back to school

all of my friends are posting on facebook about their kids going off to university and colleges and how impossibly hard it is for them to go. so many mothers struggling with cord cutting even as they are proud of their child. kids have no idea how traumatic this event, this ‘moving out’ is on a mother who has invested her entire adult life into keeping a little baby alive. who has had to teach them as much as possible while in our care so that they could actually survive when out of our site, because as ALL mothers know, your precious child is probably in mortal danger, the moment you take your eyes from them. it doesn’t matter that the baby in question is 18 or 19. you see them as a baby, as a toddler as a sweet little child and your brain has not been able to quite get the whole ‘young adult’ thing yet. as a matter of fact, you are sure they JUST started Jr high school.

when kids goes away to school or work or even extended holidays, quite often a mom feels panic. even when they pretend not to. it’s there. of course we know it’s unreasonable and found-less but that does not prevent our brains from traumatically believing that even though this whole growing up thing is ‘normal’ it is somehow ‘wrong’.  it’s wrong to drive your child away and abandon them on the sidewalk of a town you don’t live in. as a matter of fact, had you done the same thing just a few short years before you would have been arrested for child abandonment and now ‘all of a sudden’ just because they are marginally older, you’re supposed to be all okay and fine with it.

moms aren’t fine with it.

my kids have been gone away working for the last 2 to 4 months (depending on which child we’re talking about). They have gone away to work for the last 5 years. What these moms are now feeling, I went through myself years ago and have learned over the last five years that my children can indeed, stay alive while out of my sight. though lord knows after hearing a few of their stories, they had a few close calls with stupidity that could have had fantastically horrific consequences which made me feel nauseous years later just knowing it happened.

just like everything, you get used to the new normal and you ache for them in a way that leaves your arms desperately wanting to hug them and your hands desperate to touch them. then when you finally see them again, you stare at them like a deranged stalker while trying to commit their precious face to memory and compare every tiny change against the last time you saw them. you’d drink them if you could. tuck them in with a blankie and a snuggle if they’d let you. so you  settle for cooking for them and fend off all their inappropriate questions on why your ‘still’ looking at them. the most beautiful and precious thing in the world to you and they ask why you are looking at them? they should feel LUCKY that you haven’t smothered them in affection and treated them like a child does a new puppy.

the reality is you want to smoosh their faces and kiss them 9 million times.

so while all my friends are dropping their kids off at school, miles away from where they live, mine are all coming home. all of them decided to attend schools close to home and live here for the next 4+ years. while my friends are letting go of babies, i have open arms welcoming them home to a full fridge and massive meals with counters full of baked goods and favorite treats. i get to extend their childhood by pretending that i am still needed as ‘mom’ and doing all those little things that they can do for themselves and are adept at doing, simply because i want to make things just a little bit easier on them and for the joy it brings me to hear them thank me for doing it.

my tears are for being ridiculously happy at having all my birds back in the nest and sharing a roof with me. it doesn’t matter that the nest is crowded and loud or that it is getting in rough shape due to the wear and tear brought on by adult babies living in the space; it is the most perfect nest in the world because everyone is in it. all of them. all mine to love and baby and make sandwiches for when they come home from school and to bring cups of tea to when someone sniffles. it’s like being hyper aware that i barely have any time left with them as children who live by my rules, even if they simply pretend that i have any control over them at this point, as i don’t, not really.

the idea that my children simply could have moved out and into the world without this transitional phase, horrifies me. it almost panics me. ‘this’ was hard enough as it was. having them work away and return again, year after year. i have felt this horrible departure that many others are just now experiencing and it doesn’t feel natural or right. to be honest, i am not sure when any invested mother ever is actually ready for this un-natural act of child abandonment. of adult children. who are prepared. and while i am aware of how ridiculous that sounds, it doesn’t stop my mind from reconciling the adult person i see in front of me against the sweet baby i JUST held in my arms, staring at them while they slept; thanking God for letting me be their mom.

i am so grateful i have a few more years ahead of me to get used to the idea that my kids are grown up. i wasn’t ready to let them go for good, i’ll never be ready for that, but at least this brief window of time, won’t make me seem so crazy when it is time for them to leave. they’ll get used to seeing me cry from joy just looking at them when they make it home while driving during a blizzard. they’ll get used to my need to let them go gradually as they shake their heads at my silly behaviour and take the grilled cheese sandwich I left on the counter for them, up to their rooms while i make yet another full, sit down dinner. because i can. and i am grateful for it every single day.

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4 Responses to back to school

  1. willcrimson says:

    You know, I read an article not too long ago based on a study or survey that found that the empty syndrome was harder on men than women. This isn’t the article I read, but I think the other was based on the same information. It would seem counterintuitive, but in the article I read, the observation was that women were more likely to also feel a sense of relief from the responsibilities often unassumed by their husbands or the fathers. Their sense of liberation, the ability to pursue new interests, if not careers, ameliorated the “loss” of the nest. The men, conversely, commonly didn’t know what to do with themselves. In other words, men have a harder time displacing their feeling of loss.

    • rougedmount says:

      I can certainly believe that for parents who have completely focused on child rearing to the exclusion of the primary relationship with their partner or even when they have failed to invest in their own development and hobbies. They would be left with a sense of ‘what do I do now?” Because men compartmentalize better, if they have had their purpose as being an involved father, once the child leaves, it would leave them bereft. Moms are used to multi tasking. Its easier for them to feel relief from the burden of organization, especially if they did not learn to delegate responsibility to kids as they aged into adulthood.
      Personally speaking, my kids are quite independent and self sufficient, which makes all of my efforts at mothering both nostalgic and greatly appreciated by them. I’m in a good place, parent wise

  2. dievca says:

    Had I been able to carry — my child would be leaving for college this year. I have another child I helped raise and they are off to McGill in Montreal (sort of your neck of the woods – not quite). I had a few tears, but am happy they are strong and ready to take on another country and a new life. That means their family and I did our jobs well. They will return to NYC, they always do (I have others who have come back to me — just not the same age). But, they have grown and become their own. No more coddling, no more hand holding. Just respect and love.

    • rougedmount says:

      they shall love McGill…it’s so European and’s a lovely combination for Education. the transition years are interesting ones, for sure…I am sure they have valued you in their lives greatly

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