The Empty Crib Syndrome


I have really been in a funk lately. My mind has been a whirlwind of emotions & thoughts. Ever since my youngest, my baby, turned 4years old I have been giving myself a hard time. I feel this pressure, entirely from myself, but pressure no less, to work.  Not that I don’t work now, in fact I feel like this is the hardest I have ever worked in my life!  My husband and I are a bit old school. He works outside the home.  I do all the household chores, all things clothes and food related, and run the kiddos lives…school, homework, religious ed, sports, Scouts, clubs, B-day parties, etc. & lately I have been at the beckon call of our newest four-legged family member, Wyatt our Labrador puppy. So, you see, my life is extremely full. So what the heck is my problem? I think it all started 11 years ago when I received my Masters in Sustainable & Green Design. Incidentally, I received it in-between becoming a wife and a mother…talk about an emotional rollercoaster.

My intention was to get my Bachelors and Master’s degrees before children, in hopes of being able to rock the Interior Design world once they were in school.  I envisioned a couple kids, big house, fancy cars, and a lifestyle that would require two incomes. Then I had my first bundle of joy, second, and third, which only left me longing for more.  Oh how I long for more! I absolutely love motherhood, I love children, I honestly had no idea how much I loved children until I had my own. There is nothing I would love more in this world than to have a couple more adorable additions. I would gladly do the whole diaper, nursing, potty training, etc. all over again. I realize some may think I am crazy and that’s okay, ten years ago I would have thought I was crazy too. But it is what I yearn for, what my heart desires. I would gladly stay in this house forever, gone is the notion that a big house or fancy cars are of any importance. I have grown, I realize what is important in life, and it is the people, the relationships, those are the true treasures that should be worshiped. And I realize money is always a factor but it should be noted that children only need be as expensive as parents allow them to be…cloth diapers, nursing, secondhand clothes, public schools/homeschooling, limit extracurricular (when you have a lot of brother and sisters you can start your own Chess club, Scouts, etc.) potluck parties…you’d be surprised what children don’t actually need (i.e. iPad, iPhone, designer anything, their own cars). Unfortunately it doesn’t look like any more bundles of joy are in my future. It breaks my heart. And this has been the most difficult dream I have ever had to bury. But bury I must, until of course I see a pregnant woman, another mom asking if we are “done”, or advertisement for fostering/adopting, and then the feelings start stirring up again. Why must the thought of a new soul entering our family be so magnificent??? Ugh! I suppose I have true love to blame, oh true love…doing something for someone else without thinking about the pain it may cause you. Thus, I am at a crossroad in life. I am standing at the intersection of stay at home mom & working mom and screaming for directions!! My heart says stay at home but my mind says work!

I no longer have a baby or toddler in a crib, logic says I should move on and venture outside the home.  Shoot, “old me” before children (BC) me says go be that amazing Interior Designer you dreamt you would be and worked hard for your education to become.  After all women didn’t work so hard to overcome everything just so I would be a SAHM with professional degrees. But maybe they had it all wrong, maybe it was about options, being able to choose to stay home and be the most amazing person in 3 little children’s lives or maybe go to work fulltime, or part-time, my choice. Maybe for once I agree, when it comes to mom with a career vs. motherhood as a career it should be the woman’s choice.

I don’t know what my choice will be next year or even next month but for now I choose SAHM.

For now I am enjoying the company of my 4 year old and nursing a wounded heart going through the grieving process of an empty crib. Can you relate? How do you know when it is time? Time to be done with having babies? Time to go back to work?


5 thoughts on “The Empty Crib Syndrome

  • I’m giving you a virtual hug right now! Having kids is an amazing experience so I get it. I always wanted three kids but the hubs and I decided not to because of the risk of having another child with apraxia. I still get a little sad to see cute pregnant bellies, but then I go home and find something good to do with the two kids I am so lucky to have. Stay at home and trade the emptiness for a few more memories with some cool kids and an annoying puppy! You will truly know when it’s time for the next phase because it won’t be sad, it will be exciting.

    • Thank you Marisa. I will take that hug & your amazing words of encouragement and hold them near and dear as I pull myself out of this funk. You are so right and so wise! I honestly feel like a bit of a jerk…God has blessed me with 3 healthy children and I have the audacity to be greedy…I am clearly the perfect example of what can happen when you start thinking only of yourself. Thank you again for your kind words and sharing your story…it is encouraging to know I am not the only one who feels a little sad when having a cute preggo belly siting. And BTW, those two precious children that God knew he could entrust with you…that you would advocate and be up for the challenge of raising 2 little super heroes are extremely blessed to have you as a mom, you are amazing!

  • I felt the exact same things that you are going through!! EXACTLY !! I was torn all of the time about doing what I thought I should do in my mind and what my heart wanted. Sometimes things just happen as you move to the next phase and I did go back to work, but it was part time. My youngest was in grade one. In the end, I LOVED working part time and it was the perfect blend of everything for me. Hold on to your hat, cause the heartache doesn’t end. I am already mourning the loss of my 3rd child as she will graduate high school next year. I have told my husband to be ready as I am not sure my heart will be able to handle it!
    Follow your heart and enjoy every moment!

    • Mary I hadn’t even given a thought to college and empty nest…just when I was pulling myself out of this funk. Ugh!! Dear God if it hurts this much now I can’t even fathom the pain of empty nest…now I suddenly have an urge to hug my mother…or any mother dealing with empty nest…I am sending virtual hugs to you! I suppose the one good thing that comes with empty nest is the fact that you are hopefully a step closer to grandchildren. Thank God he gave us grandchildren!! Suddenly I am not so sad, it could clearly be much worse. My heart goes out to you and thank you, thank you for helping me to appreciate what I have and to go with the flow…I must admit, part-time sounds like the perfect compromise.

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