My son FINALLY got a job! He is moving out of the house! He is moving 600 miles away!
That is something to be celebrated, right? Right, of course it is, then why am I feeling so unmoored?
My feelings seem to vacillate between pure joy and abject terror, with a touch of nausea and sleeplessness thrown in. I knew my job as a mother going into this. All of the cliches: Give them wings, they are only ours temporarily, etc. Ad nauseam.
I never wanted children. My childhood was often miserable. I grew up petrified of my father and his temper. There was a lot of emotional abuse, and intermittent physical abuse. My father believed in tough love, and my mother enabled him to steamroll us with his angry words, his belt and sometimes his fist. It was often a house of cards, we never knew what was going to set him off. Was it our behavior, or the booze fueled memories of past infractions?
I knew I could never be the disciplinarian I needed to be to raise respectful, decent children, so I decided not to have any. That, and I didn’t really like kids all that much. Then I made a deal. I got engaged with the caveat that I would have a child. At age 28 that seemed reasonable. I could get married, put off getting pregnant for a few years, or maybe, if I got really lucky, it wouldn’t happen at all. It happened, on the honeymoon.
One of the most amazing things occurred, I made a human. A beautiful, headstrong, gifted, brilliant, angry boy. The connection was instantaneous,and he was MINE, all mine.
My son never had a great relationship with his father. It would take Freud, Jung and a 5,000 word blog to explain the psychology behind it, if it could be explained at all. His father never seemed to like him, and it got worse as he got older. It then became physically abusive,and it was time for he and I to go.
I ended up divorced, and in a prolonged custody battle. I eventually ended up with custody, and court approval to move. I needed to get my son away from his abusive father before further damage could be done. So we moved, a thousand miles away, and our bond got tighter.
He excelled in high school, graduated in the top of his class, received numerous scholarships for college. He chose the university 40 minutes away. We continued to see each other weekly, for lunch. He came home infrequently on weekends, but was home for every break. The only time he was gone was each summer to visit his father, per court order. I dreaded these breaks, they were filled with tearful calls from my son, and angry, profanity filled calls from my ex. The gap between them grew larger, and the bond between my son and I got tighter.
The divorce, the custody battle, and the estrangement with his father has been difficult on him. We have spent countless hours discussing it. The only advice I could ever offer was to somehow find a way to put the relationship in a place where it could not continue to hurt him. It took until this past year for him to finally figure out where that place is. With that knowledge, and acceptance that he really only has one person who will always be there for him, not matter what, we grew closer still.
He is the thing that I am most proud of in my life. He owns my heart, always has, and always will.
Now he is moving. Opening those wings and taking flight. I am happy for him, it is time for his life to begin, time for him to be on his own, move into adulthood.
As I prepare for him to move, a wave will come over me, it feels like someone has punched me in the stomach. This is it, he is no longer MINE, not in the way he has been for all these years. The time has come, I have to open my arms and let him go.
As with all things in my life, change is difficult for me. In time I will adjust, it is part of the journey, and the only way out is through.
Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it’s a long way to go,
But in the meantime,
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans
Beautiful Boy-John Lennon