I really thought parenting would get easier as the boys got older. I figured they’d need me less, and I’d be glad to see them out in the world, doing their thing.
And some of that is true, but there is a whole lot of gray area in there where its just murky, and confusing, and as both Jake and Ty head to new colleges next Thursday (Jake to Chapman as a junior and a history major, and Ty to Occidental as a sophomore and music production major) I am struggling with the reality of….me.
I like having them home. I like feeding them (okay, being a short order cook every morning can get old, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t get something out of it). I like having a sense of purpose. I simply like them.
Helping them ‘launch’ has been bumpy and fraught with error. We’ve had numerous shifts and adjustments, and there have been a few more college transitions than I expected. I’ve doubted myself more times than I care to admit, but I never doubt them because it’s my job to keep the faith…for them, and myself. Faith is sometimes all I’ve had when we’re in the middle of another shoots and ladders moment that sends you sliding all the way back to start.
But that’s not the confession.
The confession is that I struggle in the letting go. I struggle as they leave, and I worry that my love for them, and my bond, is what has made it hard for them to go. I worry that my (over?) attachment hinders their emotional and psychological independence. I worry that I am simply too dependent on them for love, and friendship, and conversation.
Clearly I need to do more with women my age.
And possibly get some helpful therapy.
So this is where I am, and what I think about, when I’m supposed to be writing and accomplishing things. I don’t really accomplish as much as I used to…or do I, but its just a different kind of accomplishment?
So now you’re all caught up. Well, maybe not completely, because I’m going to start blogging again and just chat with you about real stuff and I hope you’ll feel like chatting back.
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Enjoyed hearing fro you again!
I can relate to your situation as both my boys left home at 16 years old to join the British Military. One in the Navy and one in the Army. Being an ’empty nester’ isn’t easy for any of us as we need to redefine ourselves. It’s time for you to make time for yourself and try doing something different, maybe something you have wanted to do for a while but never had the time.
I found joining a class for yoga helped & those that can/want to go for coffee & cake afterward. Not always the same people every week. Volunteering at our local Community Library also helped me meet people & I could support our community by helping to keep the Library open. I also belong to a ‘Tea & Book Swap’ Group which meets once a month. It is for anyone who wants to come and have a ‘natter’ try new authors, borrow different DVDs. It doesn’t sound earth shattering but it works for me.
Hang in there Jane, your role in their lives will be redefined as things change for them. They know that you love them & are there for them so they will come home.
Please keep writing, things will work out, you just need to give yourself time & the right to feel as you do at the moment, which is probably a little lost.
I can’t relate to how you feel about your children growing up and moving on, but I have heard other women say they struggle with the same things you’re going through. From what I have heard everything will smooth out eventually. I can relate to the faith part though. that’s something I have trouble with. I seem to be on the same chutes and ladder board with the up and down and back to start more often then I want to mention. Just hang in there. Everything will get better soon.
I feel that is going to be my struggle in a few years. It sounds like you are normal… You are accomplishing stuff, just not what’s on your list. I have to remember that, too…
As a mom and grandma I totally relate. One thing I learned they never need us less… Only in different ways. Love your writing in all ways Jane.
Love your blogs, glad you are going to be writing more. I do not think you are alone in your thoughts about your kids. I think a lot of moms struggle.
As someone that is helping take care of their parents, it is hard to find time to just hang out with friends our age. We need to make it a point to do more often though. I think it is super important!
HUGS, Jane. I think the path through this isn’t straight for many of us, and it sounds like it’s happening at the right speed with the right number twists and turns for each of your kids. It’s part of our job description to worry over them and how they get to where they want to go, and that you’re able to acknowledge that means you’re right where you ought to be. I’m sure your kids are all maturing into the men you hope and pray they can be!
Yes Jane I feel your pain. But as I read this I thought this would be a good story line for you. I really enjoyed your “Odd Mom Out” book and this topic could be a good read for all of us fans who follow you and enjoy your common sense (humor). Love that your blogging again.
