Illustration by Leen

In The Thick of Motherhood… and Empty Nesting

Another mom was being interviewed on a Podcast.

She was describing her life, managing time, and said something to the effect of being “in the thick of motherhood.”

And it stung. For some reason.

It stopped me, and my heart ached for my son, who was at his dad’s.

As I thought about it, I realized something:

There’s a different type of mother.

Or maybe, an unacknowledged type of mother. A mother who shares custody of her child or children.

This is a woman who has lost her dream.

Most likely, divorced or separated from the man she had dreamed would be her partner for life. Her equal. Her helpmate. Her confidante.

And now she stands alone. Maybe she’s dating, or even remarried.

But this woman is still doing one of the hardest jobs of her life: She is being a mother, full-on, no doubt. When her child is home with her, she is the best mom. She makes sure everything is set just right for her child — doctor appointments, clothes for school, playdates planned, swimming lessons paid for.

At the same time as that, she has to be full-on professional woman who also may be managing a dating life or planning things to keep her busy while her child is away with their other parent.

This woman is in the thick of motherhood.

But she is also in the thick of empty-nesting.

This kind of mother’s heart aches when a child is away.

This mother doesn’t get to completely be in the thick of motherhood.

But unlike the feeling of relief or freedom some actual ‘empty-nesters’ may feel when their children move away, the mother who can’t be with her child is simply aching and longing for that dream:

The family unit, the shared laughter and shared moments. Holidays that are shared, not separated out like a deck of cards. The whole ‘You get this, I get that’ mentality.

And there’s the heartache of watching the confusion of her child or children. The sadness of parting. Their disappointment of having two homes.

Sure, there may be some relief for her at times.

Less to manage, some days.

But it’s lonely.

Toys sit there, untouched.

If any holidays are included in this time away it’s extra painful.

The scar of the loss throbs a little more.

A reminder that sometimes life is far from fair and is never perfect.