How A Single Mom's Bond with Her Golden Retriever Eases the Pain as an Empty Nester
As a single mom of 4 kids the thought of being an Empty Nester never entered my mind until the day my youngest left the house for college. For the past 19 years I almost felt as though I was in a twilight zone, that feeling when you are not sure what is fantasy and what is reality!
The days of having four kids in elementary school feeling dazed and confused most of time always wondering how I would juggle and organize all of my daily family demands. My calendar was overwhelming with every square filled up and additional sticky notes that always came into play because there was something that needed to be added to the already full month.
The doctor, orthodontist, tutor, gymnastics practice and competitions, sailing practice and regattas, soccer, flag football, football, horseback riding, piano lessons, guitar lessons, violin lessons, dance, school field trips, school projects, birthday parties, sleep overs.....I am sure you get the point the never ending job of a single mom juggling all the different hats she must wear 365 days of the year!
Then we hit the middle school and high school years and it starts all over but different. Now maybe they are driving themselves to some events but the worry of our children driving can keep us sleepless even more so than when we were the taxi driver for them. Now we have college applications, testing, athletic tournaments, prom, homecoming and learning to deal with the ever changing and challenging teenage hormones.
So now all 4 have left, some for college and the others with full time jobs. At this stage they are adjusting to being young adults and figuring out how to manage their own calendars. So I finally have some time to sit down, exhale and maybe even pat myself on the back for a job done to the best of my ability. But now what.........?
My days were so full of being a single mom maybe complaining of such a busy calendar or sleepless nights when my children were sick. Or stressed that the laundry was stacked over my head and the house needed to be cleaned and now it all stops. The house is always clean, the laundry is only my own and my calendar is wide open!
So now my life has literally gone to the dog. Yes I am that middle-aged woman taking selfies with my dog!!! Yes, my fur baby is now my peep, my bff and my shadow. I must admit coming home from work to a dog that covers you with sloppy kisses and longs to hear about your day ( well maybe not but I tell her anyway) sure feels good!
So maybe my dog can't replace my kids but they can definitely fill that undeniable void we have in our hearts when the last one leaves the nest. Always there to make you smile and comfort you on a lonely night.
At times my house can just feel disturbingly quiet. Our human need for an emotional and physical connection does not go away just because a child has moved on. There is definitely some grief to process, no matter what your level of happiness is, surrounding your empty nest..... Something is just missing!
Our dogs feel the loss as well when the children leave the nest. This is what has drawn me closer to my golden retriever as we both need some extra love and attention.
It is natural that we cling to our dogs more during this time. Before maybe I was just too busy to appreciate the wag of the tail first thing in the morning or the sloppy kisses when I walked in the door, but now I feel as though I get just as excited to see her as she does me. In essence this is how I have filled that blank space of motherhood. Some may call me a crazy dog mom and thats ok because my instinct "to Mom" doesn't just go away because the nest is empty and she fills that void in my heart.
I urge all single moms that have recently become empty nesters to embrace your new beginnings and if you don't already have a dog as a companion by your side, now may be the perfect time to consider all the joy, love and of course mom/dog selfie photos they can provide!