Getting ready for empty nest next year


Hello everyone. I am new to the forum after being away for years. I was reading some of the logs and thought I would say a few words. I am a divorced mother of 1 daughter. She will be going to college next year. I am getting a taste of what it will be like for me. Lonely! She was accepted into a 6 week program this summer where she is staying at the campus of NDSU. They offer 5 different subjects for chosen high school kids from through out the state of ND. She is one of 20 kids in the science program. She is not allowed to come home during this time. She is living in the dorms. I am happy for her but yet, I feel so broken hearted. This is what it is going to be like for me next year. I do not have family here as they are in another state. She has been my whole life. How do you go from being a mother who your child depended on to someone that no one seems to need? She will be away for 4 more weeks. She is as happy as a clam where she is and it secretly makes me sad that she doesn't miss me. I have work, but after work, I hate coming home to an empty house. The weekends are the worse. How do others deal with this empty feeling and knowing that more than likely, when she leaves after high school, she probably won't be back. She wants to be a doctor and who knows where she will be? I always hoped she would go to college in our city and then marry and have kids and stay here. I have coworkers and relatives that have this and I envy them being able to do things together, especially at the holidays.

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How do you go from being a mother who your child depended on to someone that no one seems to need?

I'm not exactly in your shoes. I'm not single and I have 2 college students, not one. But most of my life revolved around my kids since I was mostly a SAHM and worked part time.

The first thing I guess I would say is that my kids both seem to enjoy having me around more now than they did when they were in high school. They both go to college close enough for me to drive up (or down, depending on the college) and have lunch with them. When your daughter starts her freshman year, give her some space and time to get acclimated, and time to start missing you. Then if you are close enough, you may find that she enjoys having you come for short visits sometimes. I find that my kids are around a lot more than I thought they would be, and like to have me visit them more than I thought they would.

My other suggestion is to shove those negative thoughts out of your mind after she leaves, and think about positive things. Now is your time to rekindle friendships that you didn't have time for before, or make new ones. Time to take up new hobbies, repaint the house, or whatever you've wanted to do that you put off. Volunteer. There are probably people all around you who need you. And exercise - exercise helps keep the blues away. Every time you think, "Oh how much I miss little Susie, my heart is just breaking", shove that thought out, be thankful you raised such an independent, capable and intelligent young woman, and think about how much you can't wait to buy that new rose bush or take that Italian cooking class, or whatever.

One day you will be exercising or gardening or whatever it is that you like to do, and you'll realize the hole in your heart is not so big or so painful. And after she comes home next summer you may even be happy to see her go back to school in the fall and get back the peace and quiet you've grown accustomed to.

I know that advice sounds trite and cliched, but it worked for me. Give yourself time to grieve. But keep trying new things or rediscovering old things until you find something that helps fill the hole in your heart.

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Keep in mind that the goal of being a good parent is to make your position obsolete.

Sounds like you did a great job raising a daughter who is smart, independent,adventurous and not afraid to stand on her own two feet. That's fantastic and you deserve to be commended.

You can look at 'empty nesting' in two ways--a huge loss, or life's next great adventure for you. I personally LOVED that my daughter was able to begin her journey to becoming an adult, and needed me less. It was great to be comfortable that her ability to make it on her own gave me the free time to follow some of my own interests. And a side benefit is that your relationship with her is in for a big change in the next few years--she'll no longer be just your daughter, but is likely to become one of your most respected friends.

Well, unfortunately, you've pinpointed another reason why humans were designed to parent in pairs--so that you have someone at your side to help you get through this time. You're just going to have to accept what life's dealt you and find your own way.

My suggestion would be to get active. You love and miss your daughter--why not share some of that caring with a child who really needs you? Spend some of your spare hours volunteering at: the local hospital in the pediatrics ward, the town summer rec/summer academy program, at the library helping with story hours, tutoring, helping out at: the local AIDS baby hospice or your local Ronald McDonald House. There are so many, many children in your area who would LOVE to have your input.

Besides working with children, you need to get active. Physcial activity goes a LONG way toward relieving 'the blues', make your own contemporary friends, learn a new hobby, join a club,take some classes, get active in your community. Busy people don't have time to sit around feeling sorry for themselves, and people who find ways of helping others soon realize that they've helped themselves the most. You knew all this before I wrote it--or you wouldn't have been such a great mom to your daughter. But perhaps just hearing it said by someone else will help push you out the door to start your OWN new adventure this summer.

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