Surviving the Empty Nest Transition

Updated: May 22, 2019

I haven't posted anything for awhile, mostly because I have been all over the place mentally and emotionally. I didn't want to come across as a miserable sot of a person whom no one wants to be around, because that is what I've been. If you know me, have been following me on social media, or our paths have crossed, you probably know that life likes to hit me over and over again. It likes to keep things interesting for me and remind me when I'm not on the right path. Heaven forbid I get in a rut.

My Kids Left me and I took it Hard.

After my husband decided I was no long welcome in his life, i became a full time single mom, it took years before my daughter would talk to her father and my son had very little to do with him once he settled in with me. I wasn't a traditional mom, I was a single mom. If I'd been a traditional mom they would be more dependent on me for their care and not in such a hurry to go take care of themselves.

In our home, we were a team, working together to build a life. Their chores were different based on what they wanted to do, which wasn't emptying the dishwasher - I'm not sure they even know how this one works. They did the grocery shopping, their own laundry, and cooked their own dinners. I cleaned up after them, was their bank and their taxi service. It worked for us and gave them skills their friends didn't have.

Losing my kids was my biggest fear, and what I mean by losing them is, they wouldn't live with me 24/7. This fear started the day my ex forced me out of the house and grew after he told my son I didn't want him living with me. My son did move back in with me and it wasn't easy, but I was there for him throughout every bad decision he mad and every mistake I made.

I wrapped my whole existence in being their mom. I could have moved, but I stayed to ensure they were not displaced more than they already were. I tried to make friends, date, and find work outside the house. I failed miserably at all three and gripped onto my children even tighter. I do not recommend any mother do this. It isn't healthy for the children or for you. No matter how hard it is to find people to connect with - figure it out or figure out how to enjoy life alone.

We were a close little family unit and I watched them grow, become young adults, and did my best to be there whenever they needed me - no matter the time of day. I gave them all my resources, efforts, and focus. I made sure they got what they wanted and had as good a life as I could afford to give them, which was financially poorer than the one I had at their age.

One minute we were a family, the next, I lost it all

My son turned 18 this year and it is natural for him to want to move in with his girlfriend and friends. That was hard enough and I was getting used to him not being a daily fixture in my life when my 15 year old daughter got angry with me and decided to live with her brother because their dad would give her the child support to move out.

I did the best I could with what I had, and it wasn't much. I was a single parent with no support system and it took three years to get my ex to pay full child support. The kids and I were finally able to afford a bigger place, so I didn't have to sleep in the living room anymore. We were there just over a year when my ex gave the kids the money, so they could move out on their own, which left me with no way to cover the bills. I'd lost all my income overnight, both my full time job, child support, and kids.

The kids didn't care, the ex didn't care, the landlord didn't care.

Before you tell me he legally can't pay the kids, I already paid a lawyer to fight to get the child support and I chose not to fight again. Legal battles take more effort and emotional strength than I have. It would also mean upsetting my kids and I can't do that. The divorce battle is over and I don't want to open that door again. They moved out because they needed to get away from me and thankfully he pays their rent.

I did not take it well. I cried for days and needed some pharmaceutical help, so I didn't go crazy. My mother called me daily to make sure I was still breathing, it was a scary time.

I spent days, weeks, months, alone at home - miserable

One day, I was a single mom, the next, I was nothing. I didn't even have a job, as I'd just been laid off for the second time in three years. I was lost. I had no reason to get up in the morning. I had no reason to do anything and my environment reflected this. A hazmat suit was needed if you were to visit my home.

The main thing that saved me from jumping into the hole of despair was acceptance into a self employment program, which enabled me to start a marketing management company. I've gripped this lifeline everyday to stay sane because it gives me a reason to wake up in the morning.

Some days, I even shower and go out into the world.

I'm getting stronger and finding my own way. My start up business has become my newest child and it is slowly beginning to thrive. It takes all my attention, resources, and love. Just as my children used to. The only thing I know is, it's my life line and I will build it into something wonderful, as wonderful as my two brilliant, independent, resourceful children.

My Story is Common.

Many people have lost everything they were scared to lose. Lots of people had to pick up the pieces on their own. The reason I share my story, is to inspire hope in others, because there is light, even when it's too dark to see. The pain we all carry deep inside us is part of being human. We all make mistakes, what matters is how we handle life and what we learn from it. I chose not to let it beat me.

Both my daughter and my son are doing well. They take good care of each other and have each other's backs. We've talked. They know I still love them and will always be there for them, whenever they need me.

The empty nest is quiet and lonely, but at times the silence is golden.

2019 UPDATE: A year ago, I thought my life was over. Now, I have come to terms with my kids not moving home. I miss them being a daily fixture in my life, the noise, the laughter, and their friends. I miss being apart of my daughter's daily life and we are not as close as we once were. My son needed a place to set up an office and my downtown apartment makes a perfect location. I'm enjoying our daily we work times and getting to know him better.

My business is still kicking. Some months are hard and I don't know where I'm going to get rent, but it works out somehow.

I've moved downtown Vancouver, a place I always wanted to live, but couldn't afford to rent a place big enough for my small family. The kids helped me find the place and move into it. They want to see me happy and moving towards my own successful life. I look forward to them crashing at their new downtown crash pad, even if it is only a 400 square foot room.

My life is changing for the better every day and that dark time is fading in my memory, as I look out onto the future's horizon.

I survived the transition - and so will you.

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Shannon Peel is a Professional Marketing Manager and Storyteller. She has authored three novels in three different genres. Her company, MarketAPeel, helps Independent Professionals and Small Businesses define their personal brands and tell their story through different channels.

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