I love Downton Abbey. Actually, it’s Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, I love. She and Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond pretty much sum up my personality. Maybe my life, too. Well, not the one that lives in the castle. The qualities of these women (characters) I see in myself are probably why I thought having an empty nest would not be tough. I’m practical and emotionally level-headed. My nest is empty, so what?


Before I move on, I would like to say that I hate the phrase empty nest. I get the whole birdies flying away thing, but a nest? I don’t know about you, but my nest felt more like a barn most of the time. And I swear it swelled each time someone moved out. It is anything but empty.

          I would hear women complaining about how sad they were that their nest was empty, and I, like every other mother with small children, would think, “Yeah, poor lady. Must be rough to sit on the couch and eat truffles.” At least that is what I planned on doing when my nest was empty. But, as my oldest reached high school, I began to feel these weird pangs in my heart. They were pretty strong. In fact, they were so strong that one day I lost all self-control and posted something sappy and dramatic on Facebook about them. Thankfully, the evidence of that disappeared along with my account.

As my boys started graduating and moving on to college and then getting married, I had to face the fact that I had been, as my daughter-in-law calls it, a judgey-Magoo. I was now a whining empty-nester. I was sad and let myself succumb to wallowing. I hear it’s normal and even healthy to mourn your children growing up, but I didn’t like that new me. Besides, Ecclesiastes says there is a time to wallow and a time to refrain from it. Ok, it doesn’t, but that would have been a good one, and it’s my new motto. I still let myself be gloomy when necessary, but I try to focus on all the happy more than the sad.

Now, in all honesty, the empty-nesting thing hasn’t been that horrible or dramatic. I’ve been fortunate. My boys all live close, and having grandchildren has certainly made it easier. However, the months leading up to it were very eye-opening. I had a big problem on top of the new emotional me. Not only was I going to miss my boys like crazy, but what in the world was I going to do with all my time when that last one left home? When people asked me that question, I was like a deer in headlights. I was ill-prepared. Not only had I been a SAHM, but I had also been a homeschool mom. On top of that, I had been a homeschool mom whose boys had been in traveling sports on evenings and weekends. I had completely ignored myself for the last 25 years. I began to feel very insecure about what my capabilities were. Maybe all I was good at was being a mom, and now that was over.

I was in a pickle of my own making

          I’m not kidding. I didn’t have one hobby. I had to google what the word meant. Don’t get me wrong, I loved homeschooling and watching my boys play sports. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Some things would change, though.  A little more time would have been invested in me.  I hate saying it like that because it sounds so selfish, but I think I could have and should have done some things I enjoyed without compromising my priorities at the time.

          Covid hit the spring of my youngest son’s senior year of high school. Although it was a huge disappointment for him, it was a blessing in disguise for me.  Our third son was in college and had to move home. Those last few months before the official empty nest, sitting with my boys on the couch watching Netflix, were the best fifteen pounds I ever gained. As great as they were, between wallowing and worrying, I knew it was time to construct a plan for the next phase of life.

Before our afternoon Netflix binging, while they were doing their schoolwork, I found myself scrolling through Pinterest A LOT. At that time there were thousands of lists with hundreds of ideas for what to do during quarantine. Luckily, those lists had the potential to be pretty helpful for someone like me who was looking for a life. Unluckily, they weren’t.

Candle Making


Salsa Dancing

Pole Dancing

Training Dogs



Bird Watching



Sacred Harp Singing (?)


DIY Anything

          Seriously? I was in big trouble. The only two I found mildly interesting were jewelry-making and truffle-making. Then I saw blogging on a list. I’ve always had a negative opinion of bloggers, but for some reason, it grabbed my attention. Then my memory jogged a little to a book I had started a few years back. (Actually, I had started two books, but if I ever got the one published, I would have to move to a deserted island for the rest of my life). So, there it was. I liked writing.  The other two hobbies would require some planning and money, but I already had the supplies for writing, so I decided to give it a whirl.  And BAM! Two and a half years later I have started. I learned two important lessons during this transition.

 1. Homeschooling or not, you can (and should) dedicate your life to your kiddos without losing your own. I think most moms are/were smarter than I was about this, and I’m not giving a ‘find yourself’ lesson here (I hate that phrase too). I just could have done things differently to make the transition easier. Even if I had just found one hobby to explore just one or two nights a week, I would have been better off.

      2. I will not wallow in my empty nest. I will stay busy and positive. It’s easy for me to say that because I am not naturally a wallower. However, I have done my share of it and gained nothing from it except weight. Violet Crawley said it best:

“You’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do.”