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Empty Nest. Mixed emotions.

(21 Posts)
HuskyLover1 Wed 05-Oct-16 21:55:26

My DD left for Uni, which is some 2.5 hours away, about a month ago. My DS went last year (so he's just started his 2nd year).

My emotions are so mixed! One day I feel joyous that the house is so tidy, I have no school runs, I have a loaf of bread and a pint of milk for longer than a day, the wash basket is no longer over flowing....you get the gist.

But other days, I wonder how the hell I am going to bed at night, with no fucking clue where my children are.

They never contact me first (I know this is the norm), however, we are in regular contact, via text and facebook messaging.

It just seems so weird to me, that 15 months ago, they were both at home, I was cooking for 4, ferrying them about, seeing them daily etc....and now it's like a tumble weed moment! I feel like if something happened to them, I would have no info to offer. I don't know their new friends, their whereabouts, whether they get home safe.....

Don't know what I'm asking really. I feel a bit neglectful that I don't know these things (like a bad Mum), but how could I know, without being overly suffocating. I can hardly ask them daily where they are going and who with.

Sorry this is a bit of a ramble.

Did anyone else find this phase confusing? How long does it last?

I don't feel like I have anyone in RL to share this with, as I had my children much earlier than my friends (so their children are all still at home), my DH is not their real Dad, and their real Dad and I don't speak.

BeyonceRiRiMadonnna Wed 05-Oct-16 22:17:42

Oh Husky I know how you feel (I've only got my 15 year old left at home, so 3 more years before he's off too).

It is confusing and does take a bit of getting used to. I'd like to think of myself as independent, strong etc. but MY babies leaving home malarkey really makes me feel sad/happy/confused/lonely. I try to keep myself distracted, I'm trying to enjoy the new found freedom, I've discovered I enjoy hiking/walks. I've also started going away on holiday during term time, YAAAAAYYYY!

Both will only contact me if they need anything, usually money. My older one will sometimes call after a very bad exam or class, that makes me feel special when he does that, hahaha! Start doing all the things you were unable to do when they were young. I had my boys at 20/27, I'm now 42, so when I hit 45 I'll be "childless", meanwhile my friends have 5 year olds, or mostly under 10's!

DarklyDreamingDexter Wed 05-Oct-16 22:19:22

Enjoy your new found freedom! Enjoy doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, with no restrictions. Go where you want to go!

Content yourself with the thought that they'll be home at Christmas with a big pile of washing for you and normal service will be resumed!

Itsnotmyfault1 Wed 05-Oct-16 22:32:50

I'm about to start this new phase of life! I'm encouraging DD1, who is such a lovely, caring and fun DD, visiting unis with her etc, but all the while knowing I'll miss her terribly!
It's so hard, but I try to console myself that this is going to be amazing for her. I too worry about not knowing she gets home safe etc but I have to accept she's becoming an adult.
Us mums must make the most of the holidays!

ImperialBlether Wed 05-Oct-16 22:37:55

One advantage of them not contacting you is that they're not asking for money!

When they come home, ask them to show you photos of the people they live with and mix with - that'll make it seem much more real. Do you know what the modules are that they're studying? I found that really helped to understand what they'd be doing and when.

Generally, though, if you don't hear from them, everything's okay. It's very hard to go from seeing them every day to an occasional message, I know. Try to find a particular time in the week when they're free and alone (with my son it's when he's walking home in the evening) and suggest they call then. I'm sorry but it's more likely they'll call if they haven't anything better to do!

Oh and always sound upbeat and happy.

Greenandmighty Wed 05-Oct-16 22:40:29

Oh I'm with you totally Husky. My ds started 2nd year. Part of me was looking forward to the easier wash load etc as you mention but there's a particular poignancy about them being away from us. I have my dd at home doing A levels and she'll be off next year! I think it's entirely natural to feel a great loss. After all, it's like a new chapter in our lives. Our lives were so entwined with theirs when they're little. But we have to make the most of the freedom - throw ourselves into jobs, hobbies etc and then really enjoy their company when they come home. I find we communicate better when ds comes home as he's making new discoveries and friends at uni.

HuskyLover1 Thu 06-Oct-16 08:17:38

Thanks so much for replies.

I've also started going away on holiday during term time, YAAAAAYYYY!

^^ This, I am REALLY looking forward to! DH and I are thinking we can go somewhere that when paying for 4 was out of reach, but now only paying for 2, is within reach, like Mexico.

I had my boys at 20/27, I'm now 42, so when I hit 45 I'll be "childless", meanwhile my friends have 5 year olds, or mostly under 10's!

