empty nest looming larger

by Sharon Santoni

mother and child, painting by mary cassat

Today my fourth and  youngest baby (OK so he’s nearly 18 and he measures 6’3, but you know what I mean)  starts his end of high school exams, and  I am faced with yet another sign of the nest becoming inevitably empty.

Of course I am happy to see my boy set off confidently to his tests; I am happy to help him make plans for travelling with friends this summer, and for his studies away from home next year, and of course I knew all this would happen …. but it still feels like someone pulled the rug out from beneath my feet.

Don’t get me wrong.  I realise that I will appreciate having more time to call my own and my husband and I look forward to travelling together and doing stuff just for us, but still ….

Why is it that the empty nest thing strikes so deep in us?   Is it just because we love the material side effects of having our offspring around us:  shoes in the hallway, the busy dinner table, the untidy bedrooms   (who knew that I’d actually dread finding a tidy room?!);   is it because the running around (taking them here, picking them up from there) which makes us feel needed;  is it the physical comfort of putting our arms around those shoulders and  whispering something sweet; or could it be those simple chores (the laundry, the cooking, the tidying) which are all part of our pleasure as the home maker and carer?

Or could it just be ….  and I’m speaking to you now as if you were sitting in my kitchen, sharing a coffee ….  could it just be that what gets us the most is that sinking awareness that we were only given the one shot at raising our kids?

These children are lent to us for a little less than twenty years and it feels like twenty minutes.    We do our best, nearly every day, we feel like we are doing the maximum, but of course we could always have done a bit more.  Our children’s younger years, are like the rest of life, they are not a dress rehearsal.  What is done and not done remains for ever.

I talk about this with my kids, and they just laugh and tell me not to be dumb, and assure me they had a great childhood, and everything is cool, but still I’d quite happily go back 25 years and sign up for a second go!

So why am I telling you this today?   Firstly, because I like to chat with you, and I love to hear your viewpoint too, and secondly because from my perch on the edge of this nest,  if I were with a young mum right now, I’d squeeze her hand, and smile,  and mouth the words:

“savour….. every….. minute”

Painting by Mary Cassat, nobody potrays women and children quite like her


Irena June 17, 2015 - 3:29 pm

Sharon they never really leave. As they go older they come back in a wonderful way and become your friend as well as your child. My baby is 30 and has just moved back in and it’s like she never left. Your feelings are totally normal . When you have grandchildren it all comes back again . You deserve a break. Enjoy being you for a while. Love the blog.

Nathalie June 17, 2015 - 10:02 pm

Hello Sharon,

First, I love to read you and the way you put words on all those feelings. I really understand what you feel.
My daughter is 17th, and this year it’s the first part of her final exam. We still have one year with her at home but I begin to tell myself that I have to enjoy this time where we are all four at home. For a long time, we think we have a lot of time in front of us and at a moment we realize it’s tomorrow !
I wish your son a nice final exam and nice holidays with his friends !

Laurie June 20, 2015 - 3:52 pm

Thank you for posting on this subject. Anticipating my baby’s move to campus in August somehow frightens me and threatens who I have been the past eighteen years… I would start over and do it all again in a heartbeat if I were younger…the best years of my life! Xoxox

Dewena June 17, 2015 - 3:40 pm

Oh my goodness, yes. I sit in church and watch a young family in front of me and want to say: “Be patient, just look at how adorable they are, enjoy those sweet children today when you’re home feeding them lunch and putting them down for naps. These days go so quickly!”

When our fourth child left for college it was like each of them leaving home again. I had so many mixed feelings, the same as you. You wrote so beautifully about this experience!

Denise June 17, 2015 - 3:40 pm

Dear Sharon,
They do grow up and leave and its hard mine did. But was is ahead will be wonderful. It will another journey when they find partners and bring home the grandchildren. That is a wonderful journey. I love it.

