By Holly Richardson

holly richardson author pic

Can I let you in on a little secret? Having your children leave home is hard! Sometimes much harder than you think it “should” be or that “they” told you it would be.

When my oldest left home to serve a mission for our church, I was unprepared for the intense grief I felt. After all, wasn’t I supposed to feel grateful and blessed that he was headed out to serve the Lord? I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. I sobbed like my heart would break. For days. Weeks. A couple of months, even. I mourned the loss of our family as I’d come to know it. Never again would we all be together for every meal. Never again would I know the everyday details of all my kids’ lives. I mourned that the youngest ones would not get to know and love their oldest brother like I did.

empty nest

I went to church and felt like every mother there had lied to me about how wonderful it was to send your kids on missions. Until I started sharing how HARD it was for me and they would nod and smile and say something like “It’s the best-kept secret in the church” and “It gets better.”

Criminy. No one talks about it?? Why not?! From the distance of years, I now think I understand a little better why it’s “the best-kept secret.” It’s not that other people don’t experience it – they do – but it’s also that it really does get better. Moms adjust. Dad’s adjust. Kids adjust and time marches on, towards a new normal. Every time another child leaves the nest, no matter the reason, there is a period of disequilibrium and re-adjustment.

For me, the first was the hardest. For some of my friends, subsequent separations become progressively harder. But even then, it gets easier. So, strong mama, remember you raised them for this moment. Let them fly. We will be here for you when you cry.


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