Broody in the Empty Nest

Lisa writes: In England they call it being “broody,” the clock ticking feeling that the one thing in the world you want to hold is your own baby.  It strikes women in their twenties and thirties and if not dealt with can bring on a sense of panic.  But I am in my fifties, almost in an empty nest, and yet I have been having that familiar tug, that feeling like I want to pick up the babies of perfect strangers and have a little cuddle.  When I see a young mother struggling with a whiny toddler and a crying baby, I want to walk over pick the baby up, put her over my shoulder and with that rocking motion we mothers know so well, calm her to sleep.

broody, baby boy, empty nest feeling broody

At first I thought that this was some sort of game that mother nature was playing with my head, making me broody when my childbearing days are over, but then I thought again.  Mother nature is not playing with me, it is I who played with mother nature and if I remember my margarine ads correctly, this doesn’t end well.

I had my kids in my thirties, long after she intended me to bear offspring.  On my clock I have kids in college and could be a decade away from meeting my grandchildren.  On her clock, I should have already purchased the layette, hosted the shower, offered to take the baby for the weekend and just maybe visited on Grandparents Day at nursery school.  You see I fooled with the timeline the universe had set out for me, yet someplace deep in my soul, deep in a very basic part of my brain the message didn’t get through.



  1. says

    “I am broody.” I sure am! I am on the same schedule, having had my first of three kids just shy of my 30th birthday. My nickname now, among my friends, is “Nonni Wannabe”!

    I think that in some less “developed” cultures there is a place for sage older women; here (in the US) I am feeling just plain outdated.

  2. mompalooza says

    i am glad to find a name for what i am feeling , being ‘broody.’ Although my 3 kids are still at home my first born will leave for college for 2 years and broodiness has descended like a black cloud. it’s depressing to realize i never really will have a tiny baby of my own again. most of my family and friends think i am insane, but glad to know others feel the same way. i bet you too cried in convulsing sobs during Toy Story 3! loved this post

    • lichty says

      Ignorant of the plot, I saw Toy Story 3 just before my eldest left for college. Cried hysterically in public without an ounce of shame! As for the babies, however, I have absolutely NO interest in one of my own – just a grand baby that I can love, cuddle, spoil, and on whom I can correct all of my parenting mistakes.

    • says

      Yes, Toy Story 3 tugged at our hearts. Enjoy having your children at home. In our experience, even with our oldest ones in college, we see them frequently so our lives move into different stages but we are still their moms.

      • says

        Re: Toy Story 3 – my son and I saw it together while at Freshman Orientation for college. At the end he reached out and held my hand. Talk about a tear-jerker!

        A close friend’s 25 year old daughter just got married because she is 5 months pregnant. Kind of knocked the broody out of me really quickly.

  3. says

    I don’t think that basic feeling ever left me. It just switched from wanting a baby of my own to wanting grandchildren.

    (I’m another who watched Toy Story 3 days before my son moved away, and cried, cried, cried.)