Eileen June 17, 2015 - 3:42 pm

How I long for the days when my children were young. Busy and happy(at least most of the time) . But our job is to give them roots so they can fly confidently . AND : sometimes they return with their own children for you to love and cherish. Grandparenting is one of the best jobs there is!

sheri June 17, 2015 - 3:44 pm

They were brought up with love and it will come back tenfold….My daughter sees me more now ( practically daily since my grandson was born) and has a greater appreciation for our relationship….wait and see…there is a new wonderful horizon looming!

Donna clark June 17, 2015 - 3:52 pm

Sharon, I so feel your ( emotional) pain. I well remember my now 24 year old, 6’3 son just crying so heartbrokenly at the bay window of our home when he was just a toddler every time I left our home for any reason. As I drove away, more times than not I found myself crying as well!
I too often find myself questioning was I as good a parent as I should have been? My two children say the same things to me as yours do.
When my first child was born a friend said to me ” now you know the secret all us mothers know” and I do. It’s that unerring and all emcompassing love we’ll carry in our hearts forever. Thank you for the reminder!

Suzanne June 17, 2015 - 3:55 pm

Sharon, I’m 63, and my heart still sings when I think of the my time with my children before they headed off to college. I had three in diapers, and life was hectic and sometimes grueling. Sometimes I failed to be the mother I wanted to be. But, we spent time together that is still cherished and stored away in my heart and soul. I, too, remember the ache of the tidy rooms. As others have said, there is much joy ahead. I needed my mom for as long as she was on the earth, and would love to talk with her now. So…..bless you as you move through this glorious time.

Jacqueline June 17, 2015 - 3:55 pm

I never felt the empty nest sadness. I was so excited for them, going away to college. I loved my college experience and I was hoping they would too. I felt I was reliving (from a safe distance) that experience. It was fun to hear them talk about it when they came home. But Sharon, never fear. They have a tendency to come back for a while. Between jobs. Looking for a job. Saving money. Whatever, they’re back!
I did have a question though. All my French friends’ kids lived at home for college and in face I thought that was almost always the case. You get assigned a college near your home so you live at home (or is that just Paris)?
Loved the post and there’s no doubt of the wonderful relationship you have with your “kids”.

betsy austin June 17, 2015 - 3:56 pm

You spoke right too me. My third and only girl age 18 is heading off in the fall as well.
We are so close and like sisters in many ways.
They do come back , but in a differnet way.
Good luck to your son!
I am hoping to come to Paris for an antique buying trip and would love to come to your place!
You are welcome in Houston .
I am a big fan of your blog and instagram.
Betsy Austin

Cindy June 17, 2015 - 3:56 pm

Both of my children, now in their mid-twenties, live a distance from me. We talk on the phone, text, email etc…..but it’s not the same. I have learned to respect their adult choices and try not to offer advice unless asked. But they are doing well and most importantly, they are happy and building their lives.

I think what I miss most is the buzz of energy they brought to the home. There was busyness, questions, conversations, friends, activities, driving lessons and more than a few tears. I must admit I miss them dearly. But I also enjoy the quiet they have left me with.

Rebecca Hively June 17, 2015 - 3:57 pm

Oh so very true! I’ve felt so many of those same things and yes, it stays with you for a long time! Fortunately, all three of my sons live close by so we get to see them often and babysit the lovely nine grandchildren they have blessed us with!

Phyllis June 17, 2015 - 4:00 pm

Thank you.

Vicky from Athens June 17, 2015 - 4:00 pm

Sharon – I agree with Irena . . . they never really leave. And we never quit being moms. Our goal in life (or at least mine was) where our kids are concerned is to raise confident, independent young adults who can stand on their own two feet and make good decisions when the time comes for them to leave the nest. I think it bothers us so because we know that we’re starting a new chapter in our own personal book – actually it’s the beginning of a new book! – and we think “what am I going to do with myself?” And it is sort of scary. But not for long! Sitting on the sidelines isn’t such a bad place to be while we watch them take control of their lives and their futures.

