Women, life, happiness
  • “My kids are all grown up and I don’t know who I am anymore.”

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    April 1st, 2010Keryl PesceFamily and Relationships

    “I can feel myself close to slipping into depression. I got so much joy from being a mom, but my kids just don’t need me as much anymore. I know I’ve got to let go, but it’s so hard. I feel like I’m letting go of a part of my life. It’s as if my life as I knew it is over, and that’s really scary for me. I know can’t hold them back, nor do I want to. I can’t stop them from growing up and moving on with their lives, but I don’t know how I’ll ever be happy again. I feel so lost. ”

    Can you feel for her? I sure do. Right now, she sees no alternative to letting go of her life as she knew it.   This is one of many situations in life where we women end up the rope in a classic tug of war and pulling on either end, in completely opposite directions, are logic and emotion. Our left brain sees pretty clearly what we need to do. “Let go. You’ve done your part. You’ve raised them to be intelligent, capable and independent. They’re not supposed to need you as much now that they’re older. Get over it. Every other mother does. ”

    On the other end of the rope is our right brain, our emotions. “But I’m their mother. My entire purpose in life was them. My heart is slowly being torn apart. I want to grab on to them and not let go. I want them to need me. ” 

    So what is this mom supposed to do? First of all, if you are in this position, know that what you are feeling is normal. So stop thinking you’re some sort of freak of nature. Don’t beat yourself up anymore, thinking there’s something wrong with you. There isn’t. You are a normal and loving woman. As a matter of fact, moms that struggle with this the most are the ones who devote the greatest amount of their time and energy to their children. Virtually their entire existence is for the sake of their kids, which shows great dedication.

    While that is honorable, like most things in life, anything in excess has negative consequences.

    In my first marriage, my entire focus was my ex. My world literally revolved around him. So what happened when I discovered his affair and left? I was a fish out of water. I didn’t have a freaking clue what to do with myself. It’s what happens to us when our sense of purpose changes and it can happen abruptly, as in my case, or it can evolve over time, such as in the case of this woman. The very nature of our lives is based on having a sense of meaning. It’s what gives us life. So it’s no wonder it’s a challenge for us when that changes.

    Think about the days you hop out of bed in the morning with the most energy and excitement, feeling full of life. It’s because you have a clear sense of purpose that day. Lack of purpose, on the other hand, sucks the life right out of us.

    Have you not heard of people who let themselves die because they felt they had nothing to live for? The answer for this woman, is to find a new meaning to her life. Will her children always need her? Absolutely. Just in a different  capacity. Even if you are reading this and aren’t a mom, I want you to pay attention, because this applies to all of us, moms or not.

    How so? I find women who feel depressed and don’t know why. Nothing is wrong. Nothing has happened. They simply feel lost, and it’s for the same reason. So for this woman to feel alive and happy again, she simply needs to look at other areas in her life, other roles in which she can make a contribution. Although she is experiencing an end to a phase of her life, she is also entering into a new phase, a rebirth of sorts. She’s being given an opportunity to search outside of her, to the world around her and rediscover new ways to make a  difference. All she needs to do is look at the other roles she plays in life – friend, wife, sister, aunt, employee, volunteer, professional, whatever. Then ask herself this: “What would I enjoy doing that at the same time would contribute to someone else or some other cause?” Then just start taking baby steps in that direction. Gradually increase her time and energy in that area. It may feel a little awkward or scary at first, but not for long.

    It is the antidote to her unhappiness. I guarantee it. Bottom line, there’s nothing wrong with having your role as a mom be a priority. It’s natural for us. But what’s also important is to keep alive our other roles, even if they are somewhat in the background. Then, as life evolves, as it always does, and one area doesn’t need us as much, we simply shift our time and energies to another area. It’s a much easier and more natural transition than all or nothing. It’s another case for why it’s important for you to care about what you want in life and not sacrifice yourself entirely for your children. Read the Guilty Mommy post if you haven’t already.

    As women we have so much to give. We live our best lives when we give to others. It’s what we do best. So keep doing it and as you do, make a conscious decision to do so in multiple areas of your life. It will pay off now and in the future for you and those around you. 

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7 responses to ““My kids are all grown up and I don’t know who I am anymore.”” RSS icon

  • Dear “uhhuh” – You may be very surprised to read this, but I agree with you. What we (men and women) share in common is far greater than that which separates us. We are all magnificent and incredible creatures with capacities we only barely understand. And no, you will not catch me man-bashing, not for a second. If you read my upcoming book, you will see that. I consider all blame, including pointing the finger at men, a complete waste of time. I am all about personal responsibility for every aspect of our lives. Although I share an accurate account of my ex-huband’s affair and how painful the experience was for me, I publicly share that I do not blame him. Believe me, I love and enjoy men tremendously, including my husband who I speak so highly of so often, it likely borders on nauseating.

    The truth is, virtually all of what I post and what I write in my book would be useful to men and women alike. But I have chosen to market and speak to women, as I understand them best. I appreciate your supportive words and take no offense to your strong opinions whatsoever. I’m guessing you are a devoted dad who has had his share of challenges in watching his children grow up. I can feel the passion in your words, and reading between the lines, I can tell you love your child or children tremendously.

    I hope this gives you better insight into me and my message and should you find yourself able to read past my “girlfriends” and women speak, that you continue to follow this blog and maybe gain even one piece of insight that you find helpful.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

  • You cheapen your wisdom by acting like this stuff somehow only applies to women.
    I don’t know why you seem to completely ignore that men are human beings too.
    There are a lot of men who go through this kind of thing too, and I hope you are not of the “all men are pigs” persuasion, because then all your knowledge falls flat in the face of your hateful attitude.
    This growing attitude of “women vs. men” is killing our humanity, and I think you need to realize we are all spirit first, THEN HUMAN BEINGS, and only then are we “male and female”.
    This means at a higher level, we are all one.
    Get a larger perspective, because you seem to have promise.

  • medical assistant

    What a great resource!

  • No. But now i will. Thanks for that.

  • One of the great tragedies I have seen in parent/child relationships is the parent who fails to successfully make the transition into this next stage that your friend is making; moving from authoritative parent to confidant/guide.

    The wonderful thing about the above is that she knows she needs to make the transition – so good on her. I’ve seen moms absolutely ruin any chance of ever being in a close adult relationship with her child because she refused to make the transition.

    This also goes in line with your post on “Guilty Mommy” and I have to agree, the more that mom gives up control, the closer the future relationship with her daughter will be…

    Great insight HB!!! :-)

  • Well said Keryl! This sounds like our conversation recenlty! lia sophia here I come! hehehe!

  • This mom needs to continue feeling like a mom. Take in children for day care or volunteer to babysit for others. You will have to comfort of knowing you are still important to little ones and you will have the love of them in return. If this is not an option, become a volunteer at day care centers or hospitals where children and adults need a caring person with whom they can talk and feel comfortable. Any of the above will remove the depression you are feeling. Take if from one who knows.


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