It’s time to face reality…you were a horrible spouse and now, a horrible mother. The latter is the real reason your baby is leaving the nest to have a life of their own without you in it or ever involved ever again. You will die alone with no one to mourn you or even know you existed. You deserve to be miserable…forever.
Is any of this true? Not a bit but unfortunately there are many single mothers who think this as their child leaves to start a life of their own. All their fears and feelings of guilt are undeserved and one day, they will see how wrong they really were. For starters, however a woman becomes a single mom (divorcee, pregnant by an ex-boyfriend, accident, etc) is not really important. My mother used to always say it takes two to tango, which is the case with getting pregnant.
Even if one pays for those fancy in-vitro fertilization treatments with donor sperm, the guy who provided the sperm made a choice not to be a part of that child’s life…but you did. Yup, you made the courageous decision either with or without the support of others, to stick it out and protect that spark of life until they were able to go out on their own. Believe it or not, it is one of the noblest thing a woman or for that matter, a human being can make. As such, can you really be a terrible person? No ways.
Empty Nest Syndrome for any parent or parents is a reminder we’re not going to live forever. It is a version of the fear of dying and if one looks at the animal world, salmons live in the ocean and once mature, start that long swim upstream where they spawn then die. If one thinks about it, about the time your offspring are ready to go out on their own, parents are usually looking at getting ready for retirement. Usually not long after retirement, old age then death.
For the single Mom, this is especially traumatic because usually there is no significant other to help alleviate or attempt to rationalize the fear. Well the secret for single moms or even couples to handle this situation is live a day at a time. Find things to laugh about all the time or things to be thankful for (regular prayers to thank God, are helpful) or volunteer to help others or take classes. In other words, make each hour mean something.
Believe me, as non-intuitive as this sounds it will help to ensure your kids will be back. Either as young adults or with their own family and grandchildren. My mother used to say if they knew having grandchildren was so easy, they would’ve had them first. Imagine, all the fun of having kids without the headaches like having to stay up all night because they’re sick or baking brownies at 2 AM because they “forgot” to tell you they promised to bring some to class the next day or shuttling between soccer practice, bowling and someone’s birthday party.
A couple I know have succeeded marvelously with dealing with the empty nest syndrome. They travel to other countries 2 or 3 times a year, both work part-time and volunteer at least one day a week with their church to help feed children from low income households. Their three children and a few adopted ones like myself, constantly keep in touch to see what new thing they’ve learned or new adventures they’ve had. Talking with them is a pleasure and not as frequent as I would like but I respect their choice of lifestyle.
My own parents by comparison, remain at home as recluses and are technophobes to boot. They refuse to learn how to retrieve voicemail from their cell phone, use email on their computer (a friend has to come over to log on to help them print out emails), are unable to even figure out how to program their own answering machine. Any time I call, my mother will ramble on for literally hours about every detail of her last shopping trip to the supermarket and this is a long-distance phone call with me paying.
Do single moms deserve to be suffer because of the Empty Nest Syndrome? I don’t think so and would encourage single moms to get out and meet folks. Their job is done of raising children and now is the time to enjoy themselves. I’m confident just like my globe-trotting friends, if they take my advice, their kids wil be the ones looking to spend time with their mom.