When no one flies the coop 52



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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.

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.

Guest Contributor

  1. Just waiting for all the nasty comments to start, slamming you for being “selfish”. Good for you doing what suited you rather than bowing to societal pressure. Your body, your life, your choice.

    1 REPLY
  2. To each his own. But I wouldn’t have wanted life any other way than with my children. I was like you when growing up, unable to see the fun in looking after and nursing children. But it all changed when I had my first. Hormones prepare us for this role. And now I am enjoying my grandchildren. I am glad to know that you have no regrets. I am surprised that you haven’t had health issues for having a hysterectomy so early in your life. So many do.

  3. My son left home many years ago and while it was a loss at first ( I desperately missed him ) after awhile it occurred to me that I had far less housework to do and I could suit myself on how I wanted to live my life, I always put him first and still do to a degree. In saying that I mean things like meals, if you have someone to care for , you have to give them full meals, veg and meat ect but I can just have a sandwich for dinner now if I want lol

  4. Very selfish

    4 REPLY
    • Selfish? So, Herbie, you’re saying we should have children to please others even if it makes us unhappy?

    • Be fruitful and multiply

      2 REPLY
      • Look what happens in third world countries where they have no choice but to go forth and multiply. Many parts of the world are overcrowded as it is and so many children are born into poverty and suffer horrendously, yet you call someone who chooses not to add to that suffering selfish? I often wonder if it is right to bring any children into this world – there is so much suffering anyway. Every child should be born to be wanted, loved and properly cared for.

  5. Great!!!!. A woman who knows what she doesn’t want.Not every woman has to have children to feel complete. There are some women who should never have children. You shouldn’t feel compelled to have to explain to people why you don’t want kids but some people are always convinced they know what is better for you and they can never mind their own business.

  6. great that you are enjoying your life. i am certainly not worried about putting aside for the kids, they have to earn like I did.

  7. I think this woman should be congratulated for making a decision that suited her, not guided by others expectations. Being a parent is a very hard job and some people are just not meant to be parents. I have experienced the good and the bad of parenting, I dared to be different to the stereotype mother. The biggest joy is actually having grandchildren as they love you more unconditionally. We are allowed to have choices, we all should live our lives to be happy and be unique…….there has always been a snobbery connected to being either a mother or a career woman…..

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