Dianne Adams June 17, 2015 - 4:02 pm

So natural to worry and fret over this milestone in life–did we do enough, what we wouldn’t do to recapture time lost with them, redo times we were impatient. Grandchildren give us that opportunity to savor nothing but time, patience and love with and for them. I often think we should be grandparents first-ha!! It teaches us things we miss in our youthful parenting stages. But to everything there is a season. Enjoy each one.

Susan Gabriel June 17, 2015 - 4:14 pm

Sharon, a beautiful post about what us Mothers hold inside our hearts. The line about twenty years is only twenty minutes is so true and scratches the insides. You are blessed to have a few baby bears to say goodbye to in intervals. My only baby bear went away 3,000 miles to med school and the day he left I could have sworn an organ was torn out of my body. But 14 years later we are closer than ever, he has two sons of his own and a beautiful wife that has become the daughter I never had. Life blesses us daily if we are grateful. Thank you for the reminders.

Susan Gabriel
Gabriel Papers

Erika Vazquez June 17, 2015 - 4:17 pm

I am a young mum. Mum to a three year old little boy and your post brought tears to my eyes.

Marielle June 17, 2015 - 4:23 pm

Very well said. Yet, I personally have enjoyed the college and adult years the most. Meeting up for dinner, listening to their stories, meeting new friends. And then, the engagements and marriages, grand babies, first homes. So many and varied experiences to share. Our oldest lived in Europe for 12 years, and thus began our extended travels.

There is a second chance. It’s called “grandchildren.” And, we get to lend perspective to their parents while indulging the little ones like we never did our own. The great delight the little ones show when we arrive is unbeatable. We get to teach, guide, encourage, and love this new generation with even more energy than we did our children–because we’ve finally arrived at a more carefree and insightful period of our lives.

You are so right in encouraging others to “savor every minute” but those minutes are not ending. Just changing. And, change is good.

Esther George June 17, 2015 - 4:41 pm

Hi Sharon, my daughter left home about ten years ago that was tough but it made our relationship stronger as for my son he will be 18 in a few months, you see I had him when I turned 41 (there is a 19 year gap) and he is my baby it’s going to be tough letting go. I guess all we can do is the best we can for them, and they know that we will always be there for them. I find I’m more emotional about my kids now that I’m older and wiser. Thank you for sharing. Till next time regards Esther from Sydney. PS that was a great cup of coffee.

Donna Loffredo June 17, 2015 - 4:58 pm

I so understand your heart and mind at this time in your life. Fear not, other rewards will come and as I look back on my children’s lives ( they are now 37 and 34 years old) I recall that I have cherished and enjoyed them at every stage through the years. Now have two geandchildren to love as well. Be well and relish it all – tears, joy, nostalgia… All part of the journey.

I so enjoy your writing and lovely photos – thank you.

Cecelia Weeks June 17, 2015 - 5:15 pm

As most mothers, I always worried how I would deal with my empty nest, but in my case, the transition has come in baby steps. My oldest lived at home through college. When he married, he moved into the apartment upstairs in my two-family home. When we all moved on from there, his family now only lives 4 blocks away and I am blessed to be able to spend frequent and precious time with my grandson. My youngest son has never left the nest, but, when he is gone for any extended space of time, I rattle around in the silence. My biggest difficulty is that I have to keep reminding myself that, at 25, he is a grown man and not the sweet little boy that I had to keep tabs on! He is very considerate about keeping me informed about his schedule, but when it gets late I have to fight with myself not to call and check on him. I used to laugh at my mother for waiting up for me when I was back home for a visit! But our babies are always our babies…no matter how old they get or how far away they go. And we wouldn’t want it any other way, would we?

Lori June 17, 2015 - 5:18 pm

I am the baby of my friends, and my oldest goes to college this fall. Part of me is excited and anxious to see what God does with him, and part of me looks back at all the fun and sweet moments I have had with him including the moments I feel I could have done better. I am fortunate in that he will live at home the first year of school, but I will still have to strike the balance between the mom I have always been and the mom of an adult.

