A bird looks down at a large birdhouse full of many rooms. All of them are empty.

Empty Nest

Twenty-four years ago, a beautiful six-year-old girl helped me get through my diagnosis.

She was my inspiration to keep going at a time in my life when I really thought that I was not going to make it. All I wanted was to see her graduate from elementary school. I was all my daughter had, and she was all I had, so I poured all my love into her. We were so close, and she loved her mommy so much.

As the years went by, I was two years into my diagnosis, and the HIV medication (protease inhibitors) I was taking always made me extremely sick, which caused me to seek alcohol as a coping mechanism.

In my mind, I thought that the drinking was helping with the side effects of the medication. Even though it was hard, I continued to press on through life. One thing I knew was that I could not see anyone else raising my precious daughter.

Becoming a blended family

A year later, I married a man who was HIV negative, and he had custody of his 7 years old son. We were now a blended family. The first years were good until he started to use drugs and then became abusive, but I was still a busy mom on the PTA, cooking, cleaning, making sure homework was done, and keeping my children structured.

One day I finally knew it was time to leave my husband, and now the youngest was eleven and going into middle school soon. My other two children were now grown and out of the house. Which was hard since I worry about them.

I could never see a life without them, but I knew one day they would all be gone from home. I just did not realize how fast the years would go by.

Living alone

Today I have been living alone for almost two years, and I am struggling with them not being here. Although it is nice to have peace and quiet, I would have never thought that it would be so hard living by myself. I am someone who enjoys caring for people, but I have learned that sometimes that can burden my happiness along the way.

It would be great to have them live with me, but I know in my heart that it is best for them not to. Do any of you struggle with your children being gone now that they are grown? I remember saying to the best I cannot wait until you all are grown and out of the house (laughing).

Well, I got what I wanted, didn’t I? Now I must adjust to it, which has been a challenging task on some days. I am happy that I raised them with some structure, and my children are living their lives.

I have let go of the mother in me, telling them what they should do and praying they will take all that I have taught them and be the best they can be.

What parenting struggles do you face?

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