Absolutely loved this! I have heard this is very common, I am sure when my little guys get to that age I’ll be in your shoes you are today! Just know you are not alone and you are a wonderful mom! I am excited you will be blogging more! I look forward to chatting with you here!
So good to see you blogging again. I know you write for a living but this is different…it’s more you and I love that. My kids are all married and moved out but the oldest came back with a baby in tow and another on the way. It was unexpected but she’s been home a year now and with two babies under foot I’ve come to realize how very much I missed having my kids home. I’ve developed an amazing bond with my grandson and, even when I miss the quiet and the sanity of an empty nest, I look at those babies and smile and thank God that they’re here and safe instead of the alternative. I do wish things were easier for my daughter and that she wasn’t going through a divorce with two babies to care for but I’m glad I can be there for her while she navigates these waters and be there for the kids as they watch their mother struggle through this difficult time in her life.
As parents we often wrap our lives around our kids and when they’re grown we have this stretched out life that was once so full of living for them and with them and around them and suddenly it’s empty…much like our bodies after giving birth to them…from full and full of life to empty and stretched out and we have to figure out what to do with it, how to live alongside them but not for them. We come to a point where we’re friends rather than parents and that can be tough.
You’re right…you need to have some regular girls nights and refresh yourself and figure out who you are outside being your children’s mother or your Husband’s wife. Who is Jane?
Motherhood is an ongoing adventure. We never totally let go of the strings. You’ve created two very independent and talented young men. So proud of you.
Jane, like the others have said, you are a great mom and part of the job description is worrying about your kids. Because you love them and want to protect them from life’s ups and downs. Have faith that you have taught them well and they know you are always there if they need you. I remember my mom, after getting off the phone with my brother, asked me when she could retire from momhood. My answer? When she was six feet underground LOL. Momhood is a lifetime sentence ;). I know you’ll always be a great mom.
Good to hear from you again
I have always been told, small children, small problems, big children, big problems.
Love that you’re back to blogging. It’s so much more personal than Facebook posts. I’ve got three children and three grandchildren. My daughter and her family live thousands of miles away and while we get together as often as we can that is usually no more than a couple of times a year. I miss them dreadfully when they’re not here, offer loads of probably unwanted advice Nd fret about them often but amazingly they seem to cope all by themselves and that makes me realise we must have done something right when we were raising them. I have one son living close by and even though we see him and his baby boy regularly I still worry about them when we’re apart.
What you’re feeling is normal. It says you’re a fabulous mother who loves her children. Like you I’d love to be able to spend more time with other women around my age but I rarely get the chance. Replying to your blog makes me feel as though I’ve connected with you so thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity.
Hi Jane – We’re always questioning ourselves as moms, aren’t we? Instead of believing you have somehow set them back by loving them so much, I’d say your love has made them feel safe enough to say, “I need help. This isn’t working and I don’t know what to do/I need to make a change.” Having that confidence to ask for help and the relationship so that it’s you that they turn to – that’s a win. And yeah, we make mistakes but we are human, too. You have great kids and they are on the right track.
The kids aren’t totally gone, it’s just a new period of life. We’re always adjusting.
And I think some girl time is called for – not work related, just have some fun, some conversation, time to just be Jane.
Dads miss their children too. I wish I could see one more dance recital, one more soccer game, etc. My three are 33, 38, and 42 this year. Anytime that I see, text, call, email, Instagram, or FaceTime with any of them… It’s a better day. Every day, I pray great lives for each of them. I don’t have a foolproof, miracle remedy. I just keep praying. And I keep the communication open and functioning. Like you, I have faith. Take care, my friend.
Beautifully stated, Mr. Dad.
It’s hard letting them go. Even though two of my four are married, another in a serious relationship, I always feel better when I hear from them or see them or spend time with them. Keeping the lines of communication open and active is my best suggestion.
