Thursday, September 23, 2010

Empty Nester Angst

 Empty Nester Angst

I’m having an identity crisis.  Who am I, I cry in the night?  What is my future, what am I to do, where am I to go, who am I to serve?  These questions arise at odd times and leave me with an unsettling angst. 
For the first 28 years of my life I was a child, a student, a worker and eventually a wife.  I had my share of angst during those years as well, but generally had a path and a clear identity that was not yet defined by children.
Everything changed when we had our first son.  It changed a little more when we had our second and even further with our third.  I had found my life; I had found my calling.  Being a mom felt like the most natural thing in the world to me.  I never dreamt of corporate life or escaping housewifedom.  I loved raising my sons and found joy in the everydayness of our lives.  I somehow thought we would always be together.  That didn’t happen.
We traveled a lot with our kids – nothing exotic, but we did hit some national parks and did lots of bicycling and hiking – natural things.  The boys liked what we did and now as adults still like it and have become very independent; taking off on their own adventures.  One son has done a solo bicycle trip across the country.  They do couch surfing, stealth camping, etc.; the kinds of things I try not to think too much about lest I create another layer of angst for myself. 
Our guys love life, love to explore and love home, they just aren’t here very much and there’s the rub.  I miss them.  I liked all the activity that used to happen around here.  I liked their friends stopping by.  I liked ordering pizza for 20 kids at 10 p.m. on a Friday night.  I liked going to football games and cheering on their high school.  I liked talking to our boys about girlfriends, movies, politics and some of life’s bigger philosophical issues.  I liked hearing our oldest son play the trumpet and the younger two strum on their guitars.  I liked a lot of things about being a mom.
So, what am I to do?  I need to feel purposeful.  I need to feel needed and I need to make a difference.  I feel it with every cell in my body.  There are choices in every direction, but which is the right one? 
There is an emptiness that needs to be filled and I can’t expect my children to fill that need and I can’t expect my husband to fill it either.  He and I are a team and do many things together, but we also need our own life experiences.  So, there you have it.  My angst is real, but it doesn’t need to define me.  There is plenty of life left to live and plenty out there worth doing.  I need to rid myself of this infernal angst and open the door to new opportunities, new life experiences and a new attitude.  Life awaits; angst can wait. 


  1. Bravo! Such courageous honesty.

    Love in immense quantities!

  2. Thanks. I need to take my courageous writing and put it into action. That's the challenging part. Love, Rita