May June 17, 2015 - 5:25 pm

Prayers for your happiness
With time the empty nest sorrow wears away like a beautiful pebble in a brook. There will be days when a pebble is in your shoe, and others when one is there to meditate smiles on as it glistens in the sun and water as life flows your way.

Penny June 17, 2015 - 5:27 pm

There is light at the end of the tunnel. They are out of the house for awhile, but soon enough there will be marriages and new family members to welcome in, and the best of all the grandbabies! And by that time you will relish your time with them, and be happy when they take their kids to their own homes. I hope they will end up close by you!

frenchimmersion June 17, 2015 - 5:33 pm

Goodness, You are very lucky to have a child going confidently off to his Bac. I think many of us are feeling every moment of anguish and despair in the lead-up to each exam, and the their fear of doing badly afterwards!! Last night I was wishing for an empty house so my daughter could revise in peace, and not be disturbed by younger siblings!
I see their imminent departure as exciting, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Life’s rich journey develops here right in front of our eyes, and also far from them. But we get to live it vicariously. I’m quite happy not to re-live those early years again, did I improve by the forth time round – I fear not, but at least I can enjoy the memories.

Nancy June 17, 2015 - 5:45 pm


Your thoughts are expressed beautifully for all Moms. I had twins, boy and girl, now 42, and when they left for college, I felt bereft but happy for them. I had raised them as single Mom as divorced when they were teenagers. They are now very happy & successful with partners & 1 and only 7 yr old grandson. They all continue to be my kids, with hills and valleys of challenges and delights! It is so nice to be close in emotions but also in distance and I adore them and miss them but glad to have what times we have together. One a Mom always a Mom and hopefully a grandMom! Joy & peace to you. Enjoy going forward; it’s a great journey. ❌⭕️

Teresa Pepler June 17, 2015 - 5:48 pm

Dear Shanon, how strange that you had to post this 2 days after my daughter left for France. She is taking up yachting, been my right hand lady in the guesthouse, running it for me for 3 years! On top of it all we are best of friends, she is 28 and really a beautiful girl( in and outside) but she needs this experience and I am so happy for her to see the world this way. In South Africa lots of graduates are travelling this way because it is very expensive for us to travel with the weak rand and on top of it visas! But this is not the reason for my reply. I just want to share prophet Kahlil Gibran : ” You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with his might that His arrows may go swift and far.Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

Patty/NS June 17, 2015 - 6:06 pm

If I could go back I would do it over definitely. Divorced when he was 3 and on our own we are incredibly close. Even with one child I went through the empty nest syndrome twice, once when after high school he left to go to college in another province and then remained there for work. The second time when he moved back to our city and his stepdad and I bought our seaside house completely on the other side of Canada. It was so hard and still is, I wondered if I felt the loss more than I thought I would as he is an only child? It will take time for you to adjust, allow yourself to grieve, that is what it felt like for me, I cannot find a better word to describe it. Enjoy the journey wishing all of the very best.

Karena June 17, 2015 - 6:07 pm

Sharon, I find part of it is little things like calling the kids and right away they want to know if anything is wrong, when you just want to chat!
The Arts by Karena
Closer by Michael Clinton

Donna Baker June 17, 2015 - 6:15 pm

I was devastated when each child left, though they were spaced quite a ways apart. Funny though, when they started coming back, little things like doing their laundry, and all the other stuff was becoming a chore and I’d think, gee, it’s not so bad when they leave after all.

Dianne Sawyer June 17, 2015 - 6:29 pm

Your chickadees can confidently fly off into the world because you were a good mom, and because of the connection you have they will come back often. I’m now watching my daughter go through the empty nest syndrome. Her first son has left and the second is beginning to stretch his wings. Thank God the third one is still a little too young to take flight. The cycle continues and it’s both a little heartbreaking and exciting.

