Empty Nest: When Your Last Child Leaves Home

Sunday: Empty Nest

As my children graduated high school and left for college or the military there was always a bit of sadness that went with them. However, since the youngest was still at home I was able to keep busy and shake away all thoughts related to him eventually leaving home for good.

I knew the day would come but thought that I would do okay since I “handled” the previous two leaving! Oh brother was I wrong. The rational me remembered how excited I was when I was graduating and planning to leave home. So I knew that this was his turn to do the same.

He had been accepted to a State university here in WA. That was the plan, he was going to be only 5 hours away. I had gone over and over it in my mind and knew that I could handle that! Or at least thought I could! Heck, we still had the entire summer to enjoy together.

A few weeks after graduating he announced that he had decided to forgo college for now and was moving to NYC. NEW YORK CITY, I heard in my head! It must have been this darn commercial!

Back to my story! Yes, New York City! He wanted to move in with his brother and wife while he waited to join the Navy. Oh brother I thought. I really didn’t think that was a good idea. Then came the dreaded words, “I’m leaving in two weeks”. 

Now reality hit me. I had so many plans of things that we were going to do during the summer before he went off to college. Those months were going to be needed for me to get used to this new life of mine! (I know, this isn’t about me!)

Everything now had jumped too quickly into a future that I really wasn’t ready for. He wasn’t going to be coming home on an occasional weekend or even holidays, we wouldn’t be able to get in the car and visit him. Worst of all he wasn’t going to college. I kept my opinions to myself and let him leave the nest.

Each time I walked by his room I cried. I had to close the door so not to see the empty room. The silence in the house was deafening. At the time I wasn’t sure if the loss I was feeling was about them not being home anymore or the loss of my perceived purpose in life. My purpose in life as a mother, had that been my only purpose?

Although I am still their mom and always will be of course, I felt such a void and loss. It felt like something had been ripped away from my body. I realized something had, it was my heart.  Depression started to creep in and show it’s ugly head. Thankfully I was able to overcome the darkness.

Before he left he gave me a kitten. We weren’t planning to have another pet but his kitten was the perfect distraction and loves to cuddle! We named him Elvis!

Elvis cuddling


I still have moments of guilt that push through my memories of them growing up. The times that I yelled and was impatient with them. The silly arguments that seem to repeat over and over. The times I struggled as a single mom and didn’t have the money to do everything I wanted to do for them. When I second guess every choice and decision I ever made. Why do we do that? I don’t know!

Then I look at the men that they have become. I am so proud, despite all of my mistakes they are awesome independent human beings! We now joke about all my “crazy” moments. Especially in the mornings when they were getting ready for school and missing the bus countless times!

Although I didn’t tell him, “I told you so”, after a time away he did return to WA and is back in college! Hurrah!

As soon as I changed my focus from the lack of purpose to creating purpose with every breath and beat of my heart, things began to change. My outlook changed. Sure I miss them terribly but I am so happy to see them creating their lives and on the journey to finding their purpose. The quiet isn’t deafening anymore, I rather enjoy it!

No one can take away the happy memories we created, those memories are the ones that I make sure are in the forefront of my thoughts!

Bruce Sallan had a great idea and wrote a book about his trip across country taking his son to college. He chronicles the trip with videos and photos. I wish I had thought of documenting the trips when we took our sons. You can find it on Amazon below!

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Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included in this post. All of the opinions are 100% my own.

photo by: Mike's Birds
Lisa Ladrido (66 Posts)

Lisa is an R.N. Mom Blogger and the author of Mom Blogger Buzz. She writes about Social Media, Technology, Product Reviews, Blogging Tips, Travel, Family and Health. She and her husband live in the Seattle area. They have 5 sons, 4 grandchildren and 3 furry four legged children!

3 comments for “Empty Nest: When Your Last Child Leaves Home

  1. Kelli @SweetLifeMommy
    July 4, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    Love this post, Lisa. The idea you shared for creating purpose rather than focusing on the lack of purpose is exactly what I needed to hear. I’m struggling with empty nest, though I still have one at home — if that’s possible.

    • July 4, 2013 at 7:50 AM

      It is hard to have them leave, but it really hit me when the last one left. I was so excited for each of them because I remembered how excited I was when I left home. But it is still very hard to deal with, even when you still have a young one home. Thankfully your little girl has a way to go before she leaves! Thank you again Kelli!

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