Tag Archives: Empty Nest Syndrome

role models for teenagers

I can let go now

Here I am, picking up the emotional debris strewn before me when we dropped off our eldest son at Warwick University last Saturday.empty nest syndrome

I have read about this so called ‘loss syndrome’, I have even written about it, but absolutely nothing prepared me for the emotional upheaval I felt as we said our goodbyes last Saturday to our beloved son.

I was warned by friends, each of whom have experienced what has become known as the empty nest syndrome.

I even laughed when one of them in the first few weeks made weekly trips up to the University to drop off supplies and much needed food, ‘you need to let them go’, I rebuked.

I regret even suggesting let alone saying those words, now that I understand the pain and feelings of loss she was going through, and that was over three years ago.

The eldest has now graduated and is working in London the younger daughter headed off to Bristol and she is experiencing the same bitter sweet pain of loss.

‘I now have two empty bedrooms’, she told me.

empty nest syndromeI was not prepared for the visceral wrench the ripping out of the heart and stamp on it feeling.

The wave of complete and utter loss and desolation, I am bereft as the leaves that whisk past me as I walk through the car park.

The feelings I am experiencing of pain and sorrow are akin to grief.

If this is what grief feels like then I am ill prepared to face it.

The past three weeks have been a mixture of frustration, anxiety and ‘can’t wait for him to leave’ such was the buildup of tension, excitement and emotional turmoil.

It felt like there was so much more time to spend with him and yet I find myself wondering did I really do enough?

We should have gone to London like we talked about, and, taken a walk together, mother and son.

And I can’t have that time back again.

He wants independence and the freedom to move on and learn new things. It is not my son’s problem to cope with what I am feeling.

Whilst we unpacked and I sorted the food cupboard and bathroom, my younger son and my husband set about doing the practical stuff.

All the while I was slowly losing a bit of him to his new found independence.

I find it difficult to reconcile that I won’t get a call from him when he’s leaving the athletics track on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, ‘Hi Mum just ringing to let you know I’m leaving for home now’.Mother With Teenage Son Sitting On Sofa At Home

I miss the banter in the car when I pick up the boys from school and how he would tell me about his day.

I don’t know the details of when he goes out, whom he is going with and where he is going.

We have grown use to him sharing with us what he is doing, where he is going and who he is with but now that will change.

He is independent, it is his time, he has no need to tell us his every move unless he wants too and we are of course excited to know what he has been up to.

But I know I have to let go of him.

empty nest syndromeThe letting go is like someone taking a knife and pushing it right through the very heart and soul of me.

I am left bare and at a complete loss.

I am emotional when I wash his remaining clothes, I cry when I put his freshly ironed jeans and sweatshirts in his wardrobe.

lie down on his bed when the feelings of loss sweep over me and clutch his PJ’s to my chest, burying my head the smell of him still lingers.

It is a feeling of indescribable wretchedness that envelopes me bringing a lump to my throat and as I write this; if feels like utter dejection, loss and sadness rolled into one.

Like being ‘chucked’ by your first love, that one pain free milli-second  when you stir in the morning with no thoughts then suddenly it surfaces and you feel nothing but heartache.

As the week draws to a close, the feeling of pain has eased.

I was fortunate enough to have a meeting on Monday within half an hour’s drive of the University which allowed me to drop a box of things he still needed.

I wondered with trepidation if this was the right thing to do?

Seeing him again after only two days, how would I react?

Would it set me back, would the angst resurface like a gnawing toothache felt in the pit of my stomach.

But, as it turned out it was wonderful, we chatted and he showed me his reorganised room, he told me about the various clubs and societies he is thinking of joining and the new friends he has met.

As he walked me to the car my spirit lifted, I knew he was safe and well and most importantly taking care of himself.

We hugged and said our goodbyes as I drew out of the car park I waved back and my heart and stomach lurched again but, I am grateful for seeing him, it has reassured me that he is going to be okay.

As I drove out of the car park, I realised that the last eighteen years have been about this very moment, letting go of my first born as he asserts his independence.

But the loss a parent feels, I feel, is so overwhelming.

It is akin to being suffocated.

A mother’s love is wide as it is deep, it never errs or falters and it can never be diminished or demeaned, it is an never ending love and one that is not easily put into words.

Just being a mum is a joy and a privilege and the only thing I need to know is that he is happy and safe.

He is a much loved son and I know that with time I can let go.