Jane, this post kind of teared me up remembering what my own empty nest felt like and the time it took to figure out who I was without them 24/7. Seriously, I imagined I had it handled with a career and everything but no… it took a while. There’s nothing wrong with loving that part of loving your kids- that part of you that worries for them, and helps them through their stuff. You will always be their go to person even if now, when they’re stretching their wings they resist their need for all that. And you will find yourself again. And here I am now in Texas living near my daughter and her family again loving being a grandma to our three grandkids. And the soccer games begin again. The great circle… hugs my friend.
It doesn’t matter how old my children are they will always be my babies. Two daughters and their families live close. One just around the corner. The family is actually living with us until their house is built. They have been with us a year and will probably be with us almost another year and will still live close. I have one daughter that lives about ten or twelve hours away. The one that I struggle with the most is my baby. He lives completely across the US from me. We don’t get to see him and his family very often and when we do it’s for really short periods of time. He does call me almost everyday. I pray everyday for my kids and their families. It’s hard to let go. At times it’s easier than others. My kids say that I will find something to worry about.
Jane, thanks for sharing. I can relate to much of what you say in terms of doubting you. At times I get to that point as well. There are times I fall so far down the ladder I fear I don’t have the strength to climb back up again. But, I do. Like you said, maybe we need to find women our own age to hang with or therapy to help us deal with some of what we go through. Through faith and good, solid friendship we will overcome. I’m glad you started the blog again. I missed it A LOT, we’ve got you.
Peace and love,
i struggle with alot of what you said. i am struggling with not being involved so much esp when the youngest two have mental health issues. finally after years of heightened worry, we have found medicines that help them; it also helps that they each live with an older sibling. on the flip side of that is people who don’t want to accept them for who and how they are; always making them doubt their progress. then the momma bear has to emerge once again.
I so understand how you are feeling. It’s so quiet when they go. And when they come back for a long while it’s an adjustment period, getting used to another person in the house. It doesn’t matter how much you love them the alone time becomes normal. Then they are off again and you have to readjust to the quiet. My oldest is the one that always returns, the youngest fights hard to maintain his independence and only comes home for a short visit once or twice a year. Right now we are once again in a quiet time. As the oldest left home again in March after being here for a couple of years. Thanks for sharing your story.
You have reminded me of my youngest’s first day in Kindergarten. I cried when leaving the school after bringing her to her classroom. Then something curious (to me) happened. I stepped outside into the sunshine, got in my car, and suddenly realized I had the house to myself for the first time in years. I fist pumped the air and truly enjoyed those few hours till I picked both our kids up at lunchtime.
Bottom line is that many stages in life have something you think is negative, but also something you think is positive (the glass is half empty AND full). It just takes a while to find those positives sometimes. They will come. Trust me – and know you are not alone.
BTW, I have missed you on your blog. Welcome back!
My son starts college this fall. In fact he moves in Friday. While he’s attending a college literally the other side of the city, we thought the first year moving in would be best. He could make friends, immerse himself in the college life. Now I am second guessing it. However I feel like keeping him here, I will never let go. So I can understand, in a way, what you are going through. I am glad you started this again! Thank you!! <3
You are perfectly normal! It doesn’t matter how old your children are, we always worry about them. Sometimes the problems are small ones, and others are life changing. We just hope that the way we raised them, gives them a good foundation. Like you have done with yours.
Isn’t it interesting that there are so many books on infancy care and toddler development but there is this yawning void about coming to terms with adult children and how to be a successful parent to them? It is a transition of roles for both them and you, and perhaps made more difficult for you as you do have a younger child that requires a more involved parent. Best thoughts to you as you travel this new road.
My son went to college in 2013 and hasn’t returned home. He does visit but I mean he hasn’t moved back home. He has a great job 2 hours from us (also the city where he went to college) so it’s not like he’s THAT far away but I struggle with the distance on a daily basis. I miss him being home so very much. I always ask, when he does come home for a visit, if he’d consider moving back. Yes, I have issues. I’m well aware of that but I never thought it would be so hard to watch him go and spread his wings.
