Lori Robinett: {Creating} My Path

musings of a wife, mother, writer . . .

Empty Nest: Is this really happening?

Lori at Lake Minnetonka

Lori at Lake Minnetonka

Although there’s a ton of information out there for Empty Nesters, there’s very little info about Sudden Onset Empty Nest (more commonly known as What-the-Hell-Just-Happened). For those of us who had a teenager leave home with no warning – and, really, if you were planning to move out, wouldn’t you take clean undies? – it’s not all happy and cheery and cause for celebration. It’s horrible. Like your heart was ripped out, suddenly and with no drugs. Really, drugs should be involved in this. At least a good dose of happy gas.  Your first thought will be, no way, is this really happening?

Yes, it’s happening.

And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it. Unless your kid is young enough that you can drag him/her home.

So, how do you cope?

You get through it, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Keep Kleenexes handy. Eat well (peanut butter ice cream is a mood enhancer). Exercise (nothing beats doing lunges until your thighs are on fire to get your mind off things). Take care of yourself. After all, you can’t control what your of-age child does, but you can control your response.

There aren’t many resources out there for those whose teenagers move out unexpectedly. I found an interesting blog post, which you can read here. Not the same situation, but similar in ways. And like this mom, I’m not going to go into the details. Suffice it to say, I thought my kiddo and I had a great relationship. <SHRUG> Obviously, I was wrong. I have the same fears this mom did. Will she be okay? Have I prepared her for life on her own? Yeah, yeah . . . I know. I did the best I could for the past 18 years.  And I was kinda looking forward to the Empty Nest. Just expected it to be coupled with happiness instead of grief. Maybe it would help to have a name. Sudden Onset Empty Nest? Acute Empty Nest Syndrome? Abandoned Nest Syndrome? Flown the Coop? I’ll have to think on that for a bit.

Your turn. What do you call it when Empty Nest Syndrome doesn’t fit the bill? Any tips for coping?


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5 thoughts on “Empty Nest: Is this really happening?

  1. Keep busy is my best suggestion. Look into starting to collect stamps for doing 10K walking events. Exercise is a great mood enhancer and getting out and seeing new places and being involved in a walking club might help. To see if there is a club near you go to http://www.ava.org and click on the clubs link. They are listed by state and there may be one near you. Best Wishes.

  2. Great suggestion, walktx. I started running last summer (did the Couch to 5K program – and completed 3 5Ks!). Love the idea of a 10K walking event. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  3. I wish I had suggestions. I don’t, except to say just mourn it. Tell people about it. Don’t keep it hidden. Sometimes the best thing to do is let people know you’re in pain.

    Mine happened 8 years ago. Her sister had just gone off to college in another state 8 hours away 10 months before (you know, the “normal” empty nest syndrome). My second one was 17-1/2. She was a great kid, but mouthy, and we weren’t getting along. I was long divorced. She didn’t like her father much, and had even asked me that same week if I had any more summer vacation time, so she wouldn’t have to go to her dad’s that week for visitation.

    We got into it one morning when she mouthed off to me. She came home from work, had already called her father, he was waiting in the driveway, and she threw every single thing she owned into this massive plastic storage bin (literally the size of a bathtub), shoved it down the hall, out the door, “we’re not getting along right now; I’m going to dad’s for 2 or 3 days”…and never returned. Ten minutes’ notice of “cya”–and my life changed forever.

    He went to court, thrilled to pieces that after putting me through years of custody hell (I’d spent $41,000 on two custody fights–I was/still am a TERRIFIC mom who raised these kids while dealing with her attorney ex nonstop)–and filed an emergency motion (there was no emergency) which I didn’t fight–she was 17-1/2–and even her school district (she’d now moved out if it and into the next district a few miles away) was afraid of him–and he got custody. The pain was indescribable–and I’d already been through a TON.

    But time has a way of pushing you forward even when you want to just sit there and cry and stare at her empty room every day. Eight years later and here we are–a good and healthy mother-daughter relationship, she’s married now, and she still needs her mama in her life after all. 🙂 It took a lot of painful moments–some where I was so angry and so hurt and so in shock that I couldn’t talk to her for longer than a minute without sobbing or raging. But somehow, life went on. I pray that you and your daughter find your way to “the other side” to an outstanding relationship with each other.

    • I can certainly relate to that 10 minutes of “cya”. Glad to hear that things have improved for you over the past 8 years. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It really does help to know that I’m not the only one who’s gone through this.

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