Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day can be a Lonely Day

On this Mother’s Day, I know I am far from the only mother who is missing her child. In my case, the wish that we could be together is just a tinge, because I know my only daughter is well and happy if a couple thousand miles from the Texas Hill Country where I am visiting my dad. I just talked to her as she relaxed in her back yard in Portland, Oregon. Even better, she will be down for a visit in a week! The moms I think of the most today are those with children far away, whose absences are the source of sadness, worry, and those even permanent loss. In particular I think of all the mother of men and women around the world, serving our country. On this day the sacrifices of mothers, children, and all family members who are apart because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are all the more poignant. I also think of mothers of children lost too soon, and of others whose children are estranged or having trouble finding their ways in this difficult world. This seems like an especially good day to recommend a place for any mothers with children no longer safely under watchful eyes at home. is a site I found after my daughter moved away when I did a search for “empty nest” and “mother,” over six years ago. I must admit that, while she had been in college for the previous five years, I had not really felt her absence too strongly because I always knew I would be seeing her soon, and could be there for her in a short time if we needed each other. But the move to Oregon was a challenge. Two time zones away! It seemed so distant and unfamiliar, and she had gone there on as song and a prayer, literally. An aspiring singer/songwriter, she decided after college graduation to go there for the music scene and promise of a fun place to live. Six years later she is happily ensconced, with the proverbial day job, two CD’s, frequent gigs, and two cross country tours behind her. I am enjoying the fact that when I visit her, we are in one of the most beautiful places one could imagine, less than two hours from the coast in one direction and from the Columbia River Gorge in the other.

But making the adjustment was not easy. We drove out together with a U-Haul full of treasures and guitars, gaping out the window at places unfamiliar and exciting. When it came time for me to fly home, I had to face the fact that she was largely alone and very much on her own. The friends she was hooking up with were little more than acquaintances. Would they worry about her like I would if she did not come home at night? Unlikely. In fact, assuredly not. So I went home and worried all the time. This was the me who Googled for empty nest and mother on a lonely night and found a very supportive community of folks who understood exactly what I was feeling, the mothers of Tentatively I ventured forth with an introduction. Pretty soon I was a daily visitor and the group was an important part of my life. As time went by, I became more used to life far away from Emily and established a new routine that did not revolve around her. EmptyNestMoms helped me in this process

Then, about a year later, Emily announced her plans for a coast to coast tour, and my worries rose again. Just how safe was it for three girls in an old Ford Econoline, even if their fourth passenger was a protective Labrador retriever, to drive from Portland, Oregon to New York City and back? Once again I turned to EmptyNestMoms. The daily entries I made there helped ease my uncertainty about the journey of my adventurous daughter and friends. Things reached a critical point, though when (rather predictably), they broke down in Knoxville, TN. Emily called me with the dire news and I turned to the website for advice about auto repair shops and a decent place to stay. Incredibly, one member lived across the freeway from the shop where the kids’ van had been towed. We exchanged phone numbers and I called her to learn that she could look across and see them all sitting on the curb and looking forlorn. By now there were three girls, one guy, and, of course, the dog. This saintly woman offered, no insisted, on taking in the kids! For a long four days she housed and fed them, putting them up in her own flown-away children’s rooms. There were simply no words nor gifts to convey the depths of my gratitude, but somehow I think she knew. Moms are like that.

I have lost track of this wonderful friend, the trip is a distant memory to my daring daughter, and I have continued to improve in the department of letting my fledgling go. But I still like to remember the incredible kindness of this wonderful mom who did for my kid what she would want someone else to do for hers. People who say that the Internet isolates people and breaks down communication are wrong. That may happen for some who are inclined to withdraw anyway, but for me and many others, the Internet has led to wonderful and rewarding new friends.

Finally, a bit about this website:

I am no longer a regular there, but just paid a visit. I noticed the same familiar graphics and heading, but many new and inviting features. These include a regular magazine, opportunities for face to face gatherings, travel advice, publications by members, and many other offerings. There are separate forums for mother whose children are off to college, for those who are newlyweds, and for military moms. There are even forums for dads. If you are missing your almost grown/grown child, or know someone who is going through this unique transition, take a look at this special caring Internet community.

And I cannot conclude without plugging my talented daughter. Her two albums have had many great reviews, she recently completed a second coast to coast tour, on which I joined her for one portion of the trip, and she is busy with future plans. She has a song that has been in the Top Ten on Neil Young’s Living With War Today website for over seven months. Go to

Look for her song, “Has Country Gone to Hell,” by Emily Herring. There are over 1700 anti-war songs on this site, and competition for the top spots is keen. She can also be found at:

And by the way, if you click on her song from the Neil Young site, it counts as a vote for her song. That is what keeps her in the top ten!

In conclusion I would like to thank and remember again all military mothers. My daughter and I join the rest of our immediate family in deploring this misguided war. But we all honor and respect the brave men and women who serve, and their families who pray for safe returns.

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