Very similar here. I am the youngest of my friends, yet my kids have left but they all still have children at home. Some of our friends started their families really late, and even though they are our age, they have toddlers! I am 46 and DH is 43. So, absolutely nobody IRL to talk to about this!

I have my dd at home doing A levels and she'll be off next year!

My son went one year before my daughter. Still having DD at home, it didn't feel nearly as bad as when she left, as I was still in that whole Mum routine. Now she's gone as well, it's just weird.

I'm having a "good" day today though. :-)

MatildaTheCat Thu 06-Oct-16 08:54:35

IT gets better. That's it really. Soon they are back for weeks or months at a time and you will tut about how short the uni year is. It hurts like hell at first but you get used to it then there is another new stage.

I'm another one who had kids relatively young so at 50 have two DC post uni, post postgrad and out at work with serious girlfriends. Blimey, how did that happen? grin

It is odd being out of sync with my friends though.

We got a dog to fill the gap and offer a new form of annoyance and worry.

MorrisZapp Thu 06-Oct-16 09:03:12

I find these threads odd to read. I went to uni back in 1989 and obviously mobile phones and social media were unheard of. I don't remember phoning home much at all. I didn't come home til Christmas, and only for a few days.

I don't think my mum noticed??? If she did I'm barely aware of it. She turned my room into a generic spare room immediately. We do have a good relationship, I think she was just interested in other stuff.

Not sure what point I'm making. I know she loves me dearly, but I don't think she was up nor down about me leaving home.

HuskyLover1 Thu 06-Oct-16 09:04:00

Soon they are back for weeks or months at a time and you will tut about how short the uni year is

It hasn't panned out that way with DS. sad He rents a flat with 4 others and still stays there when Uni term is over, because he works nearby in the holidays. Not sure what will happen with DD, as she is in Uni accommodation at the mo.

mrssnodge Thu 06-Oct-16 09:06:09

Don't worry, enjoy the peace- you will get used to it- I'm 49, with a 31, 28 and a 23 yr old, all left home, but they do live with 15 mins drive away- I also have a 3 yr old DGS & 3 yr old DGD!
Also have 2 SDD, 17 and 21, and one of those has 2 dc too!
Mon to Fri its just me and DP,- with time to ourselves after work etc- but on weekends its chaos as they all visit!!!
I also have to visit DM & DF,- separately as they divorced yrs ago- and seriously cant fit it all in- never have time to feel like its an empty nest!

electricflyzapper Thu 06-Oct-16 09:15:13

Morris, maybe your mum hid her feelings well? I don't recall my mum expressing any sadness when I sent off to uni, the youngest of 3, but I do recall her ringing me once - it has stayed in my mind as we were never that close - and telling me that my dad was away for a few nights and for the first time in about 25 years she was totally alone at night. She was a professional woman, extremely independent and capable, but that moment of realisation obviously made her feel lonely and strange.

Anyway, I am completely different to her. I have 4 children, 2 of whom are at uni. The second one only started last weekend and I am still missing him dreadfully. Even with 2 children still at home, my life feels very different now. It is such a huge adjustment to make.

user1469693312 Thu 06-Oct-16 10:23:48

My eldest is in the forces, middle son just started uni and youngest just gone away to college (aged 16) - their dad and I split up last year but are still good friends and i would love to move on, find a new partner and start my 'empty nest' life but i''m hampered by 2 old dogs and an old cat who have to be kept company every evening and sorted out regularly with walks etc. I've potentially got another 3-4 years of this by which time I suppose the children will all be back again :-)

ocelot7 Thu 06-Oct-16 12:46:15

User1469 I was a single parent when empty-nested and it was tough coming home to an empty house even having noticed I had to buy so little food suddenly... But it was also eventually the push to get me out dating as it had been to easy to do nothing in that regard while I still had offspring living with me...
Now I have the flexibility to spend time at my bf's house - who still has kids at home & a dog... It doesn't take that long to get to the fun staying in stage smile & he's a domestic god though we still go out enough too - dog can manage a few hours alone...maybe yr friendly ex can help care for the family pets sometimes too?

Zaphodsotherhead Thu 06-Oct-16 13:17:50

I'm another single parent with a newly empty nest - DD1 finally moved out in May. I reasoned that I'd spent 27 years being a parent, so now it was my time to have a bit of time for myself. I work, but keeping the house up single handed is expensive, so there's not much money to treat myself, but I often use my days off work as a 'mini holiday' and spoil myself with lie ins and books and just lollygagging about.

