I am confused. And emotional. And flustered all in one. I want to articulate so much about how I feel, about what’s in my heart and yet seem to stumble through it. My eldest is going away to college this week, – the college of his dreams – and I am feeling everything from gratefulness to desperation. I remember when I was pregnant with him and the idea of having this son took form and began to shape my thoughts as a woman slowly transitioning into a mother. It wasn’t obvious for me; I was the first in my friend group to get pregnant after being told getting pregnant was going to be impossible for me. Needless to say it wasn’t, but I equally hadn’t given much thought to having babies either. Over 18 years later the first cycle of life concludes for my eldest which in turn means I have to gracefully exit this chapter as well. And it’s hard; and I don’t want to necessarily, but it’s not up to me anymore.
I made a lot of my mistakes as a mom with my eldest; I’m sure we all do. I was the most paranoid, the most nervous and unsure, and the most confused. But I was there for nearly all of it, always. Between life in London and LA we traveled as a team, and as each son came along for the ride, my eldest naturally took on the role of co-pilot. I think I have relied on his strength of character his entire life and I will be eternally grateful to him for that.
I suppose that’s what’s difficult; not sad, but challenging. I am two people at the minute. One knows I couldn’t pick a better program or greater city for him to begin his next journey; New York, NYU Clive Davis Institute, the whole enchilada. He’s been wanting to bite out of that Big Apple ever since he laid eyes on it a few years ago and it’s so damn exciting. His music comes from the depths of who he is and I see, and hear, the complete beauty in that. The other me, though, is devastated for the change his absence will carry in our house and for the understanding of the term empty nest. It’s one of those phrases that I’ve looked at without emotion, until now, even though I have three more to go. Of course it’s not over, he’s not out of our lives, gone forever. But there is a turning of the page and while the excitement is tangible for him now, the deep ache of wanting Time to move a bit slower; of the reconciliation that this stage of my life of motherhood with him is over; that letting him fly means prominently stepping aside and not spotting him every time he climbs, just in case he falls…is all so much to take in.
As much as his leaving is about him, it’s also largely about me. Having been a full time mom all these years, I have honestly put most of my time into raising my kids so marking their departure is real for me, in real terms. Who am I? What am I going to do when they’re gone? These are questions I have battled with before but always had my boys right there, front and center, unabashedly demanding attention and invariably there to fill me up again. Perhaps part of the emotion I’m feeling is about the spotlight I’ve been able to avoid (or haven’t had the space to indulge in) to see who I am after all these years of motherhood?
I have lost a father before; I know what loss looks like, and feels like. So I also know not to dramatize loss if I don’t have to. But the words that keep coming up for me are how much I’m going to miss him, which feels a heck of a lot like loss. His life, as we all have known it, will forever change with the flight to NYC. Where will ‘home’ be? Will coming back here feel like a visit? It will never be the same again for all the right reasons and for that I am overwhelmed with emotion and not quite sure yet how to deal.
My sis in-law says I’ll just get used to it; like any change in the household, once a few weeks pass you sort of just get used to it. That thought also depresses me a bit right now as I don’t want to get used to him not being an everyday inspiration and pain in the ass to all of us! Sadness, however, isn’t on the cards for one simple reason: at 18 he was clearly ready for stage 2 to begin, clearly ready. Having an 18 year old live in your house can feel like trapping an outdoor cat and making him live indoors. There’s a lot of scratching that goes on…and if you’re completely honest, it hurts more to get scratched than to chuck a few chicken chunks outside and let them wander a bit.
I’ve long since known that children teach you as much as we teach them. For me, my boys have shown me how strong I can be, along with patient, moral, capable, loving, the list goes on. They have brought out the very best in me for sure. So when I see passion and the wonderment of having a dream and the leap of faith needed to take the steps towards it, I suppose it’s a powerful reminder that passion prevails and happiness truly comes from doing something in life that makes you happy…simple lesson. I’m going to hold onto that for now, while I try to gently let go.