I have dreaded it for yearsmy nest becoming empty. From the first time I looked at each of my heavenly, newborn bundles, wrapped so perfectly in a hospital bassinet, I thought to myself I’m someone’s mom, now. My life and identity were changed forever.

What an awesome responsibility it was to me at the time. I knew at that moment my life would be filled with millions of these little moments, but also that ultimately, I would be left with two grown sons and an empty nest.

I figured these moments would pass slowly (and sometimes they did pass painfully slow) and that I would cherish every one of them. And I think I did. I just wasn’t prepared for the swiftness at which they passed.

Where did it all go? I didn’t think I would be sitting here in my quiet, empty house.

A house that used to be filled with all of the life two little boys could bring. I very much enjoyed the noise and chaos those two little boys brought into my life. And now, I’m sitting here wishing for those moments to come around just one more time.

Small, warm bodies climbing into my lap for cuddles, and chubby, little fingers grabbing hold of my hand.

The sweet smell of my toddler boy’s hair.

When my youngest and most accident-prone child cracked his head open with the claw part of the hammer.

When my oldest son climbed into my lap with lipstick all over his face, denying he had gotten into mama’s makeup.

Lying with each of my boys in their big boy beds, singing “You Are My Sunshine” until they fell asleep.

RELATED: Dear Son, When You No Longer Want Kisses from Mama

Both boys busily going about destroying everything in our home, Sharpie marked walls, and toys EVERYWHERE.

Squeaky voices asking for the thousandth time for yet another light saber or LEGO set as we try to avoid passing the toy aisle at Walmart.

Frustrated screaming and stomping coming from my teenage son playing his beloved video games in his bedroom.

Even the sullen sighs and eye rolls from my teenagers.

RELATED: The Secret to Parenting Teens? Listen and Repeat.

All of the times I exasperatedly thought is this ever going to end? as my full-on, all-boy sons brought me something icky or came to me covered head to toe with all the dirt they could find in our backyard. Will I ever get a quiet moment to myself?

How do you go from being a mama to being . . . what now? What is this? What am I now?

I guess it’s a different kind of mama. I’m a mama standing in the background now, watching her young men continue to grow and find their way in this world.

I miss it all and think about it often in my empty nest. I think about all of this as I count down the daysit’s two now until I pick my baby up from the airport. He’s coming home for Christmas from his first semester at college and a new life in another cityaway from his mama.

RELATED: Grown Kids Still Need a Mother’s Love

I am just so ridiculously blessed and proud of the men who stand before me. I look down the road to the milestones remainingbecoming husbands and fathersand I am so excited. But for now, I will sit here in my empty nest and try to get used to the deafening sound of quiet surrounded by the sweet memories of my boys growing into men.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Diana Gennaro

Diana Gennaro works in the field of nursing administration and is a mom of two grown sons ages 22 and 19.

Our College Visit Disaster: What You Should Learn from My Mistakes

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Mom and teen daughter selfie, color photo

With a song in my heart, I got in the car to drive my daughter to our first college visit.  We drove two hours to a school nestled in the mountains. It was a state school, not too big, not too small.  She knew plenty of alumni from her high school who attended there, and I was convinced it was going to be the perfect fit. We pulled up to the student center, and I jumped out of the car. I glanced around for her and realized she was still sitting in the car.  “Mom, I’m not getting out. I ...

Keep Reading

Everything I Know About Motherhood, I Learned from My Mom

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mother and daughter walking down snowy path, color photo

I lay in a hospital bed, and the doctor placed my brand-new son into my arms. As I held him close and stared in wonder at this tiny new life, the gravity of being totally responsible for another person settled in with an enormous weight. I could hear my mom’s voice in my mind, “Support the head, hold him close, let him feel you breathe.” Words from my youth when she taught me how to comfort my crying baby cousin. The first lesson I had in taking care of a baby. When I brought my son home from the hospital,...

Keep Reading

I’ll Send You off with a Million Prayers

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Teen walking down sidewalk with suitcase, color photo

I think one of the hardest things about launching your big kids is wondering what baggage they will take with them. Did I give them enough for what comes next? Enough guidance? Enough wisdom Enough confidence and encouragement? Or will they end up carrying the weight of all of my mistakes? My exhaustion? My insecurities? My misplaced fears? What will they hold on to and what will they toss aside as they make room for new experiences, new people, new dreams? RELATED: My Mama Heart Breaks a Little Every Time You Go What lessons will they remember? What moments will...