You will get used to it. I now find it awkward when one of the Uni crew comes home for a holiday - I fret about things being left lying about or food disappearing..I love seeing them, but can't wait for them to go away again!

Get some good books, a nice warm blanket and embrace some alone time!

ocelot7 Thu 06-Oct-16 13:40:35

I never knew the word for it before but I love lollygagging about too smile

btw - it did take years to get to where I am now but being busy having fun & latterly the bf has helped a lot to get over ENS smile

Zaphodsotherhead Thu 06-Oct-16 14:20:23

It is a great word, isn't it ocelot?

ocelot7 Thu 06-Oct-16 14:35:41

Indeed it is Zaphod smile

It took me the longest time to value time alone but now its a treat I love it! A good skill to have too.

user1469693312 Fri 07-Oct-16 10:22:41

Thanks Ocelot7 - my friendly ex would definitely help out with animals - hes been there every day this week to take them out in the afternoon - but its a bit like not being able to go out without arranging a babysitter! My parents will have them too but OMG the questions - where are you going? who are you seeing? will you be home tonight? it will be like being a teenager again wink

I guess - if I'm really honest - I dont want to start dating again just yet - I'd like to enjoy more often the benefits of cleaning the house, going out and coming back to find it still clean and tidy smile - and coming downstairs in the morning and its still clean then too!!

1950swoman Fri 07-Oct-16 12:51:33

I'm suffering a renewed bout of this and i'd say it's like that mantra about parental worrying never going away, it just changes. I had my children late so I've got twins of 25 and one of 30, all DDs. The twins going to university was pretty devastating even though they'd done their gap year stuff. DH was away and after delivering no.2 I had to come back to an empty house for two weeks. I have never felt so lonely. It got better over the 3/4 years of uni, at first no contact, then quite a lot, then much less in their final years. We were allowed to be friends on Facebook as long as we followed etiquette and never commented or posted. DH nearly got unfriended for breaking that rule early on.

Oldest DD never returned home and was pretty estranged for much of her 20s, now living 200 miles away but is in touch 2/3 times most weeks by the text and phone. One twin came home for a year (bliss), then moved out to be with friends. Other twin got job 50 miles away, both pretty good at being in touch. BUT, now they've gone off travelling together heading ultimately for New Zealand, pushed by a sense of adventure and Brexit, with sad hints they might stay if jobs and lifestyle suit. I feel I can only be supportive but I'm howling inside and thrust right back to those early moments of the first gap year trip.

My take on it all is that families are all different, some seem to emphasise looking inward and those have children who settle early, they live near, grandchildren appear and the close knit bonds continue. Others, ours is one of those, where it's all about getting a good education, then seeing the world as your oyster. There's a price to pay and it's quite a learning curve finding out how to be with an adult child. It's quite a shock to realise that they don't actually have to be in contact with you if they don't want to be.
I wish I was younger, at 60 work opportunities are few and far between and I'm having to find new meaning in life which includes some days staring sadly into the middle distance asking what was it all for. I hope this post doesn't sound bossy, it's not meant to be. In response to the OP, I'd say it's a kind of bereavement where you have to be kind to yourself, cry sometimes, try to find what makes you feel good and what you want to do now and work at staying in touch with the kids without too many expectations, easier said than done as I know only too well.smile

HuskyLover1 Fri 07-Oct-16 14:18:03

Don't worry, enjoy the peace Yes, I am actually enjoying that, and the reduced housework/washing and cooking! smile

DD1 finally moved out in May. I reasoned that I'd spent 27 years being a parent, so now it was my time to have a bit of time for myself I am definitely trying to view it that way.

BUT, now they've gone off travelling together heading ultimately for New Zealand, pushed by a sense of adventure and Brexit, with sad hints they might stay if jobs and lifestyle suit. I feel I can only be supportive but I'm howling inside and thrust right back to those early moments of the first gap year trip Oh no! I can completely understand why you'd be worried about this. New Zealand is so far!

I'm having to find new meaning in life which includes some days staring sadly into the middle distance asking what was it all for I totally get what you are saying here! I think I was so very busy, what with working, school runs, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, after school clubs, bla bla bla, and now POOF, there's hardly anything to do! I do work, but I work from home (alone) which probably magnifies the silence.

I don't really feel upset. I'm glad we have got to this stage and that we got through it, iyswim, but some days I'm not sure who I am meant to be. But that makes sense, as for the past 19 years my main role has been Mum. And whilst I still am a Mum, they don't need anything from me on a daily basis anymore.

Sometimes when I read posts from Mum's with toddlers, I do feel thankful that I am at this stage!

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