What do you do, when you don’t know what to do?

Get busy. Just get busy.

Those were the words that kept me going when all I wanted to do was to curl up in a ball and hide. Hide from myself and from the world. I was so embarrassed to be where I was in life.

But there I was, 46 years old and wanting out of my three-month marriage. Not knowing what to do, I got busy. I’d just moved into a new project known as “my ‘70s house” and threw myself into remodeling it.

It was the day “we” were moving in that I realized I had made an enormous mistake and wanted out of my quickie marriage. He didn’t move in with me, but I was paralyzed with fear of what other people would think of me. What I really wanted to do was: Get a quickie divorce.

But instead, I just worked. I scraped popcorn ceilings and tore off 35-year-old wallpaper. I knocked down walls and tiled bathrooms. I pulled up red/orange shag carpeting and resurfaced floors. And I turned a small bedroom into my dream closet, calling it “My Oprah Closet”.

My oldest son helped me until his drag racing team picked back up after having the season off. When he left, I was alone in that house. It was then all of the fears and sadness I had stuffed away came crashing down on me.

I had spent so much time running from my own doubts and fears, that all of a sudden, in my solitude, I could feel it all. Some days I didn’t even go to work, I just stayed in my house in my jammies, crying.

Some mornings I would wake up at 2:00 in tears.

I’d find myself sitting in my Oprah closet surrounded by lovely things and would just start crying. I felt completely lost. How did I get there? Why was I making decisions that weren’t right for me?

And how did my identity get so wrapped up in being a mother?

Ah, now you’re getting to the bottom of it, Loretta.

Sitting on my overstuffed chair in my sunken living room with my lava rock fireplace blazing, the truth of it hit me. I didn’t know how to “be” without my Mom title.

busy thinking


My kids didn’t need me anymore. They were grown men out in the world creating their own lives…without me. For a moment, I envied both of them. How wonderful to be at the beginning and have the world in front of you with unlimited choices.

In that moment I wanted to sell everything and run. Just start driving somewhere, anywhere other than Bend Oregon. But then the practical, sensible me took over and said, “That’s just running. Act like a grown up and stay here and fix this mess you are in.”

And so I that’s what I started doing.

Reader Comments

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Thank you Hilda…it’s not always easy sharing these things. But my hope is it allows others to let go of their shame or embarrassment, and also give us permission to say what we need to.

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      He was supportive Wendy. I know it hurt him deeply, but there was nothing I could do about that. Very confusing time for both of us.

  1. Kalpanaa

    I know how hard it is to live without the Mom title – specially when that’s been your primary role for so many years. At least it was mine. My role as a freelance journalist or yogi came second. I’m so happy you’re writing this down – it will surely encourage others to come out with their empty nester stories. I may even write a blog post about it.

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Thank you for sharing that…and understanding. It seems we have become so worried about expressing our true feelings….we are supposed to be strong independent women at all times! But the truth is, for many of us, the Mom title was and in many ways, still is, the most important one.

      I look forward to reading your story, if you write it!

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      one more thing…I remember when my sons were in high school someone asked me what my favorite “stage” was with them. I said, without hesitation: All of them. I loved every stage from newborn on!

  2. Kerry LifeandLoves

    Ohhh I hear you. As a Mum of two boys, 16 and 18 I am just on the cusp of them being independent, I love and hate it in equal measure. Empty nest syndrome is a real thing! Thank you for sharing lovely lady xx

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