An empty nest or a full one?

Are you a parent? And have any of your children grown up? The age at which kids grow up these days is questionable and very different to when my generation were young (MY generation, does that make me sound old?!). I moved out of home at 18 as I had to go to the city to study. It is not unusual for young adults to stay at home well into their 20′s now. Do you think the old “empty nest” syndrome hits no matter when they move out? Or are parents throwing parties of celebration when their not so young children leave the nest? What is your experience?

I am very lucky. I have three beautiful sons. My oldest, Cameron, turned 20 on 28th October last year. My youngest, Maxwell, is only 5 and my middle son James, turns 15 in March this year. I was told I would never have healthy babies when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. That if I dared to try they would be deformed or stillborn…..I was a pretty mixed up, screwed up teenager for a long time after that. No wonder.

But as I am apt to do, I got on with life. I decided I was going to have babies. And they would be fine. And, they were. I did spend 6 weeks straight and numerous other times in hospital with my first and second pregnancies. They both had some issues of low blood glucose from my diabetes after birth requiring extra help. But they were both fine after a few days, except for serious reflux (the second baby requiring surgery to tie his stomach up at 20 months and a nightmare few years, but that is another post!).

Amazingly my last pregnancy, despite taking 9 years to come and being told I could not have any more children, and coming just after suffering a miscarriage, (totally devastating after a 9 year attempt) thanks to being armed with the new information through my diabetes work, an Insulin Pump, and bloody hard work, required no hospital admissions during the pregnancy and no special care for baby after delivery. A true miracle and I was 40 by that stage.

Did you have trouble with a pregnancy? If so you will know how hard it is to want something so and not be able to get it. To yearn. To grieve. And if you have done so and then had this miracle child, you will know how powerful and amazing and lasting this experience is too. They are all special, all amazing, each and every one of them.

How lucky to have a baby brother at 14!

I have had 20 years of busy boy life with many more to come. My oldest has not been home much the past 6 months or so. He has a girlfriend and she is lovely and as people in love are apt to do, he stays with her most of the time. He announced to us a couple of weeks ago, that he was making the big move out. Yep, going “defacto”. Funny, we had been discussing it ourselves and what we would do with the extra room when he eventually did move out, dreaming about room makeovers and second lounge areas and guest rooms. Part of me wanted that space, part of me wanted my little boy to stay home forever… My first born.

He is the one who showed me what true love really is, the love that overwhelmed me, (once I got over the 24 hours of vomiting from the c section drugs), as I held him in my arms the next morning, just the two of us in the quietness of the early hours. “This is really my baby” I thought as I stared into his eyes. And there it began. He is the one who I spent nearly 2 years as a single mum with after his dad and I broke up when he was just 9 months old (that’s another whole other post!). The one who held me to the ground when I suffered post natal depression. The one who shared a bedroom with me in our little flat and I would wake up in the morning to see him silently waiting, standing up in his cot, the sunshine on his golden curls, smiling at me, waiting for me, willing me to wake up. The one who made us laugh and laugh, who loved Ballroom Blitz so much when he was 5 my husband made him a special “tape for 5 year olds” where it was on every second track! The one who had to go back and forth between parents, leaving me as a very small child, a baby really, to go off to his dad. The one who took everything on the chin and stood tall.

This child is a real “oldest” child. He is such a gracious young man. So steady, so generous, so easy going. He is considerate and caring. He loves deeply and he has picked well in his partner. Why would he have done anything else.

So, today we moved him out. All of us with the trailer and my 5 year old trying to carry furniture and bits and pieces, making a cape out of the sheet holding the stuff down in the trailer. I drove behind in his car, while he got a lesson from trailer towing from my Hubby, all alone and spent most of the trip thinking, this is the first of my children leaving home. This is where I start to feel the start of empty nest. How am I meant to feel here? I remember the feeling when everyone used to be at home, all of my boys, the cats tucked up in their beds too, all safe inside the house, sleeping. I would lie there and feel happy and secure knowing all of my little ones were safe under my watch. And now I can not do that for this child. Now he must make his own way.

Yes my nest is anything but empty. And even when all of my children have moved on, it will still not be empty. Not really. There may be a piece missing from the picture, but he is not really missing, just shifted.

Cameron and James before we had Maxwell, on our wonderful New Zealand trip

My oldest son moved out today. I did have a tear. I did feel a little bit like someone had died as I started to clean out the “pit” as we affectionately call it, in readiness for another renovation (more on that soon!). But my nest is full. Definitely full. Full of memories and laughter and card games and walks in the park. Road trips and beach holidays and Christmas Days and cuddles. Full of tears and arguments and trying to pull teenagers out of bed. Homework and kindy and pictures and dreams.

My nest is full of love. Life. Living.

I have done well. That is how I feel. I have grown a young man. And a damn fine one. And in fact as my husband remarked at Christmas this year, our nest will in fact be growing larger, as we welcome partners and perhaps grandchildren into our lives over the years to come. I like that a lot.

Here is a poem I wrote when I was pregnant with Cameron after already being in hospital for 6 weeks straight. I did not know the sex of the baby. Waiting was very hard when it felt like I had waited my whole life for him to arrive. I wrote a lot of poetry that year. I even turned this one into a song.

My daily life family now, Cameron is still a big part of our lives but no longer at the centre

Waiting – Helen Edwards 21/10/1993


It seems like I’ve been waiting for you

since I have known about your existence

and long before.

I have imagined your face

your hands, your smile.

Since feeling you grow

and move within me,

I have become more impatient

to know you fully.

I am anticipating you –

your potential

to discover your world

and for the world to discover you.

I want to show you beauty

and to teach you about how wonderful

your life can be.

I am anxious to touch you,

hold you and give you all my love.

I am waiting to meet you

my beautiful child,

the most important thing

I have waited for in my life.

Have you had any children leave home? What was it like for you? I would love to hear



Helen Edwards 

Founder and Director Diabetes Counselling Online, person with type 1 diabetes for 35 years,mum of 3 and blogger at

Empty nest or getting fuller?


  1. Helen Wilde on January 22, 2014 at 10:29 am

    🙁 & 🙂 beautiful.

    • Helen-Edwards on January 22, 2014 at 10:39 am

      🙂 thank you xx