Sunday, August 23, 2015

My empty nest

I knew it was coming, and so did you because I've been talking about it for months, haven't I?  On Thursday, my son left home to move into the dorms at his college.
I've been anticipating the change and I knew it would be hard, but the reality feels so much worse than what I thought it would be like.  I'm kind of surprised that I haven't heard a lot of talk about how awful this transition is from other moms who have already been through it.

Oh, there are a couple of articles on coping with your child leaving home on the Internet that have come my way, but, seriously, there should be whole books.  Remember What to Expect When You're Expecting?  There needs to be a book like that for this phase of life, too.  It could be called something like, What You Need to Know to Let Go and it could be filled with sage advice on things like how to stop listening for them to come home every night, and what to do with all the extra milk in the refrigerator.

There could be charts showing milestones and when to expect them -- like the first time you come across his favorite snack in the grocery aisle without tearing up, and that moment you actually feel happy to have the TV all to yourself.

There would need to be a whole chapter on ways to not be clingy/needy, including a checklist for not calling, emailing and/or texting your kid multiple times a day, with a chart that shows you just how long is long enough to wait to make that first, post dorm drop-off contact.

Such a book might even lay out a timeline for how long it might take to stop feeling so sad.  During week one, expect to feel your heart in your throat at the sight of your child's empty bedroom.  By the end of week three, your chest should feel less like it has been cut open and more like healing has begun.  Until this happens, avoid laying on your child's bed clutching his pillow as it could lead to more frequent bouts of sobbing and self-pity.

This is day four.  I think I have a long way to go!

8 comments :

carol fun said...

Hang in there...it does get better...but I don't think you ever stop missing them. I cried for the entire 3 hour road trip home from dropping my son off to Purdue. I was so happy when he finally graduated and moved back to town. He's more independent than before he went off to college but at least he's close by. Will your son be back for Thanksgiving? That first year my son was away I kept track of the days till he would visit... it helped a bit. Hugs!!!

Linda said...

It gets better, sort-of. My kiddo, now 45 y.o., lives not too far, but does involve a 2-hr ferry ride....and, yes I do look forward to whenever she comes this way to visit us. So while you never stop missing them, it does get a titch more manageable. axNow I really anticipate her next visit. Hang in there Laurie.

Linda Sue said...

I am here to tell you IT DOES NOT GET BETTER! It just changes...I am so there with you Laurie! Then a holiday rolls around and Ben will come home and there is much happiness and your heart is full...then the damned holiday is over , Ben leaves and again you go through this . No body ever warns us really...and there is nothing we can do about it anyway, just take care of yourself...take a month long trip to London (or wherever) after the dust settles and you realize that , yup, he is gone, going full blast into his life, and you remember how that was when you were at that age. It just sucks for Moms who love their kids so much and have been such good moms that their kids are great company , decent human beings, such a joy to spend time with. Nothing can top it, best job of your life and suddenly your fired! No severance pay, no party, Just Whoomph, rug out from under !! DAMN! Everything is different now, I am holding your hand from afar, my heart breaks for you...and for me...and I swear it does not get better, it just fugging changes! LOVE YOU!

Linda Sue said...

I still buy the favorites snacks for Erik and send care packages regularly, it makes ME feel better...

Kathy said...

Laurie, my heart is aching for you. It will feel less raw after a while and you will settle in to your new normal. It sounds so cliche but time really is the cure. For now just try to focus on the good parts like less laundry to do!

Curtains in My Tree said...

It's hard when you have an only child

I never felt that way when my kids left

My hardest thing was when my youngest daughter married and moved 3 hours away I cried for a month LOL

Brace yourself Laurie you will be just fine, be glad he's at college getting an education to provide for him and his family to come. Just think your future daughter in law may be at that very college

Just go make me a lace book and you will feel better xoxox

Janice

Lorraine said...

Even at 32 and 34 now I stand at the window when they pull out of the driveway and watch and pray and feel another tug at my heart as I fight back the tears. I won't say it gets better, it just gets different. And though I hate to see them go, we, my husband and I, are dancing a different dance without them. Keep yourself busy - it helps.

Kelli Davidson said...

I am an only child coming from a pretty long line of them on my dad's side, I have continued that with my only child daughter and she has with her only child son. We have experience in this area - I went to college 5 hours from my hometown so going home would have to be holidays only due to studying and a part time job.

Your son will begin to really miss you about Labor Day - oh, he will be having fun but what about that favorite treat you made him or those comic books you always got on to him about leaving around...........my dad had my mom pick up little trinkets and treats for me from the time I left until a few days before Labor Day - It was about the size of a shoebox.

When it arrived on the Friday before the very first holiday I would spend away from my friends and family - I laughed and cried and ate my favorite cookies (Pinwheels) even though they were smashed a bit. They put in a little extra cash (it was a $20 each time) I called home and had a good talk with my parents.............it made them feel better and me too.

My mom told me later that when she would send me those packages (once a month! and I anticipated every single one!) she somehow felt closer. She would put funny sayings and sweet notes that reminded me that she and dad loved me even if I messed up a big test. My friends were jealous and it kept me from getting into much trouble.

I continues that with my daughter and I fully expect her to carry that one with the little grandson grows up and goes to college.

Choosing a few things for the care package always kept the upset feelings at bay for a little while........try it!