Saturday, March 19, 2011

Empty Nest Syndrome

As I write this blog, I feel that I am in a good place in my life.  I feel an awakening.  I think that sometimes we get so caught up in work, family, financial matters, etc. that we lose ourselves.  Our true authentic selves.  This is part of the journey of life.  We must go through this and sacrifice a part of ourselves for the good of the whole cause.  I think it is good for the soul and regardless, is one of the  most rewarding experiences we can have.  I am speaking of raising our children.

What happens though when it all starts to come to an end?  The chapter is coming to a close and you are now left with the uncertainty of the future.  You are forced to stop and look at yourself in the mirror.  All of a sudden life as you have known it all these years changes.  There is a feeling of being lost and a kind of sadness that can be overwhelming at times.

What do we do now? What will this next chapter bring us?  We almost feel as if our worth is connected to our children.  If my child no longer needs me than what is my job now?  What is my meaning?  This is especially difficult I think for single parents.  There is a different bond  there when it is just you and your child against the world.

Just recently I took a trip to Target to get a few household items.  As I walked around the store with my cart,  I became aware of the sights and sounds around me.  There were children laughing, babies crying, and husbands and wives having discussions. In a single moment I felt so absolutely alone that it almost sent me into a panic attack.

I never had the whole "family" thing.  I was in a relationship but it was on and off and mainly just my son and I all the time.  He went everywhere with me.  I first felt the feeling of loss when my son no longer wanted toys for Christmas.  As I walked by toy aisles, I realized my little boy was growing up.  From there it became a slow letting go.  A balance of how much to let him fly and how much to hold on.  There is no piece of literature or person that can give you these answers.  You have to look inside, you, have to know your child and determine his/her maturity level.  Challenging does not even begin to describe it.  Along comes driving, girlfriends, rebellion, etc.  Slowly you realize you are not your child's whole life anymore.  The world and all it has to offer is awaiting them and you must let go.

A good friend of mine posted a poem by Gibran that perfectly describes our job as parents and I will post that at the end of this blog post.  There is one particular saying in the poem that he pointed out to me.  Which is "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth."  He reminded me that I am the bow and not the arrow.  It is up to my son as the arrow to now fly straight.  If for any reason he does not, I cannot base my own self-worth on this for I am just the bow.  I hope to have instilled in my son integrity, honor, respect, love and compassion.  I hope that when it comes down to taking Path A or Path B he chooses the right one.  If not, then at least learn and grow from his experiences.  I have so many hopes and dreams for him but for now..I must let him find his way and let him know that I love him unconditionally.

So now, as a single parent who lived and breathed for my son I am left to look deep within myself.  How do I go on when I am dealing with a profound emptiness inside of me that is almost paralyzing.  Well, it has taken me a lot of soul searching to find some answers.  It has taken me time alone in solitude.  I have had to allow myself to mourn in a way and find a way to embrace the future and myself.

This has led to an awakening.  I was going through photos of my son and getting all emotional when I came across a photograph of myself as a child.  I couldn't help but notice the sense of adventure and excitement in my eyes.  There was a light and an ear to ear smile.  I knew right then that I had to find her again.  I had to find myself.  What do I enjoy?  I enjoy people.  So I slowly started to go out with friends and realized how fun life can be again!  It has been great sharing stories and laughs.  I also have always enjoyed reading and writing.  I am back to reading again.  I try to take time out every night to shut off the television, make a nice warm cup of tea and read.  Self-help books are good but so are books that are trashy and light.  I like to alternate between the two.  I have started working out and taking care of my body more.  This has given me more energy to do all the things I want to accomplish.  I write again.  All this time alone in thought has opened up my mind again and so many things have inspired me.  Last of all, love.  I think my heart is opening up again to the possibility.  Regardless, I will be happy and fulfilled but I would like to have someone to grow old with me and share life.

I am blessed to have so many positive and loving people around me.  They have supported me raising my son and support me now as I enter this next phase of my life.  I thank each and every one of them for the unique gift each one has given me.  Who knows what this next chapter brings?  I now am finding it easier to be positive.   I will be turning 40 in May and plan on a trip with friends full of martini's and most likely if I know them..craziness.  Now when I look in the mirror I see a wrinkle or two, maybe a gray hair but in my eyes I see the girl in the photograph...bright with the excitement of what is to come....

Here is a link to the poem:


  1. Very nice blog. You'll be fine! Life is a bridge, so build no home on it.

    Peace, love, and happiness!!!!

    I know you, there is no way you would let a gray hair survive!


  2. Great piece, Lauren. I've already told you how much this impressed me. Your writer's instinct will always allow you to express yourself better than others and to be more in tune to your feelings. Please keep writing, love your stuff!