Mom's Life Feels 'So Empty' After Her Son Joins The Military— 'He's Still Just My Little Boy'

Change is never easy, but giving voice to the challenges is an act of healing.

soldier and woman sitting together LightField Studios / Shutterstock

Each new phase of parenting raises a wellspring of emotions. Watching your toddler take their first steps is full of excitement and joy, yet the moment can also contain a sense of loss as the realization dawns that your baby is no longer a baby.

Milestones are never clear-cut, as one mom discovered after her 19-year-old moved out.

The mom said her life ‘feels so empty’ since her son joined the military.

In a since-deleted post, she turned to the r/parenting subreddit to ask a vulnerable question: “How do I get through this?”


“I am so proud of him, but our home (and my life) feels so ‘empty’ now,” she said, eloquently capturing the mixed emotions that so many parents have when their kids leave the house.

“He calls regularly, but I miss him,” she said. “He’s still just my little boy, even though I know he’s a man now.”

@_tsyontz PARENTS! If you have a loved one in the military heading to boot camp, MOS school etc —this videos for you! #marines #usmc #military #marinecorps #bootcamp #army #navy #airforce #mcrd #training ♬ original sound - Taylor Yontz

RELATED: 7 Ways The Army Made Me A Better Husband And Dad


“Is that it?” she asked. “19 years of coexistence, and now he is no longer here.”

The mom felt "ripped apart" by her son’s absence, even though she was proud of his accomplishments.

While anonymous internet forums can be volatile spaces, the responses on this thread showed how nurturing strangers can be.

Other parents gave practical and emotional guidance, sharing ways for the mom to mend her broken heart.

Another mom whose son was in the service shared honest and direct advice based on her lived experience.

“Grieve,” she said. “Take your time and grieve.”

She shared how “brutally painful” it was and how “devastated” she felt when her son joined the Marines, urging the mom not to rush the process.


She noted how different it is to have children leave for college compared to joining the military, saying, “I've got kids who went to college and my son in the Marines, and there's just no comparison at all.”

“When my Marine first left, I couldn't call him, talk to him, or even see him,” she said. “My college students, I can talk to whenever I want, text them all day long, [and] visit regularly.”

She described the deep pride and love she has for her son, knowing how much he’s growing and expanding his worldview, yet she acknowledged that those feelings don’t make her feelings easier or any less valid.


“I've grown as a mother, too, because of him and his choice to join the Marines,” she said. “But that didn't make it ‘not hard.’”

soldier with daughter LightField Studios / Shutterstock

RELATED: Veteran Boards Flight Piloted By Man Who Rescued Him From War

“Growth is hard sometimes,” she said simply, revealing an essential truth of being a person in a complex, layered, messy world.


She told the mom to be gentle with herself and to reach out to her community, specifically to other parents going through what she is.

You'll adapt, grow, move forward, and you'll find something truly extraordinary on the other side,” she said. “I won't lie. It's still hard. But you'll find that you've got the strength and ability to do it.”

An army vet shared his perspective from his time in basic training, explaining that what he missed most were letters from his mom.

“Basic Training is mentally hard, so having those letters come in was always a bit of a relief and an escape from the stress of becoming a soldier,” he said.

soldier with mom VGStockstudio / Shutterstock


“Remind him that he has the strength to endure when things get tough ‘cause things WILL get tough. Remind him that he isn't lonely or by himself on those 'dark' nights.”

Another parent affirmed the need for the mom to grieve the transition, saying, “You’re not just losing a daily presence; you’re adjusting to a new way of loving and supporting your son from a distance.”

They urged the mom to let herself be in the emptiness and allow herself to miss him without trying to tamp down her true feelings.

They also advised her to find alternate ways to stay connected beyond phone calls, saying, “Letters are tangible, something he can hold onto and read when he needs a piece of home.”


Their advice held space for the mom’s emotions while recognizing the value of filling her life with “activities and passions that bring joy.”

“This might be a time to rediscover hobbies or interests that you put on hold while raising him,” they said. “It’s not about replacing him but about enriching your life so that the emptiness isn’t as overwhelming.”

@army_boymom Today We said our goodbyes for now to our boy! A Son, A brother and our best friend! We Love you! We will miss you but we know this is part of your journey and we will be right here for you ever step of the way! #armyfamily #sayinggoodbye #leaving #armymom #motherson #Army #soldierintraining #sons #motherslove #myheart #fyp #fortleonardwood #basictraining #seeyoulater #missyou #alwaysbehereforyou ♬ original sound - waylonnihipali

They also shared affirmations that any parent would love to hear, noting that her son’s decision to go into the army “reflects his confidence and independence, qualities you helped foster.”


“Keep in mind that this feeling of emptiness will evolve,” they said. “It might never completely go away, but it will change as you adapt to this new chapter.”

“He’s out there facing new challenges and growing because of the strong foundation you provided,” they said. “Every step he takes is a testament to your love and guidance.”

There are no easy answers to navigating loss or distance or the immense grief that sudden change can bring.

Yet this mom is doing what she can with the tools she has. The mere act of giving voice to her intensely mixed emotions will have healing effects, as will holding tight to the love she has for her son, no matter how much distance there is between them.


RELATED: A Man In The Army Explains How He Made Six Figures From His Job In Just One Year

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