I always knew that one day my little birdies would fly the coop. But when that day finally came, it hit me harder than I could have imagined. Suddenly, I was an empty nester and I had no idea what to do with myself.
As a single mother, I have always been responsible for everything in my home, from taking care of my children to managing the household. I was always on the go and had something I needed to do and somewhere to be. But now, with no children around, I find myself in an entirely new stage of life, one filled with mixed emotions.
At first, I was thrilled. I hate to admit it but I loved the idea of no more before-school drop-offs or weekend kid-made plans. I could finally have the house to myself and indulge in some much-needed “me time.” But as the days went on, I felt more and more lost. Who was I without my kids? What was I supposed to do with all this free time?
The house was quiet. No more running around, no more screaming, no more messes to clean up (well, at least fewer messes). I didn’t feel ready for this.
I stared at the empty bedrooms, feeling a mix of sadness and nostalgia wash over me. It was like a piece of my heart had gone missing. I missed the chaos and the noise and the constant activity. But most of all, I missed the little moments—the hugs, the giggles, the stories, their mere presence. All those things that make being a parent so magical.
The loneliness felt overwhelming. But as I wallowed in my sadness, something inside me shifted. I realized I had an opportunity to reinvent myself, to discover new passions and interests, and to explore a whole new chapter of my life. I didn’t have to be just a mom anymore; I could be me.
Now that I have more time, I want to discover the activities that make me happy. I’m going to an indoor climbing gym (shoutout to Climbnasium), reading more books, and even trying out new restaurants. I have made a list of things I never had time for, destinations I never had the money to visit, people with whom I had lost touch and now wanted to reconnect. Suddenly, my empty nest doesn’t seem so empty, but rather full of possibilities.
I admit there is still an underlying twinge of sadness. When I see a mother and child walking hand-in-hand or hear children’s laughter, I feel the longing for my own kids.
But I remind myself that they are living their own lives, and that was exactly what I had raised them to do.
I actually worry about them more. I worry about their safety, their health, and their general well-being. It’s hard to let go and trust that they’re capable of taking care of themselves, but I know that it’s a necessary step in their own journey to adulthood. And, of course, I remind myself that I raised them to be strong, independent individuals who can handle anything that comes their way.
There are highs and lows to being an empty nester single mom, but I’m curious to see what this new phase of life brings. I’m rediscovering my own interests, spending more time on self-care, and even planning for my future. It’s scary and exciting at the same time, but I know I’m not alone.
If you’re an established empty nester, please share what helped you early on in your journey.