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  • Pamela Haefner

One Mama's Reflections on Empty Nesting


And just like that, he’s gone. Off to college. Flown the coop. I’ve been hit with an intense emotional change and shift in focus. Sure, I felt this a bit at the start of kindergarten, but as far as mama transitions go, this empty nest thing has been, by far, the most discombobulating. I have to say, it’s thrown me for a loop.


From the moment I knew of my first baby’s existence, my focus has been on him and taking care of myself in order to take care of him. Was he growing and healthy? Was I eating right and sleeping enough? Continuing to exercise so I was strong enough for his delivery?


That focus changed over time with needs shifting from feeding to making meals, from diapering to helping with the potty, from helping them regulate their emotions when upset to having in-depth conversations about managing conflicts with friends.


And just like that, it feels like that focus is gone. Or is it?


I was talking with my husband about this. His experience of this transition is very, very different than mine. I explained that if we do a good job parenting, then we work ourselves out of a job. Over the course of their development, we have helped our children become self-sufficient, independent adults. I told him that while we are still wanted, we are no longer needed. Where does that leave me after 21 years?


However, in our discussion, I came to see that while they are independent of me, there are still things they need from me and our relationship. They still need steady connection. They still need to know that someone has their back. They still need to feel loved and wanted and important to us.


So now I see, that while the house is intensely quiet and I feel a longing for the little (now very tall) buggers, I am not out of a job. I am not obsolete. It’s just one more shift in my mothering focus.

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