I have this thing with being left behind.
I guess it’s an “issue.” I want to leave first, die first, I want to be the goer, doer. I’m not aware of any abandonment issues, and if I have them, it’s too late to delve into that mess. I’m an adult, a mom, who has a hard time just getting to the right place at the right time. Any “issues” I have, unless they are dramatically affecting the lives of those around me, will need to take a seat.
I don’t like being left behind. Everyone in my family knows it, but as with all things adult, like it or not, I’m often left. It’s in the job description of a parent. The small print. I didn’t pay attention when I was falling in love and having babies, but it’s in there.
After steps one through one million are completed in no particular order, said child will fly the nest, make his/her own way, essentially he/she will leave his/her permanent spot at the breakfast table only to return for brief visits, trying times, and holidays.
Sigh…I didn’t read this part. I didn’t know, but like the clueless mortgage crisis people, I signed, I committed.
My oldest left for college almost three years ago. I survived. Her room now has lovely furniture and it’s clean. I’m fine. I talk to her almost every day. We Snapchat, we have lunch or dinner often. She’s in my life and I’m part of hers. It has worked out, but as promised in the small print, she has left me behind to make a life of her own. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, that is what I want for her, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
My middle child, my only son, graduated high school last week. He leaves for Europe on Monday. He’ll be gone for a little over a month. Exploring, on his own terms, and having a solo adventure. When he returns he will have a little bit of summer left with us, and then leave for college. He won’t be far, but he will no longer set the alarm when he gets home just under his curfew. I will no longer hear him talking in his sleep, or watch him eat everything in the fridge. He will pack up and leave, head out to make a life of his own.
As I prepare myself to be left behind again, I remember the number one rule of parenting. The one no one ever teaches you, it doesn’t even appear in the small print. It’s the rule you learn as the years of blankets and pee squirting train rides turn to kindergarden and then slip to school dances. Months and moments of lazy California days and family adventures that turn to power struggles and arguments, but then softly drift to lessons learned, a cap and a gown.
As a life forms, cascades past you, the rule becomes clear.
Parenting is not about you.
It’s not about your “issues” or the steadfast rules you’ve set about for your life. It’s about your children, what is best for them, what will ultimately lead to them being well adjusted, happy, adults.
My son will leave our home in August. It’s time and he needs to go, I get that. But, please don’t bore me with the “he’ll be back” or “they never really leave” because they do, it’s different.
He will go and despite my anxiety, I will be left behind. Sure he will look back, visit, he’ll probably even go on vacations with us. Depending on his grades, he may even need to circle back around to our house, but it will never be the same.
I know, I’ve done this before.
After a couple of semesters we will settle into adult child/parent life and that is wonderful too. There will be all new firsts as we watch our son move forward. I know all of this, but I’m not there right now. Right now, I will miss putting laundry on his bed. I will miss him sitting next to me at the table, and I will miss his bounding laughter as it echoes down the hall.
My nest will have one less bird, I will be left behind. It’s nothing personal, it’s just the small print.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Nighter.