Sally June 17, 2015 - 7:08 pm

They grow up and are gone in the blink of an eye. While raising my son I thought that intense mothering would never end and then suddenly he was off to college! I would certainly love to go back and have a second go at mothering–to be a better mother. I’m not sure quite how I would change things: I had to work, go to graduate school, take care of my own mother until she passed….life happens!
Even now, after my son comes for a visit, I miss him when he leaves.
It goes seem to get easier and your life will change and grow in different ways.
Savor every minute is certainly what we should do <3

PEGGY BRASWELL June 17, 2015 - 7:17 pm

I so feel like you do Sharon + grand babies will ease that pain! I promise. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

Geraldine June 17, 2015 - 7:23 pm

A lovely post,I too have had the privilege to share many happy years with our 4 amazing sons.My husband and I spent our lives bringing the boys up, giving them the best childhood we could,walks,picnics,camping, games,seaside trips,then supporting them through education, college, university,jobs.Every evening taking them to sports,clubs and friends.Life was incredibly busy,house hectic and we struggled to adapt to our new lives,when the youngest left home. I was devastated,all I ever wanted was to be a mum,share parenting and a wife.My husband and I now enjoy time together,travel,hobbies.But what we have now gained is treasured quality time week ends, holidays with 4 stunning sons,they are all incredibly close, kind, loving ,pursuing good jobs and happy lives.They have now given us 4 gorgeous girls,wife’s /girlfriends, our daughters and we are also the delighted grandparents of two gorgeous little grandsons.This weekend we are all going to celebrate another wedding our 3rd son. Life has changed, I miss my sons, the busy life,but it has become richer because they are all happy and have brought beautiful people to our family.You will miss him but will gain a treasured life ahead,enjoy !!

Lynne Redding June 17, 2015 - 7:40 pm

Good Morning Sharon from California.

I am sitting here drinking my morning coffee and feel like I am in your kitchen having this conversation. I remember my mom saying to me when I’d fly home for a visit for the holidays…”You may be 30 yrs old, but you will always be my baby.”

Brings tears to my eyes to remember, as she has long passed on. But the point is that your children, though chomping at the bit to be on their own, as I was, will always have the confidence to return home to a loving and caring Mom and Dad.

Enjoy the “temporary” peace and quiet, for pretty soon you WILL get a chance to “Do it all over again”….it’s called Grand-parenting!


Kathryn June 17, 2015 - 7:41 pm

…but then, my dear, they give us grand kids. And THAT is an unbeatable delight!

Lorrie June 17, 2015 - 7:53 pm

Life has many different stages. Each one has its pluses and minuses. The empty nest is a hard stage and it stays hard for a long time. Now my children are grown, married and 2 of them have children of their own. Those grandchildren are shining lights of love. I delight in them so much. But you know, I still look back with longing on the years when the children were at home, in their teens, and the house bustled with activity. However, I couldn’t have had the grandchildren until the children left home. I’ve learned (am learning) to enjoy each stage with its accompanying joys and trials.
The child raising years are so short in comparison to the length of life. Yet they seem so long in the midst of toddlers and diapers and school days.

Taffy June 17, 2015 - 8:17 pm

Well, you certainly hit the spot judging from the reactions! Having my one and only leave last year for college has been wonderful. Hearing her come back and say, ” now I appreciate how much we traveled abroad, etc” is one of the many benefits. Like any other change, it has its adjustments. And as an older mother ( I had her at 43) I can wholeheartedly agree about savoring every moment! Ad a mature mother I knew that, and still it whizzed by. Just trying to be “present” every moment!

cindy hattersley June 17, 2015 - 8:28 pm


I so remember that feeling when my daughter (my last baby) went off to college. I thought our life would be so empty. She filled our house with a boat load of kids that were our extended family. Ironically my husband and I really enjoyed having more time to ourselves etc. We adjusted very quickly!!

