The Simple Difference in Three Generations of Motherhood

Three generations of women — my grandmother, my mother and me.  Connected by the thread of motherhood but with three very different experiences.

Four Generations
Four Generations

I write about life in the empty nest because it is what I know.  Not exactly what I planned for, but how things turned out.

I had an interesting text message from my mother a few weeks ago.  This is what she said:

Reading your blog made me wonder why I never felt like I had an empty nest.  The reason is when you left for college, Andy (my younger brother) started high school.  When Andy left for college, you came home.  Shortly after you married, daddy died and mother became a responsibility.  And then came grandchildren.

My mom never had to wonder what to do next.  She just did what was necessary in her circumstances. 

My grandmother was from a different era.  I don’t know that women of her generation thought much about an empty nest.  They were more likely to live close to extended family.

For many years, my grandparents and their four children, in-laws and grandchildren all lived in the same town.  We actually lived in the same neighborhood for nearly a decade.  We did a lot together — lunch every Sunday after church, every major holiday at my grandparents’ house and even vacations together, including our annual family reunion in Cairo, Georgia.  It was an idyllic childhood.

Maybe that is why I have trepidation about this empty nest experience of mine.  It is so different from what I knew growing up.  I wonder what my daughter’s experience will be if she has children.

A couple of years ago I was talking with some friends at a college reunion.  We compared experiences after college.  From Schnectedy, New York to Lakeland, Florida,  most of us returned to our hometowns after graduating from college.  Our adult children?  That’s a different story.  Most of them chose to live and work somewhere other than where they were raised. 

Maybe it’s a generational thing.  Who knows?

The empty nest is not my favorite but I’m coming to terms with it.  Technology helps — texting and FaceTime keep me connected to my two.  And I do enjoy the benefits like the ability to travel with my husband.  I think it’s all about perception.

Can you relate?  Is your experience different than that of your parents, your children?  How do you deal with it?


5 thoughts on “The Simple Difference in Three Generations of Motherhood

  1. Thank you for the post! Both of my children moved away after college or high school. I thought having a job would insulate me against the empty nest syndrome. It didn’t. When I came home and my children were gone, I was lonely. I got more involved with ministry and that filled some of the time. My elderly parents needed help and that filled another slot. But nothing takes the place of children (even adult children) living close. Our oldest son wanted us to move close to him and his family so they would have grandparents. So we picked up and moved. My soul is healed when we are closer to them.


    1. I love the line “But nothing takes the place of children (even adult children) living close.” It’s so true. I’m always in better spirits after a visit. I’m so glad you were able to move closer to your son. I’m one street over from my parents so we’ll probably be here a while.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we stayed in our home city until all of our elderly relatives passed. We are glad that we were there to help them! During that time, it was vacations and visits to the kids and grandkids.

        Liked by 1 person

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