Keep Reading

Dear Future Daughter-in-Law, I Hope We’ll Be Close

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Wedding preparation buttoning up dress

Dear future daughter-in-law, My son loves you enough to want to spend the rest of his life with you. That’s a big deal. But I hope you and I can have a relationship too. While I think he’s pretty terrific, I want to know all about you and to have a relationship of our own. I know you are more than his significant other—our relationship may be because of him, but it can also be separate from him. Stop trying so hard. Just be yourself, the woman my son fell in love with. I don’t want you to try to...

Keep Reading

My Mom Made It Look So Easy

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Mom twirling little girl silhouette

I assumed I’d have turnkey kids. In my mind, I was a turnkey kid. I survived the toddler stage, complied at school, and learned how to earn favor from decision-makers that nodded in approval when I was developing on par.  From my perspective, parenting didn’t seem tricky. As easy as 1-2-3.  1. You have the kids. 2. You love the kids. 3. You send the kids to school where they learn life and social skills. This naivety followed me for an embarrassing number of years. I can do this, I thought. I can have kids, love them well, show them...

Keep Reading

Grandma’s Christmas Angels

In: Grown Children, Living
Little girl and grandma playing piano

My grandmother had quite a collection of Christmas angels. They were all different shapes and sizes. Some were plastic and some were very fragile—she must have had hundreds of them. Every Christmas, she would bring them out of storage from the attic and artistically design her living room to showcase each of them. The living room was always adorned with the Christmas spirit from floor to ceiling. Every Sunday in the month of December after church, she would always have an open door policy for people to walk through the display of angels. She would greet family and friends with hot...

Keep Reading

It’s Lonely As the Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother

In: Grown Children, Living, Motherhood
Stressed woman on beach

You hear a lot about being mothered during your mothering season . . .  Calling your mom throughout the day to share your ups and downs.  Calling to hear a soothing voice to get you through your child’s tantrums.   Calling to ask your mom to come with you to doctor’s appointments you’re nervous about. You hear about how you now understand what your mom went through raising you as you’re raising your littles. But you don’t hear about the pain a girl feels who longs for a bond with her own mother.  You hear about people inviting their moms...

Keep Reading

She Wore Caesars Woman and It Smelled Like Love

In: Grief, Grown Children
Woman with two children, color photo

They say the brain rewires itself to accommodate for losing one or more senses. A blind person develops great hearing, a deaf person great sight. Neither deaf nor blind, I have some loss of both. The result: a finely tuned sense of smell that intertwines with my memories and emotions. The aroma of cut grass transports me to summer. Cigarette smoke in the bathroom reminds me of my abusive grandfather. Loves Baby Soft powder scent embodies the year 1987. The pages of a book smell of escape. My grandmother’s perfume exudes love. Grandma Darleen shined like a beacon in an...

Keep Reading

When Mom Died, We Had Tea

In: Grief, Grown Children, Living
Table set as a tea party with framed picture of a woman, color photo

My mom was never, ever without a cup of Lipton’s tea. Like a dear friend, it held her hand, kept her warm, provided comfort. She boiled water in her navy-speckled kettle, then poured it into a cup and, completely ignoring the recommended four-minute steep instructions, immediately lifted it to her lips. It always mystified me how her mouth didn’t suffer third-degree burns. Mom’s penchant for thriftiness compelled her to use the same tea bag multiple times; only when it disintegrated and leaf particles floated to the surface did she accept defeat and reach for a fresh yellow packet. RELATED: Moments...

Keep Reading

My Mother Raised Me To Go On Without Her

In: Grief, Grown Children
Mother and grown daughter smiling in selfie

“The kids are spending the night at Grandma’s, and I’m eyeballs deep in Fritos while catching up on all my trash TV shows.” “I had to rush my son to urgent care, but thankfully my mom was able to stay with the three other kiddos while I took care of him.”  “I feel so lost when it comes to homeschooling; thankfully, my mom did it too, so she’s been an amazing guide to have.” To most people, these sentences might seem like wonderful, blessed bits of praise from a daughter about her mother, but to me, they’re like daggers straight...

Keep Reading