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Old 07-06-2010, 02:34 PM
 
43,012 posts, read 98,253,182 times
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Throughout my children's lives, I have mentally prepared myself for the empty nest by always giving them age appropriate freedom. It's a form of letting go that many parents have difficulty doing. Knowing this, I made a conscious effort to LET GO at appropriate intervals in their lives. For the last few years of their teen years as minors, I have basically let them live like adults. In return, I have pursued more hobbies and strengthened my network of friends to prepare myself or the empty nest. My husband and I have always retained our identities by pursuing interests outside of the family. However, those interests only kept us away from the house for minimal amounts of time because we had children at home to raise. It's a responsibility we took very seriously.

Now both of my children are officially young adults. Even though they are living at home, I feel an overwhelming presence of the empty nest. It's like I'm stuck in a rut. I feel like I should be out living my own life. I want that. I really do. I'm ready to move on. At the same time, I can't get past the routine of being a mom with children at home. I still feel like my life should revolve around my children. I mean daily, hourly. Like I should be physically here---just in case they need me.

I guess this is a long winded thread about how I want to move on, but I just can't find the mindset to do so. My children aren't requiring me to be constantly home---they aren't expecting it. My husband is part of the problem. He has become set in his ways and rarely wants to do anything. That's cool because I don't need him to have my own interests and identity.

I just get frustrated that I'm surrounded by people, yet I feel so alone. I know that sounds like I'm depressed. But I know I'm not depressed. What I do know is that I could rapidly become depressed if I don't take action. Sitting around waiting for life to happen wont' be healthy for me.

YESTERDAY, I took a two hour drive to drop something off at my sister's house----just to get out of the house. I had the car windows and the sunroof open and blasted the radio all the way up the interstate, enjoying the ride. My husband recommended that I wait until today and my response was "I'm going today. I'm sick of being home." Honestly, I'm just sick of being at home with people who don't want to do anything.

Maybe I'm like the opposite of Empty Nest Syndrom. I'm ready to do all the things I dreamed of doing when the nest would be empty! But psychologically, I feel that I still need to constantly be here simply because they are still living in the house. That's so illogical. Even though they are living here, my nest is technically empty because they no longer NEED me the way they NEEDED me, and they rarely have TIME to spend TIME with me. Again, THAT'S COOL. I'm okay with that. I expected that. I prepared for that.

What I didn't prepare for was my inability to get off my ass and live life. I really thought I would make a healthy transition to the empty nest. I worked hard at making sure I would be prepared. But my mind thinks they literally need to be physically GONE from the nest before it's truly empty.

Don't get me wrong. I am busy. I returned to school to pursue my masters degree. I do things with various friends a few days per week. I'm just not fullfilled. When I'm home, I'm frustrated. I always imagined that I would travel. I'm planning our family vacation for the end of the month. Everyone is excited to go. I guess the planning of vacation is making me realize that I'm NOT TRAVELING like I dreamed I would travel all those years. Maybe that's it. Maybe not.

I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm not depressed....yet.

How do you handle the empty nest when the adult children haven't left the nest? How do I get myself to act as if the nest is empty? How can I make myself stop the routine of feeling I need to be here all the time? How can I find my new identity? Being a mother was fullfilling and purposeful. I guess I don't feel like I have a purpose anymore. I feel like I'm stuck between two worlds and the only thing making me stuck in this rut is my own mind. I'm having trouble letting go when I've already successfully let go at every stage.

Now I have a meaningless belief that I need to be at home. At the same time, I would be at home even if the nest were literally empty. I guess this empty nest just didn't turn out to be what I envisioned. I THOUGHT they would be going away to college. I thought the house would be empty. That's how envisioned an empty nest. But they are attending college and living at home.

I'm not wishing they were gone. Not at all.

I'm just wishing that I could force myself to mentally move forward now that I'm not needed in the capacity that I was needed before.

Sorry if this post is confusing. Maybe it's a rant. A cry for help perhaps.

I know I'm not the only mother who felt this way.

How to get past this and move on to the next phase of life?
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Old 07-06-2010, 02:51 PM
 
43,012 posts, read 98,253,182 times
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This might explain why my husband and I are on different wave lengths right now:

Quote:
Women also tend to "pre-grieve," or grieve in anticipation of their children leaving home, says Andrea Van Steenhouse, PhD, author of Empty Nest…Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College . Men, on the other hand, underestimate this anticipatory grief and then find themselves struck by the powerful emotions they feel when their child departs.

Feathering Your Empty Nest
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Old 07-06-2010, 02:57 PM
 
Location: NW. MO.
1,817 posts, read 6,318,832 times
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Oh yeah this phase of life can get confusing. I just hit 40, we moved and my oldest who has lived at home since birth and is now 21, stayed so he's lots of miles away, my youngest graduated this year and plans to go to college although he will be living at home. I was taking some classes but it just doesn't feel like what I want right now. I just don't know what I want to do even though I had planned to be enjoying life at this age, something feels off. I guess it's just change and an adjustment time.
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Old 07-06-2010, 03:22 PM
 
Location: Planet Eaarth
8,955 posts, read 18,772,831 times
Reputation: 7193
Do as we did.....
Instead of looking back at your life with children look forward to the rewards that proper parenting bring as you watch them flower into adults that prove out your parenting skill.

