role models for teenagers

I can let go now

Here I am, picking up the emotional debris strewn before me when we dropped off our eldest son at Warwick University last Saturday.empty nest syndrome

I have read about this so called ‘loss syndrome’, I have even written about it, but absolutely nothing prepared me for the emotional upheaval I felt as we said our goodbyes last Saturday to our beloved son.

I was warned by friends, each of whom have experienced what has become known as the empty nest syndrome.

I even laughed when one of them in the first few weeks made weekly trips up to the University to drop off supplies and much needed food, ‘you need to let them go’, I rebuked.

I regret even suggesting let alone saying those words, now that I understand the pain and feelings of loss she was going through, and that was over three years ago.

The eldest has now graduated and is working in London the younger daughter headed off to Bristol and she is experiencing the same bitter sweet pain of loss.

‘I now have two empty bedrooms’, she told me.

empty nest syndromeI was not prepared for the visceral wrench the ripping out of the heart and stamp on it feeling.

The wave of complete and utter loss and desolation, I am bereft as the leaves that whisk past me as I walk through the car park.

The feelings I am experiencing of pain and sorrow are akin to grief.

If this is what grief feels like then I am ill prepared to face it.

The past three weeks have been a mixture of frustration, anxiety and ‘can’t wait for him to leave’ such was the buildup of tension, excitement and emotional turmoil.

It felt like there was so much more time to spend with him and yet I find myself wondering did I really do enough?

We should have gone to London like we talked about, and, taken a walk together, mother and son.

And I can’t have that time back again.

He wants independence and the freedom to move on and learn new things. It is not my son’s problem to cope with what I am feeling.

Whilst we unpacked and I sorted the food cupboard and bathroom, my younger son and my husband set about doing the practical stuff.

All the while I was slowly losing a bit of him to his new found independence.

I find it difficult to reconcile that I won’t get a call from him when he’s leaving the athletics track on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, ‘Hi Mum just ringing to let you know I’m leaving for home now’.Mother With Teenage Son Sitting On Sofa At Home

I miss the banter in the car when I pick up the boys from school and how he would tell me about his day.

I don’t know the details of when he goes out, whom he is going with and where he is going.

We have grown use to him sharing with us what he is doing, where he is going and who he is with but now that will change.

He is independent, it is his time, he has no need to tell us his every move unless he wants too and we are of course excited to know what he has been up to.

But I know I have to let go of him.

empty nest syndromeThe letting go is like someone taking a knife and pushing it right through the very heart and soul of me.

I am left bare and at a complete loss.

I am emotional when I wash his remaining clothes, I cry when I put his freshly ironed jeans and sweatshirts in his wardrobe.

lie down on his bed when the feelings of loss sweep over me and clutch his PJ’s to my chest, burying my head the smell of him still lingers.

It is a feeling of indescribable wretchedness that envelopes me bringing a lump to my throat and as I write this; if feels like utter dejection, loss and sadness rolled into one.

Like being ‘chucked’ by your first love, that one pain free milli-second  when you stir in the morning with no thoughts then suddenly it surfaces and you feel nothing but heartache.

As the week draws to a close, the feeling of pain has eased.

I was fortunate enough to have a meeting on Monday within half an hour’s drive of the University which allowed me to drop a box of things he still needed.

I wondered with trepidation if this was the right thing to do?

Seeing him again after only two days, how would I react?

Would it set me back, would the angst resurface like a gnawing toothache felt in the pit of my stomach.

But, as it turned out it was wonderful, we chatted and he showed me his reorganised room, he told me about the various clubs and societies he is thinking of joining and the new friends he has met.

As he walked me to the car my spirit lifted, I knew he was safe and well and most importantly taking care of himself.

We hugged and said our goodbyes as I drew out of the car park I waved back and my heart and stomach lurched again but, I am grateful for seeing him, it has reassured me that he is going to be okay.

As I drove out of the car park, I realised that the last eighteen years have been about this very moment, letting go of my first born as he asserts his independence.

But the loss a parent feels, I feel, is so overwhelming.

It is akin to being suffocated.

A mother’s love is wide as it is deep, it never errs or falters and it can never be diminished or demeaned, it is an never ending love and one that is not easily put into words.

Just being a mum is a joy and a privilege and the only thing I need to know is that he is happy and safe.

He is a much loved son and I know that with time I can let go.

More Reading

When 4 becomes 3. The empty nest syndrome

That thing you do called ‘motherhood’

Just being Mum

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