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Empty Nester

I was with Charlie for ten years after college. We were relaxed and easy with each other but never discussed commitment. One morning, after a restless, sleepless night, I decided to bring it up. I tentatively broached the subject by asking Charlie if he ever wanted kids. He shrugged and said he liked things the way they had been. I wasn’t really surprised by his response, just hurt. Soon after, we were no longer together. I longed for children and now I was afraid that strangers sitting too close to me at Starbucks could hear my very loud biological clock ticking. Through luck and the internet, I found my Prince Charming. He was a professor, stable, loved books the way I did and most importantly, wanted to have children, too. So after a quick courtship and engagement we got married and immediately began focusing on pregnancy. It wasn’t an easy road. Two miscarriages and a lot of heartache later, we finally succeeded and had beautiful twin girls. I left my job without any regrets and focused entirely on raising my miracle-daughters. I read childrearing books with a highlighter in my hand, attended numerous Parenting classes, cooked nutritious and kid-friendly meals and became a class room parent. I jumped head first into the role of Mommy and loved every minute of it.

Then the Baby Girls grew up and went to college. I collapsed with loneliness. I had devoted the prior eighteen years of my life to raising my children. I didn’t know how to be anything else. Dinner table conversations that had been lively and filled with fun school-day anecdotes were now quiet and somber. I missed my purpose of being available for driving to and from school, being ready with after school snacks, taking time to prepare just the right meal. Some mornings I would wake up feeling anxious and go back to bed for a few hours. I couldn’t find my stride.

One evening my husband asked me what was going on and I couldn’t even get the words out. I felt lost and lonely without my daughters. I realized something would have to change and I started talking to one of my neighbors. I discovered an organization not far from my house for homeless teens that needed a safe haven to go after school. I wandered in to their building and found a place to volunteer. I brought baked goods, helped with homework and was able to feel a renewed sense of purpose in my life.

My advice: Sometimes, it’s just a matter of giving back to others to discover how good you have it in your own life.

Has this happened to you? What advice would you give to someone in this situation?

Please share your response in the comments section below.

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