Jen Owens June 17, 2015 - 10:31 pm

Oh Sharon… you have touched my heart today! You are right, they are young such a short time. I too would re-inlist and do it all over again without too many changes- I’m happy to say. I do miss the daily interaction with our boys, rides in the car w/ impromptu conversations or quiet times at night knowing they are safe in their beds but they are making their place in the world & I am excited to see them take their journeys. Now it’s your turn… traveling, setting your schedule & being a couple again. It’s a new chapter- enjoy! XO ~j

Donna Ritchie June 17, 2015 - 10:40 pm

Your post really touched me. My baby is now expecting her first baby and I can’t believe the flight of time. If only I knew then what I know now….those finger prints & dirty floors could wait til later. They’re going to be grown before you’re ready to let go. 🙁

Katharine Doel June 17, 2015 - 11:48 pm

Have never posted here and this is probably not typical of what you usually receive. Your post today brought to my mind the work of Donald Winnicott, a brilliant and beloved British psychoanalyst who started his career as a pediatrician. His observations of mothers (usually the primary caretakers at that time) interacting with their infants and children, led him to study psychoanalysis. He wroted extensively and often referred to the “good enough mother.” In other words there is no perfect mother, nor should there be.
From reading your lovely and loving blog post today, I suspect you were one of those who were “good enough.” Best regards, Katharine

suzana borlovan June 18, 2015 - 12:54 am

Oh how this has hit an emotional cord in me, when my last child moved out of home to spread her wings I felt obsolete. It was January 9th 3 years ago, and I cried for the whole month, my husband couldn’t understand my sadness and my loss. I knew she would be back to visit but it was my last baby, no-one to clean up after, no-one to tell to tidy up her room, no-one to wait up late at night when she was still out. Strange I know but that’s how I felt, and I am so blessed that both my babies love coming home to spend time with us.

Gigi Harlan June 18, 2015 - 1:29 am

I have been an empty nester for about 10 years now and oh how I miss having my babies around. I think back and worry that I did not do enough and my kids too say I am being dump and we talk about the great moments together and smile. Now I have grandchildren and they too are growing so fast and slipping away much too soon. But is was after my children left home that I was able to foster my love for my art and travel with my husband and that too is something to be treasured! Enjoy all that is ahead!

Colleen Taylor June 18, 2015 - 1:41 am

Sharon, you have so many people answering this today that it must have struck a big cord. Oh Yes, I do remember how terribly painful it was when my first went off to college. At first I was so happy she was leaving because she made life a little difficult in her last year of high school. Then after I drove her all the way to school & as I got in the car to drive 10 hours to go home, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I held those tears back because I couldn’t see the road. The sorrow lasted a month until she got testy with me on the phone, then I was over it. With the 2nd, he was closer to home so I could drive an hour to see him easier. I moved on & I’d rather have it this way now. Do over, you bet, in a heartbeat. X

Lynne B. June 18, 2015 - 2:09 am

I remember that sad feeling. Now they are 36, 33 and 30 and still treat this place like home. They are wonderful, caring adults and my good friends, so I’m pleased I got it right!
Wait till the grandchildren arrive Sharon, so much fun. I feel deja vu a lot as I watch them
teach and interact with their children.

Katherine June 18, 2015 - 2:28 am

And this is why the saying ‘they grow up so fast’ is the most used phrase directed to new parents.
My children were barely out of the house and I was adjusting (and enjoying) the extra time to myself…. then, their lives began to blossom. Suddenly the house was noisy again with a grand baby. But I remember my fear when they spread their wings and left home – I imagine they were afraid too.
You’re a good Mom (that is evident from the stories you share with us) – your children will always be close.

Marilyn June 18, 2015 - 2:47 am

Why is it we don’t realize savoring every minute until the minutes are ready to fly. Life does change and then there are grandchildren to play with soon enough.

Iris June 18, 2015 - 3:20 am

A do over. Absolutely!! With all the knowledge and wisdom we have now it should be a breeze. But no fear soon enough you will hopefully be blessed with grandchildren. They give you a unique opportunity to feel that amazing love and nurturing feeling you thought was lost forever. Life is full of changes. Our job is to embrace these changes and continue to move forward.

