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When my son graduated high school, I was so ready for him to move out for college. I needed a break from parenting.

Melissa Drake   

When my son graduated high school, I was so ready for him to move out for college. I needed a break from parenting.
  • I was excited for my son to move out because I needed a break from parenting.
  • I joined a Facebook group for empty nest moms and shared my vulnerable truth.

My son and I were always extremely close. Because I was a single mom, we spent most of our time together. As he was growing up, I dreaded the weeks when he'd travel with family or enjoy various summer camps. I was always emotionally challenged when he'd spend time away from me for more than a weekend.

Of course, it came as a surprise to me and others when I was so excited for him to leave after high school graduation. But it's the truth.

After being a single mom for 16 years, I was spent and needed a break from parenting. But lots of people looked at me as if I was a bad mom for feeling this way.

I looked forward to my life as an empty nester

I was grateful to be a single mom with plenty of support, including family members and friends who offered extra hands, an ex-husband who consistently paid child support, and employment with some flexibility. Yet, I found it hard to keep up with the demands of the sandwich generation, caring for my parents, who eventually passed, and my son, who was growing, learning, and testing the limits faster than I could keep up with.

By the time his senior year ended, I was at my wit's end.

I recall talking with a friend about my son's planned departure to Florida to attend trade school. I was upset that everything wasn't working out as expected when she said, "Are you crying because he may not be able to go?"

I was ashamed to admit it, but the answer was yes.

Most of the other moms I knew were devastated at the thought of their kids leaving, and here I was, crying because my son couldn't get out of town fast enough for me.

I felt like a horrible mother, and I turned to an empty nest mom's Facebook group for support. After a few days in the group, I felt even worse because my experience was so different than the other mothers who would give anything to keep their kids at home.

I took a chance and shared my vulnerable truth

I made a post in the Facebook group and shared what was on my mind. It went something like this: "Life has been hard, and while I love my son very much, I'm excited for him to leave. I need a break. Am I the only one?"

Honestly, most of the other mothers couldn't relate. Some even questioned how I could feel that way. But a woman named Laurie sent me a private message. It turns out we had more in common than we expected. We were both single moms with no living parents — only sons about to graduate from high school and a great desire to find peace and comfort in our lives.

Ah, what a joy it was to know I wasn't alone. It turns out there were many moms in the same situation as me; I just had to tell the truth to find them.

I eventually found the support I needed

Laurie and I eventually connected with other mothers who felt similarly. Connecting with like-minded people was the medicine I needed. Our group of very connected moms talked daily, laughed constantly, and supported one another. We overcame depression, managed divorces and single parenthood, navigated relationships, faced down addictions, and simply became stronger and more beautiful every day.

It was very scary to speak out in opposition to a well-established group, and yet sharing my uncomfortable truth brought me a wealth of long-term supportive friendships. After being severely depressed and losing my corporate job, starting my own business, and moving across the country, these ladies have been there to hold my hand and my heart. Nearly a decade later, those friendships are still intact.

Even better, my relationship with my son flourished while he was away because we were much more intentional with our communication and had time to focus on our personal needs and goals. It was a true turning point because we learned to connect as adults with similar needs, separate aims, and abundant love.

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