More Reading

When 4 becomes 3. The empty nest syndrome

That thing you do called ‘motherhood’

Just being Mum

empty nest syndrome

Letter to my eighteen year old son

My darling son

So, here we are, another year, another birthday except this time it is the big 1 8.

It only seemed like yesterday that you came into our world like a ray of sunshine, yet cold and blue having left the warmth and cosiness of the womb in which you grew.

Mom and baby lying in the bed home

For those first few hours I could not keep my eyes off you, a gorgeous bundle of love and fun.

I held you close and vowed that no one or anything would ever hurt you.

The enormity of what I had created, a new life a living breathing person wasn’t lost on me and I knew that becoming a mother is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon a woman.

On the second day you gave me your first smile I looked lovingly into your brown eyes and I knew there and then there was a connection, you knew I was your mummy and that I was here to love and cherish you.

I loved you beyond the realms of explanation, it was a love that I had never felt for anyone else, completely different to the love and feelings I have for your dad.

From that day forth, my love like a carefully tendered flower has bloomed for you.

As a toddler you delighted in trying out different things and like your mum, you always needed plenty of sleep. You loved your food especially cake and there wasn’t anything you wouldn’t try.

From toddler to young boy you were reserved, shy and reluctant to push yourself forward.

Getting your kids to readYour shyness often held you back from doing the things you wanted to do and it wasn’t until you became a teenager that you began to show your true colours.

There have been difficult times for you and that is part of growing up,  often overlooked and without the recognition you deserve your frustrations would sometimes spill over.

For the past two years you have achieved many successes and proved to the onlookers who doubted you just how good you truly are and that is down to your hard work and commitment.

Despite setbacks, you continued to work hard; to be resilient, and, as a result you have grown into a fine young man, one that I am proud to say is my son.

Intelligent, articulate, strong and feisty, you always want to have the last word and like every teenager you are of course, never wrong!

I have always known that there was a superstar waiting to burst out and you haven’t proved me wrong.

Every parent thinks their kids are the best and I have been guilty of believing that you were better at things than perhaps you really were.

Family happiness! Happy mother tenderly embracing his two sons iBut, because I pushed and encouraged you, you are now strong and more resilient ready to face life’s ups and downs.

You are beginning to find your place in life’s rich tapestry and, as you learn and acquire knowledge coupled with life experience, you will learn to cope with life’s ups and downs because you are ready.

It is important to live by the values, morals and discipline that dad and I have taught you.

That you don’t forget the importance of family, friends and especially your brothers.

Be considerate and always respectful of others, even in the face of hostility, aggression and rejection. To be patient, kind and be civil are important human virtues.

Be mindful of others, always listen and be respectful when someone asks about you.African-American single-parent family

Learn to step back and breathe once in awhile and remember that you only pass this way once.

Make the most of your life by having fun and joy with loved ones and is more important than valueless items.

There will be many temptations along the road, be careful and earnest about the life choices you make.

And so it is my darling son that my job as a mother is almost done.

My heart is slowly breaking as I know that we have reached the end of our journey together for it is hard being a mother and a parent.

We will always be here for you and support you whenever you need us.

But you are a young man and it is time for you to make decisions and choose your own way.

Being a mother is emotionally tough as you watch your son grow and leave the family to form new friendships and relationships and there is the realisation that you are no longer the “one”.

It is incredibly hard to let go because I can see that little blonde haired and brown eyed one year old giggling as he puts a fistful of donald duck cake into his mouth.

The love of a mother runs deep and wide and I would sacrifice my life for you in whatever the circumstances.

One day when you become a father you will understand those words, loving a child is an act of selflessness, our love is infinite.

When all is said and done we can look back with satisfaction, share wonderful and beautiful memories of great times spent together.

We must look forward now with excitement and opportunity, what will your next stage of life look like and what path will you travel along?

I have tried to teach you all that I can to prepare you for this world.

You are a young man, an adult and with that comes great responsibility.

It is your job to set a good example to your brother and to others around you, to prove what we’ve always believed, a strong, caring and wonderful human being.

At times you will feel like the world is enormous and that you’ll never find your own way you will be knocked down, but, you will find the effort to get up and try again, don’t give up even when every sinew in your body screams at you to do so.

Adult Son Moving Out Of Parent's HomeBelieve in yourself as dad and I do, when the world appears dark and lonely and you think you can’t do it have faith, believe, succeed.

