dont have a list at all, I'm like the op, I've forgotten what I like, outside the dc's.

What I like is making sure they;re ok, making them a good dinner they enjoy instead of takeaway crap, making sure they are happy at school etc etc, keeping their stuff clean and ironed and seeing them go out the door confident and happy

thats all I want, really

when thats all done I dont know what I'll do with myself either

bojorojo Wed 31-Aug-16 01:37:48

Here are some ideas: volunteer (I am a school governor), get involved in clubs, (I do photography, archaeology and a discussion group), go to keep fit classes (the gym is too solitary for me), revamp the garden, decorate, see friends you don't see very often, visit places you have always wanted to visit, get a qualification, read books, fund out who you really are - put together your family tree, do a wine tasting course - the list is endless.

For years I got my DDs ready for school at the beginning of term but it was not a daily event so I started to do other things. If I am honest, the daily grind of getting them to and from school when they were younger was not floating my boat but had to be done. It is possible to rediscover what else you can do and enjoy it.

Phaedra11 Wed 31-Aug-16 07:51:21

It is painful isn't it, when they find their wings even though that's what we most want for them? And you had the loss of your parents to deal with too. So intense loss and upheaval. Now you think it's time to move on but emotionally still feel stuck.

I would recommend finding a good psychotherapist/ counsellor and talking about what's going on (and not going on) in your life.

sayerville Wed 31-Aug-16 08:22:41

It is painful, like you say you want them to be happy.
I try not to let her know all this, if I cry I tell her I'm missing my parents which is true but I did say once tell her I had a fear of her not being in my life so much, she said she has to live her own life and me mine - which is true.

I feel emotionally paralysed. I have good days and bad when my Dad had passed and my Mum was in the latter stages of her dementia and DD left for uni I went to see a counsellor through my GP. I cried the whole hour just sobbing, it really didn't help though I'd be open to seeing someone else, trouble is there is a long waiting list at GP. I also have a health condition where I am regularly exhausted, ache, feel poorly though I have done a lot of self help and research, and hope to feel better soon except it is a lifelong condition but I hope to manage it better.

OP’s posts: |
Phaedra11 Wed 31-Aug-16 09:57:47

Would a private counsellor or psychotherapist be an option for you, sayerville

That might give you more freedom to find someone that was right for you. I found counselling very helpful once I found the right counsellor. Like you I was doing a lot of self-help but was amazed at how much further I could go with this with the support of my counsellor.

RhodaBull Wed 31-Aug-16 15:53:32


I notice a lot of oneupmanship regarding nest fleeing - perhaps because I'm heading in that direction myself. A neighbour smugly told me how wonderful it was that all three of her dcs lived within a mile and she could see the grandchildren every day. The next-door-neighbour's dd has emigrated to Australia and the man next door said it had broken his heart. Bil and sil regularly mention that they have a "full house" and "it's chaos here!"

I know there is nothing certain in life except change, but we all have phases of life that we enjoy and feel comfortable with, and other phases that are blah or downright crap. And in the modern age many of us have made friends of our dcs and aren't just parents, so it is a double loss when children move on. Weep!

Canyouforgiveher Wed 31-Aug-16 15:59:34

My local paper in the US has printed this every year since 2006 at this time of year (back to college time). It sums it up for me.

"I wasn't wrong about their leaving. My husband kept telling me I was. That it wasn't the end of the world when first one child, then another , and then the last packed their bags and left for college.

But it was the end of something. ``Can you pick me up, Mom?" ``What's for dinner?" ``What do you think?"

I was the sun and they were the planets. And there was life on those planets, whirling, non stop plans and parties and friends coming and going, and ideas and dreams and the phone ringing and doors slamming.

And I got to beam down on them. To watch. To glow.

And then they were gone, one after the other.

``They'll be back," my husband said. And he was right. They came back. But he was wrong, too, because they came back for intervals -- not for always, not planets anymore, making their predictable orbits, but unpredictable, like shooting stars.

Always is what you miss. Always knowing where they are. At school. At play practice. At a ballgame. At a friend's. Always looking at the clock mid day and anticipating the door opening, the sigh, the smile, the laugh, the shrug. ``How was school?" answered for years in too much detail. ``And then he said . . . and then I said to him. . . ." Then hardly answered at all.