We burst with pride at how well our 4 sons are living their lives as really good people. There is nothing we know of that will ease the pain of the empty nest like the pride of a parenting job well done!
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Old 07-06-2010, 03:43 PM
 
Location: Denver 'burbs
23,515 posts, read 25,113,306 times
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Have you thought of a job? Paid or unpaid - something that requires your presence on a regular basis. Having hobbies is nice but not enough IMO. A job would require you to get up and out of the house for chunks of time - plus the knowledge that people are counting on you to do your thing...
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Old 07-06-2010, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Happy wherever I am - Florida now
3,360 posts, read 11,371,233 times
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I think the problem is that you've preprepared yourself for a long time and the final event hasn't happened yet. The transition of empty nest syndrome can last a very long time both before and after the kids leave. For me it lasted at least ten years and I still feel it in some respects even now. I felt similarly in longing for a new baby after my last was born, another of life's transitions.

My kids did go away to college (summers included) and I was told point blank that they didn't want to see me more than two or three times a year as they were in the process of establishing their own lives. That was tough on me but I accepted it. It's an awful feeling but you have to accept their decisions.

It's good to hear you have your own friends and activities. Initially I made a list of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see. I got a degree, took golf and dance lessons, went place by myself, and made new friends. I don't do nearly as much now over ten years later, more into a slower retirement mode, less money too. I do understand your frustration with a partner who is inactive as I find myself in the same situation for the most part.

Just understand that what you're feeling is perfectly normal and as in all things in life you'll get through it.
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Old 07-06-2010, 04:54 PM
 
4,043 posts, read 6,648,781 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopes View Post
I just get frustrated that I'm surrounded by people, yet I feel so alone.
Oh, come on!! Where do you think you are? Italy? The Middle East?? ...
Dear Hopes, this is America! We are all like that here: alone, even when surrounded by people. Or perhaps, especially then.
Empty nest or not. "The Lonely Crowd" by Riesman should clarify it for you, though that's not an easy read.

I for one certainly don't believe in spending two decades of life focused - to complete absorption - on the kids and kids only. Taking child rearing seriously does not mean that during two decades or so of life nothing of substance outside of child rearing should happen.
But this is the American child rearing model and this is how I, and virtually everyone I know with children, live too.
I say sad. And your story is exactly what I fear two decades from now.
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Canada
3,431 posts, read 3,778,399 times
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My kids are still very young so its hard to put myself in your situation. I guess it must be really difficult to get used to the idea that your children don't constantly need you anymore. It must feel really really strange. However, you need to be happy and proud of yourself. You have raised your childrena and now they are adults. Now it is time for YOU. Focus on yourself for a change. You have earned it.
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:54 PM
 
Location: California
32,748 posts, read 36,223,159 times
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I've been there. It's something that can effect anyone but especially us SAHM's. It's not that I never did anything else while raising my kids but I didn't do anything that was as fulfilling. My eldest left without a backward glance after high school and I learned that I could actually be more relaxed with her out of the house than I did when she was living here. Although I never knew what she was doing I could tell myself she was studying or just having dinner with friends..lol. We are very close though and she still depended on me even from a distance to do some things and I jumped at the opportunity to feel needed. My youngest made it a little tougher because he was slower to become independent and is still living at home. He is nearly 20 and just started driving but I've had so much time to prepare for it that it was a welcome blessing! Last week I went out to breakfast with friends and didn't even let myself worry about my son getting himself to work, something I would often do because it's not convenient to public transportation and, well, I'M THE MOM...that's what I was supposed to to right? Hahahaha. But I felt very liberated and pleased that he is managing his life on his own.

For me I got the added bonus of a midlife crisis husband who decided he wanted freedom to do everything he didn't get to do while raising a family, that made everything so much harder because I was loosing everything all at once and going through menopause to boot! Ideally I would have a job but I don't, so I took college classes and joined some organizations that kept me busy while I wrapped my head around my future.

It will happen, trust me. Don't be too hard on yourself and just take baby steps.

Last edited by Ceece; 07-06-2010 at 06:12 PM..
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Old 07-06-2010, 06:05 PM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
67,665 posts, read 63,152,385 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
Oh, come on!! Where do you think you are? Italy? The Middle East?? ...
Dear Hopes, this is America! We are all like that here: alone, even when surrounded by people. Or perhaps, especially then.
Empty nest or not. "The Lonely Crowd" by Riesman should clarify it for you, though that's not an easy read.

I for one certainly don't believe in spending two decades of life focused - to complete absorption - on the kids and kids only. Taking child rearing seriously does not mean that during two decades or so of life nothing of substance outside of child rearing should happen.
But this is the American child rearing model and this is how I, and virtually everyone I know with children, live too.
I say sad. And your story is exactly what I fear two decades from now.
You have to find something that is just yours, and even if you are not a SAHM, the job usually doesn't fill the bill.

About ten years ago I went to talk to somebody after my divorce. I was kind of depressed, felt like a failure because I couldn't fix my marriage/husband, etc., the usual story. The shrink asked me what I did for myself outside of work. I told him I was a Girl Scout leader, and that I took my daughter and her friends on the weekends for their horseback riding lessons and hung out and watched them, things I did enjoy. And he kept saying, but what do you do for you? That's just for you, not your kid or other people's kids? It took me aback, because that had never occurred to me. I was supposed to take care of everybody else, wasn't I? Wasn't that the "right" thing to do, what a woman lives for? Yeah, gag me now.

Anyway, he harped on this every week until finally to shut him up I grabbed a catalogue from a writing workship school, because when I was younger I did like to write. I took a course, and then another, and that became my thing. I have even had a few things published from time to time, not that I could quit the day job. I've also taken other classes in other subjects that interested me from time to time, including handwriting analysis and chord-method piano.

So, Hopes, find your thing. Paint, sing, dance, write, draw, learn to play the trombone, build birdhouses. Find something you are interested in, even slightly, and take a class. If you don't like it, try something else.
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