Tuesday, January 29, 2013

preparing to let go


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.


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Blessings to you,




I’m linking up here:



Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Oh, Leslie! I feel just what you are going through! I let go too... not too long ago. It's part of the process... but let me promise you, you will love empty nesting eventually. And really your nest is empty less time than you at first imagine!

Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap said...

awww...such a sweet post!

Meg said...

I am about to ship my firstborn off to college (one left behind for a few more years). The last few months have been filled with moments that we realized were the last time we would likely be doing with the boy as a family, at least for awhile. (This weekend for example will the last time he is home for Super Bowl Sinday.) His sister starts high school the same fall he leaves for college and we start all oveer again.

Jeanne Henriques said...

All I can say is AMEN to that Leslie...a beautiful post, written so eloquently and understood, deep in my heart. Thank you... xx

thistlewoodfarm said...

Oh friend....I just love your blog. Truly. You have such a way with words and such an incredible voice. Thank you for sharing your heart today!


Cyndia said...

You nailed it. My daughter left for college and I thought I'd be glad to see her go, as her high school years were quite tumultuous. I wasn't though. I was devastated; a huge hole opened up inside me. Six months later, she came back home, realizing she had made poor choices and needed to regain her equilibrium. She was only home a few months, but grew up enormously during that time, and by then, we both were ready. It's been 12 years now. I miss her terribly, but we talk often from whatever country she is in (she's military) and our relationship has evolved so much that we now count each other as the best of friends.

Anonymous said...

I've been there and done that and it is very hard. It is an entirely new experience once they go off and are on their own at school. Mine have been out of college now for a while and are married and have children (yeah) and it all starts over.

Pattie (Lilacnpearls) said...

Thank you for your beautiful & insightful thoughts! I am in the midst of trying to cherish each day with my 15 yr old sophmore daughter knowing that in 2 years I too will be facing the same heartache, fear & emptiness you have so tenderly expressed! God Bless :)

Anonymous said...

That poem from a much younger Michael is so beautiful! And the photo of the brothers in the preschool years is priceless. The other day, I popped into the retail store where my 18 yr old high school senior was working the cash register. He didn't see me at first and I just stood there marveling at how responsible and competent he has become! I do the exact same thing, by the way... waking up in the middle of the night wondering whether I've prepared them... thankful the younger two are still in the nest, for a short while anyway. Beautiful post. Thank you.

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

I felt so clutchy when my first one wanted to go. Oh it was hard. But in the end they are all lingering, semi-dependent, still messy as heck, still needing money and clean clothes. Is this what I wanted? Not having a wise Mr. Moss I get so confused. I want them but I don't. I want them to be as determined as I was but they are only halfway there. I worry if I have spoiled them, ruined them. I worry a lot.

Perhaps the lesson for me in this post is that it's okay to step back and name your emotions. I often do lists to keep sane. Perhaps I should do lists of my emotions as well. Thank you xxcat

Gypsy Heart said...

So very true! You write so beautifully and the words are exactly what I experienced when mine left. You do adjust! :)


Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Oh Leslie, you and Mr. Moss are both quite wise!

Lori said...

What a beautiful post.

Kristi said...

Oh boy, I think about this NOW and mine are only 12 and 4 1/2!!! I start to worry about when they won't live here anymore. Then I think take a deep breath and r e l a x......
At least Mr Moss has some sound advice! When I express my worries and thoughts about them growing up he tells me we have to have another one!!! ;)

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