Mother’s Day in an Empty Nest

Mother’s Day in an Empty Nest

Missing your grown kids? Don’t despair. This may be the most relaxing Mother’s Day ever!


By: Dr. Judith Kashtan

A patient with young children sent me an article about how unwelcome it is to be accosted by well-meaning older women who say, “Cherish these moments when your children are young.” The author then shared how hard it is to be a mother of young children — a dirty little secret that is often glossed over when it comes to stories about motherhood.

While being a mother is the best thing I’ve ever done, it is also the hardest — much harder than my medical training or work as a psychiatrist. It has stretched me the most, taught me the most and brought me to my knees both emotionally and physically more than any other experience I’ve ever had.

Here is an uncensored view of Mother’s Day before and after children. Both are wonderful in their own ways. But they're different. Maybe those folks who urge us to “cherish these times” will have a better understanding of why Mother’s Day is, in some ways, best cherished by those whose children have successfully left the nest.

Before
Our youngest child, who has spent the night sleeping on our bedroom floor, nudges me awake, eager to give me her present. I already know what it is, as she couldn’t wait to tell me two days earlier.

The older two children have to be cajoled (read: threatened) into making their way into our bedroom so we can open presents before it’s time for Sunday school.

They grumpily stagger in and throw themselves on the bed, jostling for the “best” spot for the ceremonial opening of the gifts.

They also plead their cases for which one I open first and whose present is best. I open beautiful homemade cards filled with fervent declarations of filial love.

Related: Parenting ... Oh, now I get it!

I must stay in bed until breakfast can be brought to me. I eat the cold toast, overcooked egg and coffee with four spoons of sugar. Then we trundle off to Sunday school. Afterward there may be a trip to a museum, or everyone might simply do their own thing.

We go out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants (i.e., not fast food). There is a major conflict about who sits next to which parent. Intense fighting ensues.

Next comes a spirited discussion about whether the kids are permitted to order soda rather than water. As usual, I nix that option due to the expense and poor nutritional value, while hubby silently mimes sympathy with the children.

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It’s Mother’s Day, so I win.

A rebellion against my victory is sparked, and grows, to the point where I leave the restaurant for my own “time out.” When I return, the children are chastened. The rest of dinner is relatively peaceful, albeit with much of the expensive meal (“I don’t really like this kind of food”) uneaten.

Related: A Fun Infographic About Mother's Day

After the kids are put to bed I get ready for work the next day. I go to sleep feeling surrounded by love and happy that I have a job to go to.

Now
I wake up in the comfort of my bed and am greeted with a kiss from my husband.

He makes me breakfast in the kitchen, and I open my presents with the recycling bag nearby.

After presents, we sit around the kitchen, lazily doing the crossword puzzle and reading the paper with classical music in the background.

We gaze out at the spring flowers, which look beautiful in the unseasonably warm spring. We leave for the gym, with a clean and organized house ready to greet us when we return.

Related: From classic to extravagant, these celebs have Mother's Day down to a science.

Over the course of the day, I have wonderful conversations with my mother, mother-in-law, two daughters and, finally, my son — either because he actually remembered what day it was, or was prompted by his father or sisters. I wish they could be with me today and look forward to the next time I will see them.

My husband and I go out for a nice dinner, come home and watch one of our favorite shows. I prepare for work the next day and go to sleep feeling loved and so lucky to be a mother.

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