Kerrie June 18, 2015 - 4:30 am

Your post made me cry. I feel exactly the same. Then I read all the replies and kept crying. It’s hard being a mum

Ellen June 18, 2015 - 3:14 pm

Life has many stages and so does raising children. I learned early on not to “wish away” their childhood. With my first, I “wished” the diaper bag stage to be over, then the pre-school years. With my second, who is four years younger, I realized that each stage, while having challenges all their own, was very precious and would never be captured again. So I struggled through the challenges but embraced the stages. Now, at 32 and 27, I miss so many of those good times – summer vacations, never-ending sports (they were both active in 3 sports), all the goofy friends who used to congregate at our house because we had so much room for them to roam around, have bonfires and football games. And yes, my youngest son still lives with me because he was unable to find steady employment. Now, however he is working for a good company and looks to be moving out soon. But that’s ok, it is time for him to start making his own nest!

LA CONTESSA June 18, 2015 - 4:56 pm

You expressed that VERY well………..I had the same feelings and just yesterday said to a young thing at exercise…….ENJOY it ALL.It goes so FAST!
Looks like YOU have filled the VOID………………with many projects!
Enjoy your time as in the future my guess is you will be needed for the GRANDBABIES!!!
AT this point I have Granddogs and a GRAND PIGGY………………that might be it for me!

Diane June 18, 2015 - 5:34 pm

In the beginning empty nesting can be very unsettling. In my case it brought with it many changes i.e. selling our home, moving into a smaller place etc. But with time it becomes pleasant. After all, it is the natural order of things. And I so enjoy interacting with my daughter as an adult and, while you will always worry, letting her make her own decisions and watching with pride as she has become that woman I worked so hard to help create throughout all my parenting years. And now, 27 years later, we are planning her wedding and are truly best friends. So I am here to tell you that it will be painful, you will cry and feel lost for a while but, very quickly it will be your new norm and you will begin to enjoy those special moments with your husband, a clean and tidy home and freedom to come and go as you please….finally!!
Congrats to your son as well.

Marian from UK June 18, 2015 - 6:13 pm

Oh how I sympathise! But it’s not an ending or a leaving. Both my children and my stepchildren are now in their 30’s and long moved out. But I would say that you absolutely must enjoy what will ultimately be a short time with just your husband and you and in doing things for you. As with their growing up and fledging, the time they are actually away will fly past and before you know it, you’ll have son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws to welcome and then beautiful babies – and oh how that will hit you!! All your maternal instincts will come rushing back in as you hold your first grandchild! And your daughters will need you when they become mothers. A new closeness will grow as you share an experience that only women can. The joy of seeing your babes growing into happy adults is your reward for being the perfect mother for them. The hardest thing is stepping back and not giving too much advice, of watching them make mistakes and keeping quiet. But we did it and we came through, so they will too.
Go out and blog your heart out, travel with your husband and become that young couple again! Enjoy!!

Sheila in SF June 18, 2015 - 8:32 pm

Oh so sweet and well said. A good reminder for young parents. So I forwarded your post to my daughters. But your life will have many more wonderful times and joys to look forward to.

cheryl Cusack June 18, 2015 - 9:41 pm

I feel your angst.. My son turns 18 next week and if off to university overseas… I live in Toronto, Canada and my son (Samson) is off to Kings College London. As much as I am excited for him to spread his wings & explore I am very nervous…I still have my daughter home for another 2 yrs yet I like yourself have entered another stage in my life….

Laura June 18, 2015 - 9:50 pm

Hi Sharon,
Thanks for your lovely post! I am the mom of three – 16, 13, and 9 yearS. Between swim team, water polo, baseball, dance classes, summer camps, musical rehearsals…the list goes on and on…I feel like I’m drowning sometimes! Not to mention the volunteer work we do to try and help – it’s just all so busy and I feel like I’ll never catch up! The laundry is never done! It’s hard to imagine that this stage of life will ever end.
Surely you’ve had those years, but you remind me that the end is looming. My oldest has her drivers license now and it’s time to look for colleges – I can see how she is doing her “own things” and becoming more independent. I know it’s the natural progression of things – we wouldn’t want it any other way- but it’s like the bandaid is slowly being ripped off.
Your kind readers encouraged me by reminding us how it’s not all bad, and things can change but still be good!

