As I sit here writing at 12:30 a.m., I am trying to put into words how painfully difficult it is to get my head around my eldest son being grown up and leaving in two months. I know I should be thrilled and excited for him and his new adventures. I am. Really. It is just so hard to imagine my life in this house, in this town, and during my days without him. I am so mad at myself for allowing my sadness and fears to dampen my joy of this time with him. When he cracks a joke to his younger brother how lucky he will be next year to have me all to himself , and he and his brother make bets on how many times I will cry this year; I laugh along. This is his time. I will not ruin it by having him worry about me or bringing negative energy into his moment. I want him to leave home feeling confident, happy and without guilt or worry. I have had the conversation several times with him that I will be fine. That yes I will be sad, but that is a part of the process I need to go through as one part of my life, the most wonderful part of raising him, is over and moves into the part of support and guidance when he needs me; but not an everyday presence. That it is an amazing win and accomplishment for me to have raised a man I am so proud to call my son, my friend, and one of the best people I know. However, I grieve that he won’t be around every day and that our relationship will change. All for the better. But change all the same.
I have not been myself for weeks. Every night for the past two months I have had the same nightmare. I wake up in a complete panic and cold sweats because I forgot to do something for my eldest son with regard to his college admissions or high school graduation, which is this week. Throughout the days during the last two weeks, I have had a feeling of unrest and anxiety. The worst part is I can’t stop crying. I tell myself, “Get a hold of yourself girl! Tyler has not left yet. He is here every day. It is not time yet for tears and sadness. Enjoy every minute with him and break down after he leaves.”. It got so bad, that last Sunday I was in my Zumba Class, the one class I do for fun and which actually has the effect of lifting my spirits, and as I was doing the Samba I burst into tears right in the middle of the dance. I had to run out. It came upon me in a rush so powerful I felt like I was drowning in the sorrow. Now, this really pissed me off because I really love that class! It also made me realize I was in trouble. I was depressed and started to get lost in it. I could not stop the waves of emotion that washed over me and had me gasping for air when I allowed it to overpower me.
As I drove home from the gym, I realized at the basis of this oncoming depression was fear. I am so afraid my relationship will change with Tyler. I am afraid of the emptiness in the house for Ben and I when he is away. That he won’t need me anymore. I am terrified of the pain I am feeling and the intense grief I will feel when he leaves. I don’t want to feel it. Dammit, I don’t want him to leave. Why can’t I go with him? I can’t even write right now because I am crying so hard I can’t see the screen, and it’s hard to breathe. Hold on, I have to go blow my nose.
And there it is. The humor. Yes, I had to go blow my nose because I had snot running down my face from crying. No one said this launching a child into the world business would be easy. From the day our children are born we hold them in our arms, love, cherish, promise to protect and keep them safe. As these little humans grow into adults, we love, cherish, admire, and still want to protect and keep them safe no matter how old or big they become. The issue then becomes how do we let go of being the fierce protector, teacher, mentor, main annoyance and champion of our children? I guess the answer is, we don’t. Parents will always be those things. We just have to let go so that the children we have raised into independent adults can find their own way to success and realizing their dreams.
Your child is your dream. You have done your job for now. It’s not over. A new chapter in your relationship together is starting. Your new job is to continue to be your child’s teacher, mentor, and number one cheerleader. All that you have always been. Only from a distance and in a different way. It is time for your child to be the adult you worked so hard to raise, and go out into the world and figure out who he or she is supposed to be. Your child will never be alone. You will always be there. Your child knows that. That is the reason he or she can go. You have taught your child how to be in the world without you as an everyday presence, however, you have also taught your child they always have a place to come back to and loving arms to fall into when they need them.
- Acknowledge and recognize your feelings and change in behavior.
- Understand they are normal and allow yourself to feel them and go through the waves of emotion.
- Decide whether, due to these feelings, your behavior has changed to the point it is affecting your everyday behavior and relationships in your life. If it is that severe seek help from a medical and/or psychological professional.
- Focus on the positive things in your life and in the situation. Do not allow yourself to wallow in the negative. Find humor in the situation and laugh.
- Rejoice in your accomplishments. Feel proud of them. Rejoice in your child’s accomplishments and be proud of them as well.
- Focus on the future and how bright it will be for both of you no matter what the changes. Change is hard, but not always bad. Many times change is just what one needs to bring in something new and wonderful into one’s life.
- Your child will always be the most special person in your life. That will never change.
- Find something to do that gives you a purpose for yourself and helps you grow emotionally, as well as, personally. This is your time too!