Always, knowing his friends.

Her favorite show.

What he had for breakfast.

What she wore to school.

What he thinks.

How she feels.

My friend Beth's twin girls left for Roger Williams yesterday. They are her fourth and fifth children. She's been down this road three times before. You'd think it would get easier.

``I don't know what I'm going to do without them," she has said every day for months.

And I have said nothing, because, really, what is there to say?

A chapter ends. Another chapter begins. One door closes and another door opens. The best thing a parent can give their child is wings. I read all these things when my children left home and thought then what I think now: What do these words mean?

Eighteen years isn't a chapter in anyone's life. It's a whole book, and that book is ending and what comes next is connected to, but different from, everything that has gone before.

Before was an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager. Before was feeding and changing and teaching and comforting and guiding and disciplining, everything hands -on. Now?

Now the kids are young adults and on their own and the parents are on the periphery, and it's not just a chapter change. It's a sea change.

As for a door closing? Would that you could close a door and forget for even a minute your children and your love for them and your fear for them, too. And would that they occupied just a single room in your head. But they're in every room in your head and in your heart.

As for the wings analogy? It's sweet. But children are not birds. Parents don't let them go and build another nest and have all new offspring next year.

Saying goodbye to your children and their childhood is much harder than all the pithy sayings make it seem. Because that's what going to college is. It's goodbye.

It's not a death. And it's not a tragedy.

But it's not nothing, either.

To grow a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It rejects food it used to like. It expands and it adapts.

To let go of a child, a body changes, too. It sighs and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.

The drive home alone without them is the worst. And the first few days. But then it gets better. The kids call, come home, bring their friends, fill the house with their energy again.

Life does go on.

``Can you give me a ride to the mall?" ``Mom, make him stop!" I don't miss this part of parenting, playing chauffeur and referee. But I miss them, still, all these years later, the children they were, at the dinner table, beside me on the couch, talking on the phone, sleeping in their rooms, safe, home, mine."

sayerville Wed 31-Aug-16 16:18:53

Oh God! That has made me weep again, how true it all is, the last line -safe, home, mine. I constantly worry about her safety.
It's the not having them close and knowing them so well then it all ends and you are left standing, for me it's personally like a light switch been flicked off she's not here. I feel so alone, we are good friends maybe cos she's an only child and my DH doesn't have the same relationship (anything but) and boy do I feel it. It's not getting better, it's different from before and I want before back, I know I can't have it but I am finding it hard to deal with.
Sorry if I sound pathetic, but that's what I am right now.

OP’s posts: |
ssd Wed 31-Aug-16 17:23:20

canyouforgiveher, thats so spot on

ssd Wed 31-Aug-16 17:24:00

you're not pathetic at all sayerville thanks

Leeds2 Wed 31-Aug-16 22:43:05

sayerville, I know exactly how you feel.

Phaedra11 Thu 01-Sep-16 08:03:04

I've just been reading this mumsnetter's blog:

WillowinGloves Sun 04-Sep-16 18:02:46

Sayerville I know how you feel too. Or I'm about to! My feeling is that you are absolutely right about the loss of your parents dovetailing with the 'loss' of your DD - you are associating the two and it makes it all worse. I hope you can find some counselling. I also know what it's like to live with a health condition that leaves you exhausted and it makes it much harder to deal with anything else. In practical terms, you may be too tired to try all those new things that are supposed to make you feel better, but also when you are feeling ill, it is hard to summon up the emotional energy needed to deal with big life changes. If you are looking for new things, though, I wondered if maybe you could try something that involves nurturing - it is that part of you that is going spare now. Maybe at some point you'll be ready to try something that is about you, learning new skills etc, which people always recommend. But maybe going into the local school to help with reading, or some other thing that involves using the caring skills you have no home for now would be a better transition from your role as hands-on parent. This is advice I should take myself maybe ...

Powergower Wed 07-Sep-16 08:35:52

Canyou your post has moved me to tears. I'm a few years off from waving goodbye to mine but I remember how vividly the loss was felt in my home when my first signing went off to uni. The dynamics of the house shifted and there was a real sense if loss and change which never righted itself.

BeJayKayven Fri 09-Sep-16 10:33:32

Today is the day. My eyes won't stop leaking.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in