Pieces of My Heart Reminiscents on Becoming an Empty-Nester

As I sit here alone in my pajamas looking for articles on empty-nesting trying not to cry, I wonder where the time went. Was I a good enough mother to send self-sufficient adults out into this world? Why didn’t I play with them more? Why didn’t I hold them longer? Why didn’t I listen more? Why didn’t I tell them I loved them more when they were here? Why didn’t …

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I actually feel jealous of women in the office who complain about having their children at home, rushing between events, never being home … I think, this is crazy. There was a time I longed not to have one event in the evening, and now I want to do it all over again.

I miss the hints of what they were doing throughout the day. Now I can go days not knowing what they are doing, where they are going and with whom they are going. Are they eating? Are they being safe and smart?

I remember the past in bits and pieces but not all at once and think, why can’t I remember every cute little saying? When they needed mom, when they asked why I had to go to work, why couldn’t I just stay home and enjoy the moments of my life that all-to-quickly passed me by?


“Zachy,” “Zainy Zachy,” Poky Little Puppy or he liked Poky Little Dinosaur. He came one month early when my water broke, but has been late ever since.

Always happy and laid back. Even if he walks into a room of total strangers, he will walk out of the room as friends with every last person.

I knew the University of Nebraska at Kearney would be the best place for him. The last time we attended his parent-teacher conference, Sam looked at me before entering the room and said, “He’s a great kid, I love his personality. He just needs to turn in his homework.” We walked into the room, and no more than sat down when the teacher said those exact words.

He is my type “Z” child. “At UNK, they will know you and love you just like we do,” I said to Zach. “So, while you may not have the best of grades, you will be just fine.”

After finding his passion, he finally graduated and was hired as the quality assurance engineer for the https://www.buckle.com/ in Kearney. I still get to see him when the home-cooked meal is to his liking.

He yearns to leave this small berg and wonder out in the world. I hope he never does.


“Mad Megan,” “There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead and when she was good, she was very, very good; but when she was bad, she was horrid.”

Megan hit two and she was mad. In looking back, she is super intelligent so I think her brain developed before the words did, and that made her mad. Eventually, she grew out of that.

No matter what she picked up, her talent shined through. She gave it 150 percent each time. She is my type “A” child.

Of all of her abilities, her music is truly a gift. Most moms threaten and yell at their kids to practice. I had to yell, “Megan it is midnight, please stop playing so we can sleep!”

Now, I miss the music. My house is so silent. She would sit at the piano, and music would flow through her fingers. She truly had a gift and she was willing to share it with others.

Since sixth grade, she knew she wanted to be a Music Therapist. Megan tied for first in her class girl and earned a 32 on her ACT so she selected Kansas University (KU).

While I often wonder if it was the right decision due to what it has cost us in time away and money, her joy tells me she is where she was meant to be, doing what she loves. She will be part of three published research projects and has already presented at the national conference.


“Happy Hannah,” “Hannah Banana,” Nanners,” she was the best surprise we ever had.

Always happy and smiling, her dimple emphasizes her smile even more. When she was young, she longed to be a cat farmer.

Competitive and hardworking are two of her prominent characteristics. I’m so proud of all of her accomplishments like going to state track in pole vault twice, having the courage to try new things and earning some amazing scholarships.

She selected to go to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) where she is majoring in Spanish and has earned an international trip to Costa Rica this summer. She is earning the money on her own and even set up a go fund my travel page. The link is https://www.fundmytravel.com/campaign/TtiVBnUL8X

Although I don’t see her every day, it will be hard to let her travel so far away.

You know the moment I bawled like a baby in the movie theater during Toy Story 3? When Andy’s mom walks into his empty room and sighs! She says it all in that one little sigh. She says time went by too quickly. I’m not ready for him to be gone. Is he ready for the great big world? Am I ready to let him go? Life will never be the same. And, it won’t. The bathroom will stay clean once picked up. And here’s the crazy thing; you long to see it dirty. Seeing that stuff is strewn everywhere with wet towels once again molding on the floor means you have a purpose; someone needs you. Maybe only as a maid; but you’re needed. You are something to someone. While you prepare for this moment all of their lives; you are NEVER full prepared for the moment when your heart packs up and moves out.

The Year of the Parent

We decided that the year after our kids left, would be the “Year of the Parent.” However, they have happy poems for kids moving out of their parents’ house like Dr. Seuss's “Oh the places you’ll go!” Do they have poems for parents left behind? It could go something like this.

Have you ever read the book, "I'll love you forever"? There is a repeated line in the book that says, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always; as long as you’re living my baby you’ll be.” Originally, it kind of creeped my husband out that the mom, in the book, would drive across town with a ladder on her roof to peek into her grown son’s window to check up on him. While I totally get that! My husband didn't get it until our pastor read it during church one day.

I NEVER could make it through the book without sobbing because the son would come back to his mother when she was old and frail and he rocked her back and forth and said, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as you’re living, your baby I’ll be.” When the pastor read that part, my husband looked at me with tears streaming down his face and said, “I didn’t know about that part.” So, finally, my husband gets it. As a parent, you wish you could always be with your kids, and you are.

The end ... but not.

Michelle Widger, Copyright 2018

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Michelle Widger


Photography and Artwork by Michelle Widger

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