August 9th, 2007 was a very difficult day for me. In fact, in the weeks leading up to that day I found myself in tears often. It was the day my son stepped out of our nest, spread his wings and flew away. He headed off to attend a university in Florida 2900 or so miles away. It was bittersweet really. On the one hand I was proud and happy to see him take the next big step in his life and on the other hand I was tremendously sad that he was leaving. Other parents I knew also had kids going off to a different town/city to go to a college or straight into a new job. My son just happened to be going really really far. I felt panic at the thought of not being able to jump in the car and go rescue him (or at least comfort him) if he needed it. He was not only on the opposite coast but in a different country.
I felt broadsided by the sadness. I had the feeling of having forgotten something wherever I went. What shocked me the most was that I had been a full time mom for 18 years and suddenly felt like I had just been handed my pink slip. Thank you very much but you’re not needed any longer. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Logically I knew that I was still his mom but it felt, at the time, like my purpose had been snatched from me. This took some getting used to.
1 year, 6 months, and 22 days later I’m pretty much over the sadness…mostly. It is true that you start to enjoy the freedom that you forgot was yours before you had children. You also come to realize that they may be miles and miles away but they do still need you. You are still a very important person in their lives.
I’m sharing this for three reasons. One, I hope to remind moms and dads out there with young children to live in and cherish the moments you share with your children. I know it’s a cliche but time really does fly by. The second reason is to offer a bit of a “heads up” to those of you who will be going through this eventually. I’d never been told how difficult it can be and I wish someone could have warned me. The third reason is just to let anyone else out there experiencing a newly empty nest that it’s ok, and yes it will get easier. You are still on the job, the hours may be a little different and the perks have changed, but you are still vitally important and needed.