Milestone Development

Sick to my Stomach


As I sat in the departure lounge waiting to board my Westjet flight back home to St. Lucia my heart was heavy and breaking.  I had just left my teenage son who I flew to Toronto with to help him settle into his new condo.  This is the first time he will live on his own outside of the University Residence and I could see he was overwhelmed.  I felt guilty for leaving as he asked me to stay on but I knew I had to go home.  I had another son who needed me at home.  His Godmother who looked out for him in the last year moved to another country and now Mom was leaving too.  I knew he felt alone and overwhelmed and I felt guilty and sad.

While in the departure lounge I saw other friendly faces that were in the same position and feeling the same feelings I was.  I felt sick to my stomach, holding back the tears and felt a huge emptiness in my soul. One of the other mothers spoke kindly to me and touched me on my shoulder and told me it would be alright.  I nearly lost it at that point and felt the tears coming on but I managed to keep it together by distracting myself.

It all hit me at that very moment that we are literally there as guides to do a job and send our kids out into the world and help them to stand on their own and create their own lives.  Obviously I always knew this but never felt it to the core like I did that day.  My son made it very clear while we were together that he is not coming back but only for vacation. That was hard to hear.  I realized that he is an adult now and will make his own decisions and mistakes. The loss of control as a parent is a serious challenge that many have a hard time coming to grips with.  We grieve over the reduction of our roles in our children’s lives and the fact that we don’t have the “say that we used too.

The time comes so quickly for them to leave home.  It seems like he was born only yesterday.  I now have to do this all over again with son #2 in a few years and will definitely be the definition of the empty nest syndrome if not already so. I will not be the first nor will I be the last to go through these emotions however it is very real. I can now relate to other parents who grieve the loss of their kids when it’s time to leave home.  Unlike the grief experienced when (for example) a loved one dies, the grief of empty nest syndrome often goes unrecognized, because an adult child moving out of home is seen as a normal, healthy event. Most parents may find few sources of support or sympathy unless they have that in common with other parents.  So take heart Moms and Dads whose kids have gone off to college, it’s not easy and hopefully this blog will express the real feelings of emptiness and pain in the pit of our stomach so those around us that are not yet in this position can be supportive.

While my last son is still at home I am going to take advantage of the little time we have left together. Two years will pass so quickly and with the snap of a finger he will be gone.  I am committing to spend more time with him, take more of an interest in his likes and dislikes, play cards with him (he loves that), watch his YouTube videos that he loves so much, listen to his music, go out to dinner with him more and just laugh out loud at silly things like him constantly making fun of me, walk all 5 dogs in our neighbourhood as he has requested several times (but just once), allow him to play his ridiculous music in the car, stop yelling at him to take out the garbage daily, let him take kite surfing lessons, allow him to play his music super loud in the house, stop pressuring him to eat my food, and all in all simply love him more.

A lot can happen in 2 years and I want the last years at home to have a positive impact on him where he can look back and remember those years with a smile.

written by Lisa Charles


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