Someone once told me that the days are long, but the years are quick. So true!

Enjoy your time, good luck to your son, and see the good side of it all – things could be so much worse!

Laura in Naperville, IL USA

joel June 19, 2015 - 1:27 am

so good and so true- one chance. luckily you have more love for your chicks then anyone could so everything else is just moot. I can tell you I would have loved to grow up in your home next to your heart.

thank you for sharing- love you and miss you.


Jess June 19, 2015 - 6:39 am

Ah yes, I become ambivalent when I think of my son leaving home, again. Now that he is 24- I am always amazed when he sounds so adult, mature, funny, opinionated, social…..cause in a flash of a moment he can also show his teenage self. I would love to clean up his “stinky” room but he would prefer I not invade his space-so I leave it alone because soon he will be on his own once he finishes his degree and this might be the last time we live “together”.

Barbara June 19, 2015 - 6:54 pm

When the last one left home – so did I – I just could not deal with them not coming through the door at night. I traveled and worked in another country for a while and it was a good thing. I learned to be me again and to appreciate the newer parts of me that grew there expressly because they were a part of my life. So instead of mourning the empty nest, I got some perspective and had an adventure. I’m back home now and redefining my nest to suit my style – which is how I found your blog. Keep it up – you are wonderful at it! I do love French Country Style…

Mary/Indiana June 20, 2015 - 2:00 am

Even knowing you and your Hubby have plans in place, the inevitable day of empty nesters brings a melancholy that can best be described as The End of a Big Chunk
of Your Lives, namely Child Rearing! I was thrilled to discover Me again! Our marrital relationship improved without the constant interruptions of busy teenage lives. It was a time for us, again….which my Hub described as the Calm before the Storm, namely, Grandchildren! Oh but what a thrill being a Grandparent! The Best reward is yet to come!

Debra June 20, 2015 - 5:48 pm

Yep, this is how I feel. I loved every minute & can’t imagine a home in the next few years empty without them. Fighting tears now, oh, how life changes. Every minute is precious.

Rosalind June 20, 2015 - 6:17 pm

Hi Sharon – I think you’ve captured for me what the poignancy of the empty nest is – the feeling that one could have done it all so much better even though I know that I did the very best I could at the time and that we all do. My third child leaves at the end of August and I have had children at home now for forty years (son, daughter, son with an eleven year gap between each)! Also, as you say, it’s the knowledge that we can’t have a second go at it – except, in a way we can when grandchildren come along – I now have three – and I promise, it is a joy to look forward to and it is that second chance. Enjoy your time off! I’m a newcomer to your blog, by the way and loving it!

Ingrid Wilson June 21, 2015 - 9:27 pm

My daughters are 32 and 35 years old respectively, and like you I sometimes wonder whether I made the right decisions, whether I set the right example, and whether I always put them first, and yet I know that I did the best I could, and tried to be not only their mother but their friend and support no matter what they did. They know they are truly loved and that I will be there for them no matter what, even though they are both married now and one of them is a mother herself. You can never go back but rather enjoy the short time that you have with them, and look forward to the fun times ahead when they are no longer just your children but amazing independent adults.

Suzanne June 23, 2015 - 3:34 am

Sharon, you’ve obviously highlighted
a common bond that all of us moms
have ~ the letting go phase. In the
fall I’ll have a junior in college and a
junior in high school. My “baby” is
also 6’3″ at 16 and right now he’s at
the end of a 10-day trip school trip to
Italy, which has given us a taste of what
it will be like when he goes to college.
It was a big adjustment when our daughter
went away, but we adapted from four
to three and I’m sure we’ll do the same
when it’s three down to two : ) and you
will, too. In the meantime, hold that
baby boy close!

xo Suzanne


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