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What Kind of Motherhood is This?

For those of us who have been stay-at-home moms, Chris Dean’s words will ring true – those years between being needed and being an empty nester can be as difficult as the empty nest itself. Read more from Chris on her blog, pixie.c.d.

What Kind of Motherhood is This?

I’m standing in front of the mirror, staring at my reflection and trying to reconcile the face in my mind with the one in the glass. It’s almost funny how my brain still sees me as a young woman in her prime but, more and more lately, the mirror reflects back the face of my Mother.

Not for the first time, I wonder how she managed to survive my brother and me without ending up in a padded room.

Not for the first time, I wonder how she survived the transition from Stay at Home Mom to Empty Nester without locking herself in the bathroom and crying every day, the activity that’s brought me to my spot in front of the looking glass.

I don’t know how else to say this, but I’m lost. I’m a woman who currently resides in a state of limbo; no longer a child’s Mommy, not yet the owner of an empty nest. I am the woman with the birdies who haven’t completely flown and the Mom who’s no longer needed to help manage their lives.

Secretly I envy those who have already crossed this unnamed territory of midlife. I covet their light hearted stories of phone calls with Offspring and evenings spent alone with their spouse. I long for the days when the only voices (and laundry) I encounter are those belonging to Hubby and me.

Right now, the closest life description I could give would be House Mother for a Fraternity. Although, Maid for Animal House might be closer to the reality.

Either way, I’m no longer the one they seek out to kiss the boo-boos, celebrate life’s accomplishments, or dispense advice. I am simply the woman in the background who runs the kitchen and makes sure there’s a path through the chaos to the basket of clean clothes.

I know this is the normal order of things; what’s supposed to come next. Even as I secretly acknowledge the hurt that’s come from this feeling of being unneeded, there’s also the pride at seeing the amazing people they’re all becoming. That’s the feeling that sustains me!

But right now, hidden behind the closed bathroom door, there’s just this in-between lostness as I wait for my next phase to begin and wonder, “What’s next?”.

Chris Dean

Chris writes at pixie.c.d. (formerly Life Your Way!) where she shares acts of stupidity, life with adult Offspring, and the occasional useful bit of info on life with chronic illness. She lives in Indiana with her amazingly tolerant Hubby (who swears he doesn't mind putting up with her), their four adult-kids, and the petting zoo of cats, dogs, chickens, Muscovy ducks, and geese she’s systematically managed to turn their home and yard into. When not writing, you can find her avoiding laundry on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Instagram: pixiecd

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Chris Dean

Saturday 18th of April 2015

Thank you so much Jenny! My Offspring are all 18 months apart - four kids in under six years. I wonder if the process would've been easier if it'd been more gradual instead of all at once. All I can say is, thank goodness for other women who understand.

Jenny Kanevsky

Friday 17th of April 2015

This is great. Mine are 13 and 1o but I get that things will change. Even now, the teenager needs me in a different way. Good to see the perspective. I think it's important to acknowledge the change as a significant one for parents, especially the SAH parent, as a loss/mourning/life change. Not just poo poo it. It's about you too, not just the kids.

Lynne Favreau

Friday 17th of April 2015

You are in good company-I, along with many women I know are in the same place. I have one in college and one a junior in hs who plays sports, has a job, a driver's license, and a boyfriend, I never see her. My husband works very long hours home by 7 out by 9pm so I don't see him too much either. I'm fortunate in that my older sister lives with us but last night we were having dinner, just the two of us at the great big dining table and it was dead quiet-both of us feeling a little under the weather- and I had this horrible foreshadowing of dinners to come. It made me feel lonely and sad. At least I have the little man I nanny during the day.

Chris Dean

Friday 17th of April 2015

If I'm in a category with you Lynne, then I am in fine company! Maybe they should call us Prempty Nesters. Our adult version of growing pains. Part of me is seriously jealous of your Nanny gig, but then I remember diapers and child-proofing the house and suddenly, I'm OK with it.


Friday 17th of April 2015

Wow! I hadn't thought about this since our boys are 10 & 11 ... but I can see it heading that way. They talk about when they turn 18 and what they want to do ... and most of the time they don't talk about moving out (I'm waiting until they're a little deeper into their teens for that!) and this now has me thinking about it.

I wonder why this is not something that's talked about. It's all about being mommy and being an empty nester. Thanks for sharing something so thought provoking!

Chris Dean

Friday 17th of April 2015

Thank you so much Kerra! Maybe it's like the whole tween thing. Until recently, no one thought about the stage between childhood and teenager. One day you were a little kid and the next, you're a teenager - a young adult. Nothing ever transitions that easily. I guess this is the same kinda thing.


Thursday 16th of April 2015

I love this article, Chris. I too am experiencing that just-before-the-end part of parenting. It is an odd, good feeling; similar to when you are little with a loose tooth. I am eager to experience life without kids again but at the same time there is a feeling of sadness and loss. It is wonderful to know I am not the only mom experiencing these feelings.

Chris Dean

Friday 17th of April 2015

Thank you so much Tammi! It seems to go in waves - the excitement and the sadness. I don't know why, but I always assumed I'd move from Mommy back to Chris without a moment's hesitation. Funny how nothing ever goes quite as smoothly as you envision. *grin*

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