On Being An Empty Nester: Better Late Than Never

Yes, I came to it later than most, AND I’m loving it

Merre Larkin


Mug of milk and a planner on the counter
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

First of all, don’t tell my kids. It might hurt their feelings. However, I’ve been a single mother since they were 8, 5, and 3 years old. This empty nester has worked hard and waited a long time for this moment.

I have to laugh now, looking back at my reaction to my mother’s perspective on finally achieving an empty nest. My children were 15, 12, and 10 at the time. I played her a song by Trace Adkins, entitled “Then They Do.”

You don’t have to listen to the whole song to catch the drift. The song is about how quiet it is after your children leave the nest, and how much you miss them. (It’s a long song.)

My mother had raised five children with my father, rather successfully I might add. As we listened to this song together, back in 2003, my eyes began to fill with tears, unable to imagine a world without my children’s constant presence in my life. My mother sat like a stone as Trace crooned about how much you yearn for the old days with your kids when they finally leave home and “all their dreams come true.”

The song ended, and my mother and I sat in silence for a few moments. As I wiped my tears, I said to her, “Isn’t that song so sad?”

My mother said, “Sure, honey.” Then she continued, “But for a while, you run around the house going wahoo!”

I was horrified. How could she be so glib about it? Just thinking about my children not being with me anymore felt like a stab to the gut.

Eight years later, I moved to California in 2011, with my sons. (My daughter chose to stay behind in Pennsylvania; she had made her life in her college town as she worked towards completing her degree.) My 20-year-old son had finished community college with the plan to attend a four-year college in California. My other son would be attending an arts college in the Bay Area as a freshman.



Merre Larkin

Writer. Life coach. Educator. Marathoner. Survivor. Avid reader. Here to share, here to learn.