Every day, we go through hundreds, thousands of small loses, I’m about ready to burst into tears so I know it’s true. It’s one of those instinctual, hit me in the gut feelings. My grown-up children left to go back to college today and even though I will see them in three weeks, it doesn’t matter. Children always leave you. People you love always leave you. Why is that not written in any manual so we can anticipate it?
From their first highly anticipated step, to their first day of nursery school
and first grade your child will always be leaving you. Yes, it is good and you have done a great job in raising them. You should be proud of their independence and pat yourself on the back. You have done a great job building their self-esteem and their confidence, but it still hurts like a knife twisting into your belly cutting bloody veins with a torture only known to parents.
We experience that hurt from the moment that they are born until the moment we die. Our children will never understand it until they, themselves have babies of their own. Don’t bother explaining it to them, my kids are used to my tears, they think I’m just the mushiest person in the world, and I am. But, in no way do they think that every time they leave I feel like I’m being stabbed or that my heart breaks a thousand different times, every time they leave, nor should they ever know.
You would think I would get used to it but it’s something I can never get used to. I remember my parents used to travel a lot when I was in high school, maybe even junior high and I would weep, standing at the kitchen table, looking down six flights as they stood waving until their taxi arrived.
I was inconsolable until they left. Then, magically, I was quite happy and calm and independent. Why the shift of pain so rapidly? I’m not really sure, I hated being left, abandoned. But, once they left, I was independent and had a great time. Freud anyone?
Once someone actually leaves, I’m fine. It’s the build up and the anticipation that always gets to me, always has. At my old age I don’t think my patterns will change but I always give it a shot. “I’m not good at good-byes” I say honestly to my children, they expect it, they know and understand. But, they will only truly understand when/if they have children of their own.
Maybe we will be lucky to be grandparents, to see our children have children. To see our grown-up kids do the precise things they chastised us for, that would be funny. Life is a circle, how we got so far in the game, I have no idea. I feel young, time escapes us, but as I watch my children grow into adults, I know too, we have aged accordingly.
I, sadly, don’t know how you feel – not having children is my chronic, rather than acute, loss so I can not begin to imagine the torture you describe. I do believe you are right, Laurie – all human life ultimately is about loss and detachment. Each of us just experiences it in different forms, times and ways.
Early in my career when I was directing a rape trauma program. I learned that anticipation, rather than the actual event, was the more terrifying and painful aspect of any experience. The survivors always described the terror of the anticipation as more horrifying than the rape itself. It took me by surprise and I’ve never forgotten that. It was a life’s lesson, a gift, that each of those women taught me.
Judith, that has always been the case for me (yes, safe and sound.) IT’s called clinically Anticipatory Anxiety. Today everything was much better. My father was very much like that as well, my mother and sister tend to like to procrastinate while I like to get things over with (dad was the same.) It’s a style thing as much as anything.If you don’t know the pain (“I sadly, don’t know how you feel-not having children is my chronic, rather than acute, loss) then you have nothing to compare it to which in a way is a good thing for self protection, I would imagine. Besides, you will always have me, Peachy Keen Junior! PS can I write Peachy Keen in my 2015 bucket list?
Oh Twin! You know exactly how I feel and I know it!!!