Two years ago I wrote about my heartache when our eldest son left for University.
Two years later he has left us again only this time it is t0 start his third year at Frei Universitat Berlin and I find myself picking up the emotional debris all over again.
I know there are thousands of parents who, like me have been busy dropping off children to Universities up and down the country.
It is a heartbreaking time and I have much empathy for parents because those feelings are akin to feelings of loss.
Not too dissimilar to grief, we feel a sense of loss because our children have flown the nest.
I would love to share my pearls of wisdom to help you get through and tell you that everything will be okay but I am unable to.
I do know that in time I, we, will feel better but at the moment you may be feeling vulnerable and raw inside, like a part of you is missing.
In spite of the preparations, the readiness and the realisation that our children are leaving home, emotionally we are not ready to let them go.
The pain and sadness that many of us feel are normal.
For eighteen years or more, we have looked after them through thick and thin and now they are out there without us protecting them.
It is only natural to worry about them.
Will they make friends easily?
What if they hate the course or the University, or they cant settle?
If like me, you have prepared and readied them, then you have done the best that you can.
Letting go is part of the parental experience, the second time around I thought it would be easier, it is anything but.
Leaving for Berlin on Friday morning only bought the realisation that my son would be leaving this time not for a month or two but a year.
When we said our goodbyes on Sunday I fell apart, I wanted to go outside and scream and hold onto him and never let him go I felt like I was being torn into two pieces.
Germany is not the other side of the world but it may as well be.
We drove to the airport and sat on the plane home emotionally strung out, sad and uncomfortably numb.
The last few months lead to this moment and I carry a sinking feeling in my heart and soul.
The one thing I know for sure is that we raise our children in the knowledge that at some point in the future they will leave us and that is as it should be.
But it doesn’t make it easier.
For some parents, there is a delayed reaction to their children leaving home.
Two years ago a friend of mine said she couldn’t wait to see the back of her son they were constantly fighting and she had had enough.
Then came the first Christmas with the family at home and she quietly fell apart when he left to go back to University, it had finally caught up with her.
A father I know could not reconcile his son leaving home and described his emotions as ‘it feels like losing my left leg, I feel as though I am grieving’.
All of these feelings are perfectly natural they are a normal human reaction because you love them so much it hurts.
Our offspring have left home yet the ’empty nest syndrome’ leaves us completely bereft.
One parent I spoke to said she was delighted that both of her kids had finally left home ‘we can go on holiday at a time that suits us and not be dictated by school holidays’.
Whichever way you feel is perfectly natural there is no right or wrong.
I was not prepared for the wrench two years ago nor am I prepared to manage it now, the only thing I know is that the pain will lessen and I will get used to him not being around us. It is a big adjustment.
Until that time I wander into his bedroom to be close to him, his smell lingers on the duvet but I cannot bring myself to strip his bed.
I hold onto the few clothes in the wash basket that he has left behind.
His trainers with the laces carefully left in their place make me smile and then those feelings of loss accompanied by the sick achy feeling in my stomach wash over me.
There are constant reminders of him but he isn’t here and it hurts like hell.
I am doing the best I can getting through day by day and I am already counting down the days until we see him again.
Being his mother is a joy and privilege and the only thing I need to know is that he is safe and happy.
He is a much loved and cherished son and I know that in time I can let go again.