Mom Asks 'How To Be Happy' As Her Children Grow Older — 'I Feel Like My Identity And Life Are Slipping Away'

The mom captured a complex part of parenting — the feeling of loss that accompanies the love.

Mom and two kids lying on bed Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels

A mom wrote to the English parenting forum Mumsnet to ask a heart-wrenching and vulnerable question to the other parents on the site. She opened her post stating, “I know it’s not normal but I can’t understand people who don’t feel this way, but I want to.”

The mom doesn’t know how to be happy as her kids get older, saying, ‘I feel like my identity and life are slipping away.’

“I was a very hands-on mother, didn’t work during the first few years, then worked around school and would take them out twice a week, [and] spend Saturdays playing with them,” she explained. Yet as her kids grow up, they’re beginning to do more without her, which makes the mom feel crushed and alone.


She acknowledged that she has a full life apart from her kids. She said, “I’m part of a local group which I love and still work,” though neither of those things fills the void the mom feels deepening inside her.

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She recognized that as her kids grow up and leave the nest, she’ll gain a certain freedom — “but I don’t want to be free of them.” She has no partner and owns her own home, and while she mentioned having the option of selling in a few years, she doesn’t want to, because “all our memories are in this house.”


‘I don’t know how to be happy without being my children’s world,’ the mom said.

“I realized too late that I loved being a mother and only had two,” she stated. “Maybe I messed up along the way, but it’s this crippling depression” she can’t seem to escape from. 

The mom clarified that she doesn’t feel like her kids are her entire identity, she also said, “They are the best thing about my life and I don’t think anything could trump it.”

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mom reading with daughterPhoto: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels


The comments left by other parents on the thread were mostly empathetic, though some parents admitted that they couldn’t quite understand the intensity of emotion the mom felt around her kids getting older. One person noted the ambivalence of that particular part of parenting, saying, “It's definitely painful but also very rewarding watching them grow up and move away.”

Someone else reassured the mom that even as her kids grow up, they’ll still want to spend time with her, even though that time might look different. “They don’t go. They just stretch,” they explained. 

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The mom re-entered the discussion in the comments section to offer further clarification on how she felt.

“I have a million things to do but ever since I became a mother I just found it the most wonderful thing in the world and adored my children more than anything,” she said. “I want them to go and be independent, I feel like they're dying. Maybe it was a mistake to be so involved but how can that be? I nurtured them too much? What was I supposed to do? I will just miss them so much, I can already feel it.”


mom with two young kidsPhoto: Elina Fairytale / Pexels

She acknowledged that she needed to find a counselor to help her unpack her emotions around separating from her kids. Another mom validated the mom’s experience by sharing how similarly she felt, saying “I totally get it. It’s a loss, like a slow bereavement.”

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“You want your children to be capable and independent...and then they are, and you wave them off with a big smile and go home and cry. It's part of life, part of being a mom.”

She ended by explaining that she had no suggestions on how to make it hurt less, noting, “It’s just something we all go through.”

While the mom’s emotional conflict doesn’t have one clear answer, the fact that she was able to openly declare how difficult she found this stage of parenting is a powerful act. The reality of parenting is that one day, your kids will grow up and establish a life that’s separate from the one you’ve cultivated as a family unit. But that doesn’t automatically translate into a loss.


Rather, the relationship a parent cultivates with their adult children can be equally as nourishing as when they were young, encapsulating the same love, in a different form.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.