That is the wonderful thing about being human, our frailty and fragility also makes us strong and steadfast.

Never be afraid to stand up up for what you believe in and never, ever sacrifice your beliefs and what you hold dear to your heart.

I will always be your most trusted friend, your confidant, the person that will cuddle and love you no matter what age, but mostly I’ll always be your mum.

It has been a privilege raising you, loving you, nurturing you and I’ve loved every single second of every single minute, I am proud to be a mum to such a wonderful and beautiful person as you are.

With much love and honesty, always and forever.

Mum

xxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Walking on Beach

When 4 becomes 3. The empty nest syndrome

I say goodbye to my husband and boys as I leave the beach an hour earlier to get a head start on the packing.
It’s our final few hours of our summer holiday and as I head off on my bike I watch my two boys playing in the sea their shadows silhouetted against the setting sun.

I am choked by the emotion I feel and my tears start to flow, feelings of love, tenderness, loss, at the same time a vice like pain in my chest and a sense of overwhelming inevitability.

What on earth has made me feel like this?

Another school year raced by so quickly it almost left Lewis Hamilton in it’s wake and with a summer holiday over it means another step toward my eldest son leaving home. Group Of Elementary School Pupils Running In Playground

I can’t wait for them to go back to school’, breathed one friend recently and I have to admit there were many times this summer when I uttered the same words.

‘Why is the summer holiday so long?’ another friend remarked, tired with her children always being bored.

I am grateful for the summer holidays, although I still have to work I get time to spend time with the boys without the busy school schedule, school runs and after school activities.

GCSE and A level results are out and many parents including my friends are facing up to the prospect that their 18 year olds will be leaving home.

They are on the precipice of adulthood and it’s the moment every mother dreads, your first born taking the first real adult steps into the world and then they stop needing you.

That long and lingering final hug, the tears and the fears, all the emotions welling up inside.

Last year I wrote about the empty nest syndrome whilst I am three years away from facing that emotional roller coaster ride, I can’t help but feel empathy for parents who are facing up to the reality that their eldest are leaving home.

chipiona beachAs I watch my children play in the sea on the final day of our summer holiday I am sad that their childhood has been stolen from me because the years have passed so quickly.

September sees the start of the GCSE challenge and I am worried that in this important academic year, a year that could change his destiny, it will be my anxiety that will dominate the relationship I have with my son.

All the conversations are likely to focus on what he should be doing, has the homework been done, will the coursework be finished and submitted on time, will the revision and planning be enough, what grades will he eventually get?

I am under no illusion that the year will focus on the end goal, the final results. There will be much to discuss and organise and I fear little time to spend as mother and son.

There are still things left to do that I desperately want my son to see and enjoy; like plan a trip to New York, go to Disneyland in Florida, see a band in concert all before he departs and leaves for good.

All of which cost a small fortune but they are things on my to do list, trips I want to do as a family of four and when I’ve done

it I will feel that I have given my kids a rounded education.

My younger son knows the importance of this year and when I mentioned that his big brother has only three years of school before leaving and then four will become three, I noticed how he bit his lower lip as he fought back tears.

In spite of their arguments I know they do love each other and the dynamic of the whole family will change when the other leaves. It has to and it can’t and won’t feel the same.

This raises a new issue when it comes to holidays. Will my younger son want a friend to come on holiday? How will he feel being on his own when we go away?

There will be an empty chair at the dinner table and an unbearable silence in the house.

This year is important not just because it’s exam year but it is likely to be the last year we spend as a family unit, just the four of us.

When the exams are over he will want to go out with his friends, girlfriends and party and will spend less time with his family. The transition from a teenager to young man will be complete.

Having quality time as a family, sitting down and having meals together will be the special moments to cherish. Family Walking on Beach

I still have things I need to share with him, experiences that might help him later in life like the adult sex talk, the one I remember having countless times with my mum.

And whilst I talk openly about ‘things’ he giggles and says ‘Mum, I’m busy, I know all about it mum’.

I worry that the time will ebb away before we say the things we should have said but didn’t. Will he be ready for his entry into the world as a man to take on life’s challenges?

All of this I see as my job as a parent and mother to impart wisdom and knowledge.

At the same time I’m reassured by friends who tell me ‘they know, you don’t need to worry, they know a lot more than we ever did, and we managed’.

