When no one flies the coop

Every time I flick through a magazine for over 60s or see a website for us, there’s undoubtedly several articles on ’empty nest syndrome’ and how your last child flying the coop is enormously heartbreaking. There’s tips on how to make the transition, how to deal with it emotionally, and how to maintain a good relationship. But what about those of who have always had an empty nest? I’m one of them.

the decision to not have children has not something I made lightly, however at 25, I had a hysterectomy. This completely shocked my family, particularly my mother. She was beside herself and could not fathom that her only child was not going to bear her grandchildren. She didn’t talk to me for 2 years afterwards and, after several arguments that ended in tears, she finally understood that it was my body and my choice.

I had never felt that motherly instinct that other women had, but I don’t remember ever feeling envious of them. Even as a young girl I didn’t like to pretend I was a mummy to my dolls. I preferred to be the nurse or the doctor and leave it that. When I turned 15, I went to the local shop and asked for a part time job. I was a checkout chick for 4 years and during that time I saw toddlers squealing, baby crying and a whole mess of kids running around – and not one of them did I find adorable or even cute. Soon, my friends started having their own children and even as I held them, I felt no desire to have my own. So, after thinking about it for 2-3 years, and after several near-misses and complications with contraceptives, I had my uterus removed. It was a bit emotional at the hospital, having so many nurses giving me sympathetic looks. But I finally had the operation I wanted and was able to live more freely and independently, knowing I wouldn’t have to make another decision years down the track.

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Finding a partner who wanted to stay with me knowing I was infertile, barren, inexcusably uterus-less, was a bit of a challenge. But I finally found a man who didn’t mind and we have been happily married for 38 years. He didn’t want children either and was actually relieved when I told him that I wasn’t like the other women he had met – I wasn’t craving a child. So, we have since lived freely. We are able to go on holidays when we like and we have lived all over the world. My husband and I have also been granted the great privilege of not having had to work full time for 20-odd years…and we definitely could not have done that if we had children to bring up. We would be working tirelessly to provide for them. I have nieces and nephews on my husband’s side and they are fabulous. That’s all I need.

But what about having a family? A family to me has always just been me and my husband. And as long as we are happy and healthy, that’s all I need. My friends and other family members have gone through the empty nesting and are suddenly having to deal with just being alone with their partner for the first time in 20+ years…and some can’t handle it – some have divorced or separated because they realised they didn’t love each other. I’m glad I’ve never had that issue.

So, when I think of dealing with my empty nest, I sigh with relief knowing that there’s probably more of us out there who are entering retirement without needing to think about how much to put aside for our kids!


Have you always had an empty nest? Did you want children or were you happy without? What are the pros and cons of being childless? Tell us below.