Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Art Of Letting Go, Grieving, and Perspective...

The calendar has turned to August, and despite my internal protests, I have no choice but to face the countdown that I have tried to avoid in my head since summer began.

August is always a bittersweet month for me. I am one of those moms that loves to have my children around me and the impending first day of school always brings with it feelings of sadness for me. This year, those feelings are magnified 100 fold...or at least that’s the way my heart feels!

In less than 2 weeks, two more of our sons will be moving out. Andrew, who graduated in May and began his first real full time job at the beginning of July, will be moving in with one of his best friends since high school. It’s only about 25 minutes away and will cut his commute time to his job to less than half the time it takes from home.

It’s a big step for him...and for us.

In only 3 days(!), Jon will be heading to grad school over 2 hours away. Visits will be limited to a couple weekends a month and school vacations. This time away has a bigger meaning because it’s more like a weaning process for us. With a wedding date set for May 24, 2020, he will never move back into our house as a full time resident again.

It’s a big step for him...and for us.

I am truly excited for both of them as they take such big steps in their personal lives.  But I would be lying if I said that it didn’t hurt. It hurts a lot. I am laboring to let go of the spot they have held in my heart and our home as children and trying to comprehend this new relationship and our new rolls that we will have with these upcoming life changes. The waiting and the countdown to the day they both actually leave and the change it will bring to our lives is like giving birth all over again. When this “emotional labor” of the countdown to moving day ends, I don’t get a beautiful snugly baby to hold in my arms!

We have spent over 20 years nurturing these sons of ours. There have been good days and bad days. There are decisions we have made that we would do differently if we had the knowledge and hindsight we have now. We are not perfect parents and they are not perfect children. But we are very proud of the young men they have become and the choices they have made so far in their lives. Their stepping out of our fold and starting their own independent lives is only filled with sadness because of the hole it will leave in our family. For that, I am very grateful.

It’s just a chest filling grief that our family life as we know it is ending...and I’m just not ready. And I’m blessed because I still have several younger kids in the house, but part of me is only thinking that I am going to have to go through this over and over (and over and over) again. These children who grew in my body and I gave birth to, the thousands and thousands of hours spent nursing, rocking, walking, caring for and loving, are moving on and all that’s left is grief and loss.
Melodramatic....maybe...but the feelings are real!

It’s a big step for us...and one I'd rather not take right now. It’s yet another thing not in my control. I’m trying to focus on being grateful for the gifts they have been in our lives and not on the fact that I will have to do this letting go thing again. I know it’s a gift to have all these children. With so many you would think a few moving out wouldn’t matter...but it really does.

Two weeks ago, I got to go to a daily Mass on my own in a different parish. The priest celebrating Mass was a retired priest that we know. I was very melancholy and emotional that day. I was having trouble with "leaking eyes". After Mass, the priest was talking to another family sitting behind me and also said hello to me and asked about my family. My eyes watered, but I was able to hold back the tears while explaining I had two heading out of the house. The priest mentioned that he was from a family of 7 and when he asked his mom when they were down to 4 left at home if she liked that things were a little easier and less crowded she replied, "I miss things the way they were."

It helps to know that you aren't alone in your feelings.

It's been an emotional summer for me living with this internal countdown and trying to work through all my feelings. I've been doing lots of praying...and lots of crying...and some days I have felt like I just can't get out of my own way and long to feel more "normal" and think "why can't I just deal with all the changes and stop having so many bloody emotions!"

And then comes perspective...

Recently, we found out that one of the staff at the high school most of my kids have gone to had thier 20 year old son, Lucas,  that was diagnosed with cancer. Jon knows Lucas and his sister was in Sarah's graduating class. I feel so incredibly horrible for this family. In a moment, they went from planning a summer vacation to putting sophomore year of college on hold and facing 6 rounds of chemotherapy treatment. I can only imagine the fears that are bouncing in their minds about what the future holds. Such a big cross for this loving, faith filled family.

My cross seems a little less heavy when I think of what Lucas' family is going through. It also helps that now my grief and suffering from the change and separation will have a purpose...I will be offering it for Lucas and his family. It gave me some good perspective and helped to calm my typhoon of grief into the tropical storm size that it really is.

For all of you moms that are getting ready to drop off your babies..err young at college or facing a big life change, just know that you aren't alone. The sadness will calm down(eventually) and our lives will settle into a "new normal" as our homes and hearts adjust. Text messages and phone calls will be little treasures...and face time is even better! While our young adults will enjoy their new freedom...and adjust to the new stress of life in a different world where they are responsible for themselves...they will become much more appreciative of the home cooked meals, comfortable beds, and having people that care for them when they come back to visit.

And, if you think of it, please say a prayer for Lucas and his family. Us moms have to stick together!

See you on the other side!

Image result for cartoons about moms sad their kids are going to college