Sometimes I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and thinking, “Oh, Michael is in the next room, how nice.” And I’ll close my eyes and snuggle inside the warm, comforting realization that my youngest is still home.
But there are other times I’ll wake up in a drowsy, clouded state and my first thought isn’t a thought at all, it’s a flutter of panic as I think, “Oh, my God, Michael is graduating soon.”
And in the next second, I’m mentally counting the months, and realizing how little time we have left before he goes. And my mind will go crazy thinking about the clothes on his floor and how messy he is, and why didn’t I do a better job teaching him tidiness? And I’ll be flooded with cringing images of his college room being in shambles.
But mostly, I’ll feel a dull heaviness in my chest that I now recognize as that certain sadness that comes with letting go of one’s children.
How do you learn to live with a missing part? You just do.
I was describing these middle-of-the night feelings to Mr. Moss on one of our evening walks. And he was soothing me with the teachings of mindfulness. “It’s OK Les,” he said. “Just observe your feelings and stop judging. The idea is to simply watch your mind and allow your feelings to come and go,
and Name Them. Whatever the feelings are.”
He gave me an example.
“Right now I’m aware that I’m feeling sad about Michael leaving…and this also makes me a little anxious and worried, wondering if he’s ready…”
He tells me that in order to avoid being led by your emotions and constantly reacting, mindfulness teaches us to develop a degree of healthy separation. And this comes from having a curious, flowing observation of oneself.
It happens when we slow down and listen in the quietness
to our heart.
Patrick and Michael; the preschool days
As I write these words, I’m aware that my pangs of sorrow may be different from yours.
Because letting go is a unique, breathtaking experience for each mother. It has to do with who the child is, and the relationships involved, and the woman herself, and how she deals with Loss.
I’ve also discovered that launching a child out of the home often elicits well meaning comments that happen when someone tries to reassure away our sadness. To plug up the hole with words. And although it’s meant with kindness, I want to assure them I’ve been through this before and that …
I already know I’ll be absolutely fine.
I already know I’ll have a bucket list of projects in the works, because that’s who I am.
I already know I’m lucky in love and grateful to be entering into a new era with Mr. Moss.
And I realize that the soulful bonds I feel with my kids will never prevent me from being the first one to push them out the door, towards those exciting possibilities that await them.
But I’ve also learned that it’s Ok to feel the hollowness, and it’s fine to be mindful of the empty spot where once there was someone and now there’s not. And this I think, is the resplendent courage of a mother’s love. We love our children with every fiber in our bodies and when it’s time
we simply let go. We adapt. We do what’s best for the love of our children.
And if you’re wise, you prepare for the inevitable strangeness of one day waking up and realizing that your college aged child lives miles and miles away from you.
And believe me,
You’re going to be just fine.
Blessings to you,
I’m linking up here: