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Becoming an empty nester


 jrc1963 (original poster member #26531) posted at 12:39 AM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

How did you handle it?

My son, who is just barely 20 years old, is moving 1100 miles away to live in my grandmother's old house. While he plans to work full time and establish residency in the state so he can qualify for in-state tuition at the University there.

He's my only kid... he's been glued to my side since he popped outta me 20 years ago. We cook together, shop together, go on vacations together, go out to eat together. He does as much work around the house as me and FWSO.... He's FWSOs right hand man in the garage and doing home repairs and lawn work.

It's time for him to go be on his own... I know it is.

I don't even know what to ask here... I just want to know how others have handled it?

Me: BSO - 53Him: FWSO - 76 DS - 20 D-Day - 12-11-09, R - he finally came homeYour life is an Occasion. Rise to it. - Mr. Magorium, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"

posts: 26365   ·   registered: Dec. 14th, 2009   ·   location: Florida
id 8688878

lieshurt ( Moderator #14003) posted at 1:40 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

Honestly, it was pretty hard. My relationship with my son was much like yours. I cried a lot for the first few months. My son joined the Navy, so for the first 8 weeks I couldn't even call him. He called me twice. And then, he was in school and he was so busy studying that I still didn't hear from him all that often. I had to make a new normal for myself. I focused on new activities with my friends. I picked up old hobbies that I used to love to do. When I would feel down, I'd remind myself that my son was achieving his goals and pursuing his dreams. I've averaged seeing him once a year these past 3 years. We call each other weekly, sometimes a few times a week depending on what's going on. He's almost 25, but there are times he still needs mom.

You'll adjust. Moms always do. You'll figure out what your new normal will be. It will take some time, but you'll get there. Sending you big mom hugs hun (((jrc)))

No one changes unless they want to. Not if you beg them. Not if you shame them. Not if you use reason, emotion, or tough love. There is only one thing that makes someone change: their own realization that they need to.

posts: 22372   ·   registered: Mar. 20th, 2007   ·   location: Houston
id 8688950

scaredwoman ( member #78680) posted at 7:57 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

Mine just left a few weeks ago although much closer than yours. The first week or so I let myself cry and be miserable. Then I made a list of things I thought I'd enjoy and have slowly been working on the list. Thankfully I can drive up and visit whenever I want to but it's a slow process figuring out who "I" am since I've spent so many years identifying as a mom! And we're still moms but now we have new lives to live!

posts: 197   ·   registered: Apr. 20th, 2021
id 8689072

 jrc1963 (original poster member #26531) posted at 8:26 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

I have a feeling that I'll be following him to his destination soon... as I really want to move back to that area myself. Having him there would help me move. He probably won't stay where he's moving to now, as it's an in-between stop on his way to his ultimate goal of being a Dr in the Navy. But I think I could find more things to do with myself in that area than where I currently live. Also, my core group of friends are in that area.

After he leaves Michigan for Washington DC ( several years down the road) I don't see myself following. He'll be too busy at that point.

Lies.. I know your son is in the Navy and that's got to be even harder than what's coming for me. At least where DS is going there's easy access to phones, zoom calls, and frequent, cheap flights to a convenient airport.

He's going where I want to be... that makes this even a little bit harder.

Me: BSO - 53Him: FWSO - 76 DS - 20 D-Day - 12-11-09, R - he finally came homeYour life is an Occasion. Rise to it. - Mr. Magorium, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"

posts: 26365   ·   registered: Dec. 14th, 2009   ·   location: Florida
id 8689081

number4 ( member #62204) posted at 10:10 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

It's hard. I remember when we dropped our kids off at college... it felt so against my instinct as a parent to leave them so far away (they were each 700+ miles from home) without the security of having anyone we knew nearby. But you get used to it; when the oldest went away, it gave H the incentive to get a cell phone (he had previously resisted because he didn't want to be so reachable at work), and he would call her many times a month on his way home from work. Both kids, after college graduation, decided to settle far from home, one 1000 miles, and the other 2000 miles away (they each chose an opposite coast). It was hard, but at the time, we lived roughly halfway between the two, so it was convenient for get togethers. Three years ago we moved nearby the youngest daughter due to H taking a different direction in his career. We know she and her H won't stay in this area forever - they have different plans that will take them elsewhere. So when H retires, within 3-4 years, we will relocate to where older daughter is, because we know she wants to have children (younger one doesn't) and we want to be near grandchildren in retirement.

When we relocated three years ago, which meant we were now 3000 miles away from older daughter, I felt like I was abandoning her. I know... it sounds stupid, but I hated that we were now so much further away from her... she's in her mid 30s, and I still felt that way!!! When we eventually move to her end of the country, we will be 3000 miles from younger daughter, and I've started to prepare myself we won't see her very often... she doesn't have the resources to travel as freely as older daughter does, so if we want to see her, we will likely have to do most of the travel. I am dreading having to move away from her, but am looking forward to living close to older daughter.

I guess what I'm saying is, transitions of separation are just hard, no matter who is moving where, for what. It doesn't necessarily stop after they make that first big move, either for college, or other reasons. But you survive, and learn to live with a new normal. I'd give anything if both daughters lived in the same area (we tried to talk older daughter into relocating near us now, and if she did, we'd stay), but we raised them to be independent and encouraged them to make choices for themselves and not for us. They are not responsible for our feelings. So perhaps you can look at your son's move as a sign that you've raised a responsible, independent young man, and that should bring you a source of pride. Hang onto that feeling.

Me: BW
Him: WH
Married - 30+ years
Two adult daughters
1st affair: 2005-2007
2nd-4th affairs: 2016-2017
Many assessments/polygraph: no sex addiction
Status: R

posts: 844   ·   registered: Jan. 10th, 2018   ·   location: Southern California
id 8689094

 jrc1963 (original poster member #26531) posted at 1:38 PM on Saturday, September 18th, 2021

DS left at 6am this morning.

I'm holding it together so far.... better than I thought I would.

Me: BSO - 53Him: FWSO - 76 DS - 20 D-Day - 12-11-09, R - he finally came homeYour life is an Occasion. Rise to it. - Mr. Magorium, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"

posts: 26365   ·   registered: Dec. 14th, 2009   ·   location: Florida
id 8689151

little turtle ( member #15584) posted at 3:26 PM on Saturday, September 18th, 2021


Failure is success if we learn from it.

posts: 5460   ·   registered: Aug. 1st, 2007   ·   location: michigan
id 8689157

whatisloveanyway ( member #66450) posted at 10:48 PM on Saturday, September 18th, 2021

Sending you kind thoughts and empathy. I am very close to my two, and made being their mom my #1 identity after I retired to be a stay at home mom. I took all that energy I had put into my career into being the best mom I could figure out how to be, and to try to stop history from repeating itself with bad family mojo and the many poor life choices that I grew up witnessing and experiencing. Letting my kids go, and believing that I had taught them how to fly was incredibly hard and life altering. Almost like getting a demotion at work, because once they fly, they usually don't need you as much as you might hope.

I'm sure you have done your job well, your son will likely flourish and find his way. Worry will always be there because you are a mom, there's no changing that. What I recommend you do now, is watch all your hard work come to fruition as your son finds his way and becomes a grown up who can handle most of what life throws at him. Relish those moments he still needs his mom, but don't make too big a deal about it :) You will be amazed at how he continues to grow and change and find his way.

Your job now is to be his touchstone. Be there if he needs you and don't make him feel guilty if he doesn't. But keep your finger on the pulse of how his life is going. Be sure you check in with each other in whatever format he prefers. Trust me, instagram, snapchat and so many other apps were not something I picked, but my kids hang there and are gracious enough to include me in their online lives so I use them now too. We text, we talk, and they still come to us for advice which is awesome.

Remember all those things that made you a good/cool/fun mom? Go do more of those. All the things I shared with my kids - music, art, museums, nature, you name it... I do as much of that as I can fit in to my still busy empty nest life. I share all kinds of interesting stuff with my kids and surprisingly, they do the same right back at me.

It has been my greatest joy to watch them find their jobs, friends, hobbies, and build the lives we helped prepare them to live, and I hope you get the same feeling watching your son become a fine man. I grew up with a narcissistic needy and guilt mongering parent, so I vowed to be none of that with mine, all the way through, and I think that has paid off in spades. It has helped me let go, having witnessed how hard it is to be the vehicle for a parent to live vicariously through, and to be needed beyond what seems normal from a parent.

When they left, one more slowly and more painfully than the other, I was very sad, and I felt lost. So, I re-engaged with myself, my life and my friends and we were all doing so much better than I had hoped. Life was good, and I was on top of the world when mine fell to pieces discovering long term infidelity. The good news is that your discovery is behind you, so you can focus on yourself now, as you should, while your son makes his life his own. I hope you enjoy your new free time and his growing independence, and can be proud and comfortable that you did your job well. Best to you.

[This message edited by whatisloveanyway at 10:51 PM, Saturday, September 18th]

BW: 61 WH: 61 Both 57 on Dday. M: 34 years, 2 grown kids, 9 year Affair with MOW, 7 month False Recovery, year + trickle truth. I got rid of her. Reconciling, but the lies have piled up. Trying one more time. Sorry for the sticky shift key and typ

posts: 288   ·   registered: Oct. 9th, 2018   ·   location: Southeastern USA
id 8689209

sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 4:50 PM on Sunday, September 19th, 2021

This is a big win and a big loss. We're supposed to prepare our kids for adult life, and you've done that. That's the win. He's gone, and that's a loss.

You've had to structure your life around taking care of him, and you've lost that structure. At the same time, you have an opportunity to create a new life for yourself, and you're still young. That's a win.

My reco is not to stuff your feelings and not to get hung up on the contradictions. And to celebrate the wins. smile

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 26263   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8689256

Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 5:14 PM on Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Our youngest of two sons had a couple false starts. He went off to college, graduated and moved back home a while. Then he moved in with his girlfriend a few years and moved back, etc.

We loved the ‘extra’ time we got and were a bit spoiled. Always tough when they are such a huge part of your life for so long.

Over a year since he moved out and then we moved away — to an area we’re looking to retire at some point.

This is still hitting us hard.

But we call him and our oldest son often.

We set plans for next time we see them, we always have something on the calendar. Like Thanksgiving for all of us at my oldest son’s house.

Then a vacation gathering set next spring.

And in between, I realize it’s cool to raise intelligent, kind and funny humans — and that we look forward to watching them succeed.

Married 34+ years, together 40+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived
Restoration takes time.
"Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself." ― Epictetus

posts: 4223   ·   registered: Aug. 4th, 2016   ·   location: PNW. The adventure continues.
id 8689260

tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 8:45 PM on Sunday, September 19th, 2021

My baby flew the nest 5 years ago bit would initially still be home for holidays and summer. As she advanced through school she came home less and less.

In May she did what she was supposed to. Graduated in 4 years with a degree!!! And moved 6 hours away from home. Like 4 wasn't far enough when she was in school. She landed a job in her field and has spent the summer working her tail off. I could not be more proud.

She is happy and healthy and in a very good relationship. She has always had a strong independent streak so I'm fairly certain she will never return to her home town.

When we went and moved her from her collegiate apartment up to IA and in with her boyfriend I was very sad on the way home. And I would be lying if I said I didn't miss her. But I know we did good and she is happy.

Now if I could just get her older brother launched. rolleyes

H and I keep super busy with our interests and activities. We are ready for the boy to be out but he isn't. Its nice to have him and I allow him to come and go as he likes. He is going to start paying rent to us soon, not because we need the $$$ but to get him some motivation and to create a healthy savings account so he when he does launch he will have some for a place to live.

