It's the season of moaning and crying in parking lots and going all broody in a bedroom that used to hold all the stuff of childhood ... but now is emptying because the former child is old enough to move out. Many women on many blogs are moaning and sighing and sympathizing with each other. But I wish they (we) could all realize a couple of things. Mostly, I wish we could realize that all these waves and more waves of emotion have very little to do with our kids.
First, there is the matter of the alternative.
If your kid is old enough to go, he didn't die in a tragedy, or from a lingering disease, or from a birth defect. You got a healthy kid. Say thank you. Consider the alternative.
If your kid is able to go, then he has at least a minimum of the psychological, intellectual, and emotional qualifications necessary. He does not need long term care. What you're not trying to find is a placement - just in case something happens to you. He'll be okay without you, just like you were okay without your parents. Say thank you. Consider the alternative.
If your kid is eager to go, then you've done your own job, and you've done it well. What could be more a cause of rejoicing than a young adult who wants to be one? Who wants to try his own wings, and have his own life? Full of hope and plans and ideas - and fear. Don't forget the fear. Your kid is scared and trying not to think about it. Say thank you. His optimistic hope will buoy him up, and his fear will help protect him. That's what you've given him - hope and good sense. Say thank you. Consider the alternative.
And then realize something.
This isn't about your kid.
Who are we if our kids can leave us? That's the real heart of the matter. It is our own lives we cry over. It is our own youth we grieve.
If your kid can leave, and is ready to do it, and wants to ... then you yourself are not a kid. If our kids are leaving we are not the young parents of young offspring. We ourselves are entering a new phase of life, and this is true even if we still have young people at home.
The test we fear is not the one our kids are ready to face in their own lives - our kids are ready. And ready or not, here it comes. Their lives are waiting for them to come and learn and grow and try things and have failures and recoveries and successes and great joy and griefs of their own. That is not a sorrowful thing. That is not why we cry.
We cry and are a little afraid because we've been so busy that all of a sudden, without the vast expanses of time in which to anticipate it that we had when we were the kids, the next phase of our lives is here. Here. Now. Right here. Damn! How did this happen? How did I get to be the person who is old enough to be The Mom to the kid who's leaving home? Who am I now? What will I do with my life? I'm not that old, am I? Is that even possible?
If your kid is leaving home, you've already shed a couple of tears with things like first rolling over and first steps and weaning and getting dressed all on one's little own. This is the same as that in your child's life. It's actually good news - and your tears are not for your child. Your tears are for your own memories and your own attachment and your own love.
So go ahead and cry them. But please - for the sake of that kid who's just as terrified and just as excited as he used to be at the top of the stairs, learning to come down - for the sake of the kid who does see every once in awhile how much is at stake and knows full well that it's very scary out there - for the sake of the kid who learned from your casual attitude that he didn't have to collapse and wail when he scraped his knees - for the sake of that kid, show him how happy you are that he's all grown up now. This is good news. Consider the alternative.
And if you cry in the shower, it's easier to get away with it.