October 6, 2015

E is for Empty Nest

Welcome to the Write On, Mamas! We are a writing group based in the San Francisco North Bay area. We will have 25 Mamas and one Papa writing on a different letter of the alphabet during the A-Z Blog Challenge. We would love to hear your comments.


Photography by Mary Allison Tierney

Long before my daughters graduated from high school, I was already mourning the empty nest. Writing was the only thing I looked forward to as I imagined home life without them. I had dabbled in words before, but aside from churning out a clever holiday letter every year, my recent oeuvre was pretty non-existent. Writing was my consolation prize for the planned obsolescence of motherhood.

It was also good therapy, as writing usually is. I poured my anxiety and grief onto the page. “Soon we’ll be leaving the emerald hills and spring-soft skies of the Bay Area to visit faraway New England colleges, icy sirens that entice my baby away from home,” I began. This turned into my first piece for Perspectives, a public radio commentary. One commenter felt the need to opine that my daughter was lucky to escape my neurotic clutches.

Neurotic or not, these were fruitful times for copy (writer’s tip for the day: neurosis=copy). The bulk of my personal essays are about the empty nest—anxiously awaiting it, grieving it, then enjoying it. My husband, seeing how prolific (and occasionally remunerated) I had become, joked that I was feathering the empty nest! I knew I was through the mourning process when I began to tire of writing about it, and moved on to other topics. I, too, was launched—a writing fledgling.

Lorrie Goldin;s essay From Conception to the Empty Nest will appear in Mamas Write.


  1. Sue LeBreton says:

    Lorrie: This is great. My oldest starts high school next week and I find myself already nostalgic at family outings knowing their time is limited. And yes, neurosis = copy and my parenting journey provides me with great fodder.

    • Thanks, Sue. With your oldest starting high school, there will be plenty of new fodder. And, I must say, the Empty Nest gets a lot easier–quite enjoyable, actually!

  2. Claire Hennessy says:

    All I can say is, that your loss is our gain. I love reading your writing and can only hope that I am similarly inspired as mine leave – the only difference is I am starting to shove!!

    • Thanks, Claire–you are so kind! It does seem that moms seem to break into shovers and lamenters. Of course, now that mine are launched, my big fear is having them move back in some day!

  3. Laurel Hilton says:

    I am a ways from the empty nest, but I often do think of it. Esp in my worst mommy moments, I try so hard to remember they are only little once and then they fly away. Thank you Lorrie, for your beautiful prose on a subject that crosses every mother’s heart. so glad this led you to a life in writing!

  4. I’m visiting on the 6th day of the #Challenge. This is ONE of the most attractive blogs I’ve visited. Some with side bars appear so cluttered and often the focus of the blog is obscured with other ‘stuff.’ I would award you with a blue ribbon if I had one to give for clarity and content. I have belonged to 2 writing groups and both have meant so much to my writing life. I congratulate you on sharing the richness of your collective experience. I am writing this month about gardening and related subjects this month. If you have time or interest, please come and visit. I’ll wait by the garden gate.

    • Sue LeBreton says:

      Thanks for your compliments on the site, although I have no personal credit. Who in our group deserves the kudos. Loved your comment on the richness of a collective experience. Even as a long distance member I have attained some of that. Thanks for commenting.

    • Thanks, Stepheny. Your blog is also a feast for the eyes!

  5. I love how you’ve found a way to deal with your kiddos being gone and make something productive out of it at the same time! My parents will be empty-nesters within the next three-ish years, and although I know it’ll be a tough transition in some ways I know they’re looking forward to it.

    Stopping by from the A to Z :)

    • Sue LeBreton says:

      Thanks for stopping by. Your comment about your parents struck me- I think we need to look forward to all transitions even the hard ones because life is one transition after another.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jaimie. It’s interesting to get a perspective from the children of empty-nesters. One of the best things we parents can do for our kids is have full lives after the active years of parenting are behind us. I’m glad writing has helped me get there.

  6. How cool that you took something stressful and wrote about it and turned it into something positive! eventually anyway. That’s got to be tough. I have kids but we are still a few years away from the empty nest. I don’t look forward to kids being gone.

    • Sue LeBreton says:

      Agreed it’s not something most of us look forward to is it? I recall when mu babies were little and my mom-in-law suggested I’d be happy when the mirrors were clean and all the baby paraphernalia was gone. No way. I try to savour each stage and I keep eyeing the toys in the playroom knowing they will be put away before too long.

    • Thanks, Cheryl. I always find it helpful to write about stressful things. Writing might replace psychotherapy–and I say this as a psychotherapist! On the other hand, writing creates its own torturous climate that has certainly given me lots to talk about with my therapist, so I guess it’s a break-even proposition. And as for the years to come for you–the good thing about adolescence is that it does help introduce the notion to mothers that perhaps there’s an upside to the kids’ leaving home!

  7. Beth Touchette says:

    As usual, I enjoyed your piece. Your words has been helping me prepare for my future with my own kids for years.

    • Sue LeBreton says:

      Beth your comment tells me I need to get access to these writings to try & prepare as well.

    • Thanks, Beth–glad to know I’ve helped you prepare. I remember when I first met you your kids were in that delicious stage, which made me nostalgic and a bit jealous. I remember your perspective being slightly different for your LitCrawl pieces–I guess it’s nature’s way of helping us tolerate their departures!

  8. Teri Stevens says:


    This is a lovely piece. I must say when my grade school kids are getting the best of me, I often think that someday they will be gone and I will be missing them fiercely. Nice to know that feeling will soon end and perhaps I’ll get more writing in then.


  1. […] V-Day for the A to Z Blog Challenge, which I did not officially participate in except for carrying the letter E for a tiny stretch of the blogging relay on behalf of my writing group, the Write On Mamas. […]

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