Fall is fast approaching. Fall is a season when many parents say good-bye to their college age children. Last year, my Country Boy and I said good-bye to our second son as he moved out for college. I knew it was coming, but man oh man it didn’t make it any easier. Here are a few things I learned in the process of coping when kids leave home. I hope that you are comforted by the realization that you are not alone as a parent, as you go through this stage. Whether your child is leaving to join the military, moving to start life on their own or to college, it is a new season.
Coping when Kids Leave Home Part I
Cry Now and Later
As I didn’t want to be bawling on the college campus when we dropped off our son, I decided to allow myself to cry before he even left. Daughters might be OK with mom crying some tears. However, most kid don’t want to see their parents crumple into a weeping mess. So, I tried to mentally prepare myself by allowing myself to cry and be sad anytime I needed to before the big day arrived.
It felt good to have some cleansing cries, acknowledging that he was leaving. This really did help me to get through college orientation weekend without latching on to my son’s legs begging him to stay!
So crying before and acknowledging that a season in my life was closing was helpful but is was just the beginning. Ugh, those were some tough mornings the weeks following my son leaving for college. I would wake up and a wave of sadness flowed over me. I would look around on the internet to try to find how other parents had coped. Sadly, I didn’t find much. What I did find felt a little frightening. I didn’t want to fall into some huge depression or believe that my life was over. So I tried to balance having some good cries, talking about it with some close family and friends and trying to move forward.
Recognize a New Season
I had several friends mention that my son was not moving far away, and that I could go see him whenever I wanted. Yes and No. This felt like it would be a trap to try to hold onto this idea. Yes, he wasn’t moving states away, but I knew what was happening.
One season in my life with this child was ending and another one was beginning.
To try to hold onto the season that was ending would only bring heartache in another way.
For me, it felt best to acknowledge what was happening. A season was ENDING! Yuck! I hated that the season where I was one of his main mentors and he slept at home in his bed every night was ending. Why did childhood season have to end in order to start this new season, called adult life?
It was hard to not see and talk with him everyday. However, it was even harder to look at the change that was occurring. But I wanted to give him and myself some closure. We had had a challenging but wonderful time while he was home. We made it! We survived the toddler years, the middle school days and most of the teen years. I wanted to say good bye to that season more than I wanted to pretend and miss saying good bye.
Move Forward Slowly
So I totally FAILED at this one. I think I looked more like a chicken running around after a bug. I was all over the place. I looked at options to work more hours outside the home. At the same time, I decided to teach 2 classes in our homeschool co-op. I also become the coordinator between our church and the homeschool co-op. This all seemed rational to me in the moment. I mean, after all I was going to have more free time with both boys gone. I just needed to move on the next stage, right? Not exactly.
While things did change at home and there were a few extra hours, life still went on. I needed to take care of my family still at home. The house still had to be cleaned along with all the other daily necessities. My daughter still required my attention.
During this adjustment period give yourself time to gradually process what may need to alter .
And then decide how to move forward. If you still have children at home, then you may only make subtle changes. If you are empty nesters , you may be ready to take on the next big challenge. But give it some time before you decide. You have suffered a loss. So allow yourself the space to grieve.
And don’t forget to take a minute to feel proud of raising your child. Parenting is not a job for wimps, right? You did what you set out to accomplish! And reaching this point is a huge blessing!
There is more I would love to share so check back later in the week for Coping When Kids Leave Home Part II.
Are you approaching this stage or have gone through this? Feel free to share some of your thoughts below in the comments. I know I and others would feel comforted hearing from you.