I see our roles changing. I will become less significant in his life, whilst his life and what he does will be even more important to me.

I will still be Mum but, I also want to be his friend, counsellor and confidante. Do I ask him each night how school is and how he feels, does he need help with anything or do I wait for him to come to me?

Should I ask where he is going, what he gets up to, who are his friends and girlfriends and is he really okay? Just so he knows we all care and love him.

As heart breaking as it is, parents raise their children and prepare them to leave the family home. They have to assert their independence and make a life for themselves it is part of growing up.

A baby chick is encouraged to fly by it’s mother and as parents we have to do the same with our children, encourage them to spread their wings and learn to fly and stand on their own two feet.

Although I have three years before my eldest son leaves, I am already experiencing the feelings of the pain and loss associated with empty nest syndrome.

As a mother I never thought it would be so hard and hurt so much as this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boomerang children. Do our children ever stop needing us?

Much has been written about empty nest syndrome the feeling of loss that strikes the heart and soul of many a parent when the first child leaves home for University, work or to travel the world.

Do our children still need us?
Do our children still need us?

Moving on and moving out are probably the most important steps teenagers take into the world having been reasonably cosseted at home for the first eighteen years.

It’s a big step for them as it moves them toward adulthood and independence and although the move is a physical one for the children, for the parents it is emotional as they are left with feelings of loss and emptiness not too dissimilar to grief.

Celia Cochrane, 64 and a mother of 3 sons says “although its a long time ago I do remember the feeling of emptiness. It was hard for the other 2 boys especially Adam, my youngest who was left behind after my two eldest went off to University”.

Deborah Burgoine, 49 is recently coming to terms with her 18 year old daughter going to University “it’s really hard, even now I miss her despite the rows but our relationship seems closer since she’s been away. But from age 13-17 our household was like a teenage war zone”.

With spiralling tuition fees many students leave further education in debt and with the long dispelled myth that a degree doesn’t lead to a highly paid job and with many graduates competing for very few jobs, attaining the first step on the property ladder almost impossible, parents are faced with the sobering thought that the children they said good bye to three to four years ago are returning to the family home.

In fact approximately 1.7 million people between the age of 20 and 40 are living with their parents as a result of further education debt and the crippling cost of property.

23 year olds returning to the family home after higher education are unlikely to leave before they are 26 years.

A situation that places strain on both parents and children. No parent expects to see the return of their offspring even for a short hiatus but the facts are that one in four of 2011 graduates had part-time jobs six months after having graduated and one in ten were unemployed.

But have the new modern parents made it too easy for their offspring to return to the nest? The “helicopter parent” that hovers over their children throughout primary and secondary schooling has resulted in a new generation of children unable or incapable of becoming self sufficient.

Parents are guilty of not pushing their children into independence. Washing, ironing, cleaning and providing the parent taxi service to take them everywhere means they’ve become dependent on parents making them ill-equipped to handle the reality that is real life.

Leaving aside the stark economic facts, this new generation of “boomerang kids” have an inflated sense of self worth which is not compatible with the realities of the current world we live.

Many of these students believe they are so talented and that employers would be foolish to overlook them, in short, they feel they can walk into any high paying job at the expense of years of experience.

Unfortunately when reality bites they seek someone to blame, the University for ‘misleading them’ into believing a job at the end of the study period is a for gone conclusion or parents and teachers for some how hoodwinking them.

This boomerang generation believes its 'entitled' to a great paying job straightaway.
This boomerang generation believes its ‘entitled’ to a great paying job straightaway.

This generation of ‘entitlement’ means that when life doesn’t quite pan out how they hoped they look to the family home for support often into their thirties.

The Office for National Statistics estimates three million young people are presently living with their parents, this inter-generational living is influenced by money.

The perception that children are independent from the age of eighteen is a fallacy because the evidence supports that many are relying on parents both practically and financially well into their 20s.

The harsh reality is that at some point your children will leave the nest; it is the next step for children emotionally and physically.

But for the parents it is quite different.

You want them to seek their own independence, career, family and happiness and when they need advice or help you hope they look to you.

As much as we love our children and we want to do the best we can for them, you hope this doesn’t result in permanent residency in the parental home.

What do you think? Are you a parent that has children residing at home? Do you like the fact they are there with you or are you helping them out because that’s what good parents do? Let us know what you think.

Please follow us on twitter, like us on facebook and connect with us on linkedin and google+