Him: FWS
Kids: 21 &23
Married for 28 years now, was 16 at the time.
D-Day Sept 26 2008
R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 19030   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8689275

DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 8:14 PM on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

The hardest part for us was the "letting them make their own mistakes" thing. Missing them sucks, yes, but there are ways to keep in touch, and you can always go visit. It gets easier faster than you think it will. But the mistakes thing... as a parent, it is absolutely painful to watch your kids make poor decisions, and knowing that all you can really do is offer your advice and hope for the best. At some point, our kid's hearts will get broken. They will make a bad investment in something. They will get taken advantage of. They will trust someone they never should have trusted. They will take unnecessary risks. They will act impulsively. All of these things and more will happen, and they are no longer at an age where you can ground them or send them to their room. That's the really hard part.

The other part, for some anyway, is simply figuring out who you are and what to do with your life with the kids away. Somehow, the lack of dirty laundry on the floor, the lack of dirty plates piling up, the lack of TV shows we can't stand, the lack of giant grocery bills, and the lack of endless neediness, kinda makes some of the sadness just a little more tolerable. :)

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1176   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017   ·   location: Marblehead, MA
id 8689769

 jrc1963 (original poster member #26531) posted at 12:23 AM on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

Thank you everyone!

He's been in his new digs since Sunday. He's doing pretty good right now... Fortunately, due to our yearly trips back to the area (it's my hometown area)... He knows his way around.

His Great-Uncle, my father's brother, is being a bit douchy about some things, the house DS is staying in belongs to his Great-Grandmother, my father's mother and she's moved out to live with Great Uncle due to age (96). We were up there for 3 weeks in July and I had bought a bunch of grocery staples to leave there for the kid to have when he got back there in September. Great Uncle came in after we left and either took it all or threw it away mad He also took out all the cable boxes and WIFI router and turned off the service ... so when DS walked into the house on Sunday he had nothing for TV or Internet. mad mad mad

But the kid... he made it work. He found the Xfinity store nearest to him and went first thing Monday and started his own account and got the equipment and set up everything and was watching TV and Interneting away by Monday Evening.

He's got himself a local bank account.

Now he just needs a job!!!

There are "We're Hiring" signs every where, but nobody's in any hurry to call him back... rolleyes

I'm not missing him quite as much as I thought I would... at least not yet. The house is a little bit calmer 'cause the tension between Young Adult Man and OLD Man is gone. And I'm not playing mediator ... like I used to. So that's helped.

Plus... I'm making plans to move to that area myself in the future... Hopefully NEAR future. Not just because DS is there, but it's been my goal for years now to move back there.

So... that's just a little update.

Me: BSO - 53Him: FWSO - 76 DS - 20 D-Day - 12-11-09, R - he finally came homeYour life is an Occasion. Rise to it. - Mr. Magorium, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"

posts: 26365   ·   registered: Dec. 14th, 2009   ·   location: Florida
id 8689806

little turtle ( member #15584) posted at 2:37 PM on Friday, September 24th, 2021

I hope that isn't a sign of things to come with his Great-Uncle. rolleyes Yay for your son who handled it all with no problem!

Glad you're handling the move well!! I'm in the same state. I don't know how far since I don't know the hometown. If I can be of any assistance, feel free to PM.

Failure is success if we learn from it.

posts: 5460   ·   registered: Aug. 1st, 2007   ·   location: michigan
id 8690023

BrokenheartedUK ( member #43520) posted at 5:05 PM on Friday, September 24th, 2021

It's always bittersweet when they go. I have been building/emotionally preparing/strategizing for quite some time for my "empty nest moment"--my kids and I are intensely close having weathered an international relocation and divorce together. My youngest went off to college in September of 2020 but... the oldest one moved home a few months before following his college graduation. He interned in my city and lived with me and eventually landed his dream job... 16 hours away after 15 months of living back at home. So, a year after I thought I'd be empty nesting, it's just happened.

It also coincided with my attaining a graduate degree and passing my boards to get licensed in my field. And... a job!! So I'm pretty much busy with getting on with my own life. It's been strange to have the house to myself (finally!!) but actually really nice. When they leave you're not a hostage to their emotional ups and downs. It's kind of a relief. Like all things, you adjust and fill in the blanks. And there is satisfaction in knowing that you did your job--you gave him the tools to spread his wings--and that's a huge accomplishment.