My daughter turns 20 in 2 days and still lives at home. That is probably the only thing that has helped even the smallest amount with my son not living with us. I dread the day when she moves out.
I’m incredibly attached to my kids, so much so that I know it’s one of the reasons my son has stayed where he is.
I only hope that both my children will choose to raise their (eventual) families within driving distance. Oh, my heart.
I’ve missed your personal blogs, Jane. I have a six-and 12-year-old and I actually always keep in mind that I’m preparing them to be independent and good citizens of this planet with with my voice constantly in their ears saying either “You can do it!” or “Are you sure that’s what Mama would approve of?” It’s that strong Italian mother guilt I inherited. I just remember that my own mother was horrible with that transition between our childhood and adulthood years. (She was overly hurt a lot and then distant to the point of not talking to me for six months.) I’m trying to prevent that in me. (We’ll see!!)
HI Jane, I know where you are coming from. At least you have your writing. I have been a stay at home mom since my first baby was born in 1986. My second came in 1991. in 1998 at the tender age of 7 my youngest was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes so I shifted into caretaker mode on top of being a mom. Both daughters live on the other end of the state now,so I rarely see them anymore. My youngest comes home once a year and my oldest tries to visit every few months. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease ( very rare) the week of Mother’s day this year. last year she was diagnosed with Type !.5 diabetes and she has been Hypothyroid since her Junior year in college. Her health is very scary now. I wish I lived closer. Her fiancee is a really great guy as Steph has said they had to grow up really fast since the diagnosis. I am dealing with the guilt of not being able to help her more. I look at you Jane, and see how much you do and accomplish, it simply amazes me. You write, publish , travel and have a great group of guys that love you. Plus, all us fans out here on the net. All we can do is just try to do the best we can. I try to remember that.
I can so relate, Jane. When my oldest son was about to graduate high school, I couldn’t fathom the thought of being an empty nester so I adopted. Mind you my kids go from 9-27 now, but I love having my babies at home. My oldest is graduating from medical school this coming spring and the thought of him potentially living in another state to do his residency has my stomach in knots. I so wish we lived closer so we could spend time and take our minds off of our grown up kids.
BTW, I’m so glad you’re blogging again and making it more personal. xoxo
Hi Jane – it is so great to see you blogging again! I am sure it’s hard to see your boys leave home but the fact that they are trying new paths after a bumpy go is a testament to how you have raised them! I hope this year is smoother for everyone and you are able to get back to your writing and doting on Mac!
I’m not a mother yet but I do know that you are doing the best you can. You love your sons and I don’t think loving some can be bad for them.
Some kids need more time to find their way in life and it’s nit always easy to leave home.
Don’t be hard on yourself, just try to be there for them and let them know you ate there for them no matter what.
Hang in there, Jane. I can totally relate to the emptiness you have experienced. I know I was supposed to feel so proud and happy as each of my three launched, and I did, but I also felt abandoned and useless. It was as if my life’s work had suddenly been ripped away, and was supposed to not feel anything about that. Letting go is never easy, but it helps them, and us, when we do. They respect us for what they see us doing to find joy in our own lives. Yes, you need to hang out with other women, and I’d be happy to be one of them. (Come visit! )
So glad you’re blogging again! Parenting is hard no matter what the age. I think there’s just more written about the younger years and perhaps even more support for parents of young children. Kids are growing and going through changes, and we are changing too. The best part of parenting is seeing your children soar (even with bumps along the way-no one is perfect) and the worst is that we have to deal with the fact that they are soaring without us. It’s such a balance of letting them live their life, be accountable, and yet be supportive. I think parents are always learning.
I think you have accomplished more than you think you have.
Mothering the “grown and flown” adult children isn’t easy. It can break your heart, but you hang in there. You still love them, do for them, help them without over-doing for them. You’ll find the happy medium.
Hang in there. We’re all in this together.