Mothers Who Love And Lose

Mothers Who Love And Lose

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The grief never ends for mothers who love and lose. Women bear children in pain and help them take their first steps, but a mother’s grief goes on and on. They are women who experience ENS–Empty Nest Syndrome.

The woman in this post chooses to remain anonymous as she shares her experience of ENS.

Natural Process For Mothers Who Love And Lose

I am one of the mothers who love and lose, like so many women everywhere. Children leave the nest and parents are left behind. ENS is rampant and a fact of life.

However, this is the natural progression of life. The parent’s heart goes with the children wherever they roam, but there is always a place at our table for the children.

Pregnant Again

At age 39, I fell pregnant for the fifth time. My oldest son was 16 years old and the youngest three years. Finding myself pregnant was a disaster as far as I was concerned. We already had four sons and the thought of the possibility of a fifth son did my head in. Besides, I was past the age of wanting to raise another baby. I had enough to do.

It was hard work on our farm. We daily tended ducks, geese, turkeys, hens and pigs. We also milked cows morning and night. On top of that, we grew all our vegetables. Then there was the season of bottling fruit and making jam and sauces to carry us through the cold winter months. We were self-sufficient, but I sank into bed at night totally worn out. My parents were also elderly and it fell to me to look after them.

It’s A Girl

Just before my fortieth birthday, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. My husband was ecstatic. I breathed a sigh of relief and prayed I would never again fall pregnant. No such thing as contraceptives in those days, and here was a girl who would care for us in our old age.

As I held my new born child, a premonition made me shiver, like a cold wind had blown into the room. The moment my daughter opened her eyes, she seemed to peer over the distant horizon. This premonition would prove true.

We lived in a area where farms were handed down to sons and daughters married local boys. No one dreamed their child would move away. Mothers who love and lose were in the minority.

Sons Stayed Close But Mothers Love And Lose

My four sons never moved away, but my daughter had shifty feet. I talked her out of becoming a nurse and she settled for office work. Deep down in her heart, she never got over the desire to be a nurse and do missionary work overseas.

I may have kept her close to me for a time, but before long, she married and was off on one of her many adventures. She moved with her husband to the North Island of New Zealand to work on a dairy farm. He dreamed of share-farming.

I was left to deal with my Empty Nest Syndrome, among the mothers who love and lose. Sure, my sons were at hand, but my only daughter was disappearing over the horizon. Loss, sadness, anger, grief, and fear rolled over me like endless waves from an ocean. 

Moving On

The dairy farm didn’t last long. My son-in-law, crouched in a mechanized cowshed putting cups on cows in the early dawn light, longed to be with the pilots flying high overhead.

We financed our son-in-law into getting his commercial pilot’s license. My husband helped him get his first flying job and for a time they moved back near us.

My greatest joy was cooking for family celebrations. We were once again complete with the added pleasure of interacting with grandchildren.

Wild West Coast

Both our son-in-law and daughter were still adventurous. Before long, they were off to the wild west coast of New Zealand to fly among deer shooters. That put a high mountain range between me and my daughter and three grandchildren. They flew in from time to time, but it was always a brief visit.

As the lucrative deer industry became government controlled and sanitized, the profit went out of venison. The couple returned to our side of the mountain range where the son-in-law had a job flying tourists onto the glaciers at the foot of Mt Cook.

I was delighted. Family celebrations once more had a full complement. My ENS totally dissipated.

Another Venture And Cruising

But, they kept reaching out to different ventures, chasing the elusive gold-mine. For a while, they were involved in raising meat-chickens.

Have you ever deloused a thousand laying hens in the middle of the night and shifted the flock to a new location? Not a task for the weak-hearted.

This venture involved massive, outdated incubators, 10,000 meat-chicken sheds and an abattoir. Life was never boring.

I was happy so long as I could see the family and help with the grandchildren. The kids bought a house, and my entire family was settled in my locale. I could cruise on into old age enjoying my children and grandchildren.

The chicken-venture came to an end. At least my daughter was close by and I helped her work her way through a nervous breakdown.

Life Changed In A Heartbeat

The unthinkable happened. The day came when my son-in-law’s plane crashed. He was a good pilot and had been for ten years.

Our entire world turned upside down in a heartbeat. My daughter was a widow with three children.

Devastating ENS

I thought things couldn’t get any worse. ENS was long behind me.

A few years into widowhood, my daughter announced the party-plan cosmetic company she worked for was moving to Australia. She was going with them.

Talk about a mother who loved and lost many times over. The valley of grief seemed to go on and on. My sons were all close to hand, but how could my only daughter do this to me? My husband and I were in our 70s. Surely, a daughter was obligated to care for us in our old age?

I had nursed both my parents, an elderly aunt and an elderly friend, all to their deaths. Didn’t I deserve to have the comfort of my only daughter? I never in my wildest dreams thought a day like this would come.

A New Era Of Mothers Who Love And Lose

It was a new era of mothers who love and lose. Daughters no longer felt obligated to care for elderly parents. Retirement villages and well-run aged-care complexes abounded. Houses were smaller and few elderly parents moved in with their children. There just wasn’t the room.

It was a devastating day when I said goodbye to my daughter and her children. She promised to return in three years time, but that never happened.

My daughter returned from time to time to visit, and once a year I would visit her in Australia. One son and his wife built a home adjacent to us, but it wasn’t the same as having a daughter close by.

Every time I stood at an airport, my heart plummeted to the depths. I was sure I would never see my daughter again. She entered another marriage and went through deep valleys of grief I couldn’t share.

Mothers Who Love And Lose

Children grow up and leave the nest. We must accept that we are mothers who love and lose. We want our children to have better opportunities than we had and encourage them to be independent. They must have room to make their own mistakes, but no one said it would be easy.

Parenting is full of pitfalls from beginning to end. The nurturing motherhood and our relationship with our children is part of our identity. It’s who we are.

Mothers grieve in private. Women are forced to develop a new purpose in life. Love is proved by letting go and you rejoice in your child’s successes. We are mothers who love and lose and our daughters will love and lose also.

If our children never moved on, there would have been no pioneer women who changed the world.

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    Wendy is an Inspirational Freelance Writer specializing in offering encouragement to women in all walks of life.

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