In the end, we raise them to leave us--it's built in obsolescence, which is sad. No matter how great the job is, it isn't built to last this motherhood gig. Feel the feels, and let them go. And great job Momma!! And for what it's worth, the can and do boomerang a few times before they're really gone gone. My middle one is now planning on moving home after her college graduation next spring... Sheesh.

Me: BS
He cheated and then lied. Apparently cheaters lie. Huh. 13 months of false R. Divorced! 8/16 3 teenage kids
"The barn's burnt down
I can see the moon"
-Mizuta Masahide

posts: 3341   ·   registered: May. 24th, 2014
id 8690052

 jrc1963 (original poster member #26531) posted at 5:28 PM on Saturday, September 25th, 2021

Little Turtle - I sent you a PM with more info.

BrokenHeartedUK - I know what you mean about not be hostage to their emotional ups/downs. I've actually found myself feeling a little more peaceful now that I don't have to mediate between the two hot heads in the house! DS and FWSO are not related by blood, but somehow they are EXACTLY alike... and not having to "keep the peace" anymore between them is kinda a relief.

DS and I talk and text multiple times a day. Right now, he's still looking for a job, so he's kinda aimless, lonely and bored. I'm sure when he gets a job, or two, he will be less available ... but I think that's going to be ok.

The bonus is... FWSO and I are making solid plans and putting ducks in a row to make the move to that area ... hopefully within a year... and even if DS moves on to continue pursuing his dreams, I'll be OK with being there without him... because being back in Michigan area has been a goal of mine for probably the last 7 or 8 years now.

Thanks for the advice and support everyone!

Me: BSO - 53Him: FWSO - 76 DS - 20 D-Day - 12-11-09, R - he finally came homeYour life is an Occasion. Rise to it. - Mr. Magorium, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"

posts: 26365   ·   registered: Dec. 14th, 2009   ·   location: Florida
id 8690199

 jrc1963 (original poster member #26531) posted at 4:56 PM on Saturday, October 9th, 2021

Hey Y'all...

DS got himself a JOB!!!! He's going to be working as a mechanic at a local Firestone Tire/Car Care place!!!

Just thought y'all might like an update!

Me: BSO - 53Him: FWSO - 76 DS - 20 D-Day - 12-11-09, R - he finally came homeYour life is an Occasion. Rise to it. - Mr. Magorium, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"

posts: 26365   ·   registered: Dec. 14th, 2009   ·   location: Florida
id 8692374

Jeaniegirl ( member #6370) posted at 2:18 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Mother of an only child here. The time sure rushed by, it seems and first thing I knew, it was college. But she chose a local university for her BA so I saw her frequently. For her MA she went to another area, about 600 miles away. She went to work as a teacher first, then utilized her MA degree in Administration to get a Vice Principal's job. Then a principal's job came along. All the while she was working on her Phd in Education.

Then she moved 1800 miles away to the east coast for her dream job. My goodness. I went with her the first trip there (after her in person interview) and she had rented a little cottage on the water. We arrived late at night and there was no furniture. laugh So the next three days we had fun buying furniture and fixing up her little home. She loved her home and so did I. One of the hardest things I had ever done was driving away and leaving her after two weeks of furniture and car buying - and knowing it would be a while before I'd see her. I cried from Cape Cod to Cleveland Ohio. smile But it worked out and I managed to make three trips a year and she'd come home during breaks.

I was busy because my Mom was very ill and living with me and I was also trying to work. After three years on the east coast, she decided she missed family and decided to come home and help me with her grandmother. After losing my Mom, Covid hit -- so my daughter is with me still. She will be moving to her own place if/when this pandemic settles down. I also plan to sell my home as it's too big just for me. So we will have some changes coming up. She's decided she won't be leaving the area soon. We have lost so many loved ones and friends, she says life is too precious to miss days with those she loves. But she has an adventuresome spirit and I don't see her staying here in middle America for too many years. Also, she's in a relationship now and her guy is here. So .... guess we will see.

"Because I deserve better"

posts: 2886   ·   registered: Feb. 1st, 2005
id 8692438
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