An Empty Nester’s Next Stop

Thoughts on change…


Artwork by Melissa Morgan

I wouldn’t trade the moments of beauty I’ve had as a parent. The first time I laid eyes on my two children will always be the most perfect moments of my life. My daughters’ eyes as big as saucers absorbing the world around her and my son’s instinctive nursing confirmed for me the power of the maternal bond and the existence of a higher being.

These were connections that started in the heart but ended up becoming my core, my essential being and my purpose in life. Yes, I’ve done a million things besides parent but for nearly 20 years nothing came close, nothing was more important and nothing could stop the locomotive.

The locomotive that’s been slowing down and making fewer stops will be making its last stop this August. I know I will still be needed but I also know that I need a new course and a new track. I’ve been thinking lately, “Who am I?” I’m not sure if it’s an identity crisis or the inner workings of my mind trying to sort out a home without children. I’ve always had hobbies, freelance work and passions outside of motherhood so I’m surprised by this feeling. It’s not unlike the feeling I had when I stopped working full time to stay home with my children. I was plagued with disbelief that I was walking away from a career that was just ripening for a position I felt I was sorely unqualified for. I had never changed a diaper, barely ever held a baby or even babysat. I waited months before I cleaned out my office and I took a leave of absence. There was a mourning period, moments when I felt so lonely, inept and shocked at some of the mundane tasks of motherhood that I felt as though I had traveled back in time to an alternate universe. When I finally disposed of my outdated professional clothes it was another assault, another loss and another goodbye. I mourned all these stops in my life.

The difference now is that I see the erosion of time for what it is. I have a lot less time than I did as a young mom in my early 30s. I often consider I’m at midlife but I’m probably a little overdue, since 104 doesn’t sound so appealing. As parents when we exclaim our surprise at how old are children are getting, those years have ticked off for us as well. I recently read an article about the available time most of us have complemented by a visual of how many books you can actually read, how many more summers you have, etc. It was sobering. It is likely I’ll never read all the books I’ve been meaning to read, or travel to all the destinations I’ve dreamed of or write all of the stories that keep house in my head. The aging parents in our family are another reminder of my place in the universe. My train is moving to the next station where there are consolations – I’m wiser than my younger self, more self-assured and less likely to care about the minutia of it all. I know I’ll never do anything as important as raising children but I’m hearing a tiny little voice in my head saying, “don’t succumb to the goodbyes but look toward new beginnings for all of us.”

This beautiful piece of artwork is by artist, Melissa Morgan. You can view her work on her Facebook Page: Melissa Morgan’s Art Page and her website:


  1. lsgaitan23 says

    This is beautiful, Vilma. I have that same train pass and the station stops do keep ticking by, don’t they? But we still have a few to make and who knows what wonderful adventures lay just around the bend. I love the way you phrased that in the last line, “don’t succumb to the goodbyes but look toward new beginnings for all of us.”

  2. Julie Jo Severson says

    Yes, this exactly: ” I’ve done a million things besides parent but for nearly 20 years nothing came close, nothing was more important and nothing could stop the locomotive.” All of this is so beautiful and spot on. My kids are still teens and tweens, but I’m almost 50, and I’m feeling the train in a huge way. As you said, there are several stages of quiet mourning along the way. Hard to even put into words sometimes. But you did so in a gorgeous way.

    • Thank you so much Julie! I’m certainly a work-in-progress!! Some days I wish my house was full of plastic toys and Play-Doh and other days I’m content with the prospect of a new beginning!! Thanks for reading!

  3. Lovely post. Reminded me of all those “last stops” I’ve made too. But looking for new beginnings is a great way to face the future!

  4. I have grappled with this so much over the past several years… the passing of time — how fast, how fast! — leaves me speechless and dizzy. And I can never seem to make as much of every day as I know I should. Must. But then, there is no holding on to the hours anyway…

    (and yet, today made me happy to not be young again… I’m over the frat parties. 😉 But to be young with this wisdom… now that would be something…)

    Anyway, thrilled to be connected.

    • Thanks for reading Gae! I always enjoy visiting my kids in college…feels like there are so many ideas and opportunities swirling around! Then there are moments when I’m happy to be done with those days as well! So glad we met!

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