Monday, March 21, 2016

They Must Spread Their Wings and Fly

by Terri

Taken in August of 1999 when he was 14.

My nest has been empty for quite a while so it’s not exactly “empty nest syndrome”. But two of my three sons have lived here in town and then last November my oldest who had been living in Dallas for a few years decided to move home so I had all my chicks in the same city once again. All was right with the world.

Then recently my youngest son and his fiancé decided to move to Virginia. They had met in law school at UVA and she had never lived outside of Virginia. But after finishing her yearlong clerkship for a judge in Virginia, she moved to Arizona to be with him. Wonderful! I had a new almost-daughter-in-law that I was growing to love more every day. Two-and-a-half years later she was offered her dream job with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office in Richmond, VA. She wants to be a judge and this is the perfect stepping stone. But accepting it meant him finding a job there as well.  Before she accepted, he interviewed with a large law firm in Richmond and took the job.  She has already gone east, as her job was starting, and he is still here winding up his job, the renting of their house and the details of his move.  He will be leaving on Easter Sunday, just six days from when you are reading this.

Taken in October of 2008.

It was hard when he left home to go to college and harder still when he went clear across the country for law school, but those things were temporary. I don’t think this is.  They are both excited for the adventure.  And I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to cope with them going. I know people’s kids move away all the time and life goes on.  I’m sure it does. But I know it is going to be HARD.

So I decided to do some research on how other people handle this situation. Some suggestions I’ve read for coping are to:

1    1.   Keep busy for the first few months (maybe it’s time to start Phase 2 of our home  remodeling?).  Just sitting around in an empty house is depressing and delays the healing process.
2    2.   Join a support group or start a journal. List all the positive and benefits of the new situation (are there really any positives?)
3    3.     Talk out your feelings to friends (that’s what I’m doing with all of you here).
4    4.     Make plans to visit. (I’ve already scoped out the plane fares and hotels.)

Taken in August, 2010

There are two reasons that I’m writing this today. The first is that there is nothing else that can fit into my brain right now. This is taking up every square inch. The second is that, for me, writing and talking always brings me clarity.  I’m hoping it will also lessen the feeling in the pit of my stomach. But I know it is just going to take time. Lots and lots of time. 

We had a family going away party at our house last night and, of course, I wanted one more photo of the two of us together before he leaves. 

And thank you all for letting me pour out my heart to you here. It is so wonderful to have a safe place where we can share our thoughts and feelings. Feel free to tell me if you've experienced something similar and reassure me that I will survive!


AFishGirl said...

Ohhh, dear Terri, yes, you will survive, I promise. Which is not to say there won't be a transitional time. Yes. I also am a big believer in talking and writing and expressing how you feel and allowing yourself to feel how you feel (versus trying to talk yourself out of feeling a certain way, of judging feelings as "right" or "wrong). We feel what we feel. And it shifts and morphs and changes and the big journey keeps continuing. I'll be thinking of you. I haven't had this particular experiences but I've had a lot of curve balls and, well... on it all goes. Big hug to you today and in the coming days.

Cathy H. said...

Letting our children go is so very hard. I cried buckets when my daughter and her family moved away and she only moved three hours away. I know times will be tough, just remember we're all here to support you. Reach out when you need us and keep writing and talking. I know your photography will be a great help, too. It's easy to get lost behind the lens and for a little while forget real life. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Dotti said...

Ahhh, we mothers! We want our baby chicks to spread their wings but letting them fly - that's the hard part. And yet in nature, mothers of every species do this, all the while pushing their young to leave the nest. We want them to pursue their dreams but we hope that those dreams will keep them grounded near us. I can feel your heart breaking, Terri, yet at the same time I know you're proud of your 'boy'. He's leaving his home and family to follow the woman he loves and support her in her dreams. That is commendable. When we talked of this last week and you told me this was all you could think of, I reminded you of our unofficial creed here at FOL: write from the heart. You have done that and the result is not only a beautiful post but a whole community of loving, caring people who will be here for you. xo

kelly said...

oh dear Terri....I know how much you love your chicks and how much you enjoy having them close by. You talk and share and write all you need to help you in this transition. Sending big giant virtual, smoochy hugs friend. xoxo

kybarb said...

On the positive side you will have a great new place to visit and take more photos! Take care.

Lisa Gordon said...

I am wiping the tears as I read this.

I went through something very similar right after the Christmas holiday.
You see, up until this past year, my son was in college in Boston. Only about 300 miles away, but might just as well have been the other side of the world to me. It felt like my heart was literally being ripped out of my chest. But I adjusted and I thought, "Ok, this is fine, he'll still be home quite a bit."

He graduated last year, and went right to work and grad school (still in Boston), but gone were those summer vacations, month-long Christmas breaks, and 1-2 week breaks in between. This was the "real" thing. The new "normal."

I do so understand what you are going through and how this feels. I am still adjusting to the new normal, and I'm not sure that I will ever completely adjust, but I sure am trying because I know that to do so is as good for him, as it is for me.

My heart goes out to you. Hang in there.

Deanna said...

Oh dear, I do remember when my son moved clear across the country to Lake Tahoe and I cried every day for at least 2 weeks. It is so terribly hard to let our chicks move so far away, we Mother Hens want our chicks where we can hold them, love them, make sure all is right in their world. You are a strong lady, you will adjust to the new normal, not easy, but you will. Big hugs from one Mother Hen to another.

pjs said...

Reading this brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart! I am a fairly recent empty nester with my youngest of four having left for school this past September. Letting go is the hardest thing I have ever had to do... and he still comes home for the holidays. I can't imagine any of them moving to another state. Hang in there... I think you are on the right track... it just takes time. Your photos are priceless... what a great time line. I do agree with kybarb... you've got a wonderful new place to visit :-)

Katie said...

I'm about to go through the same thing. Our daughter is looking for a job in Washington, DC and I think I've been in denial ever since she finished college that this day would ever happen. Every time I think of telling her good bye and seeing her drive away, my stomach sinks to my feet. We've never been that far away from each other, even when she was in college. I can't picture life with her being half a continent away.

I feel for you, Terri. Hopefully you can find a good project that you can throw yourself into and get your mind off the missing piece of your life.

Anonymous said...

Terri, this brings tears to my eyes also! From all the other comments, you can see that you are not alone. We all want our kiddos to be as close as possible, its just that mothering instinct to want to protect them. Sometimes in life there are things that are going to leave a little void in your heart, (only temporary) and I know that you are feeling that sting of separation from your son. Just keep telling yourself, he's ok, Im ok, no one is seriously ill and you can still go visit him and vise versa. He will always be your baby, and believe it or not, this is probably just as hard for him, although a lot of men don't tend to show their sadness. Just remember...nothing ever stays the same forever except your love for each other, trust in the Lord and pray for peace, as I will pray for you also. Hugs and Prayers!

Debbie Malone said...

Terri, my heart aches as I read this. I know this is very hard. Your words and pictures describe a very special bond between a mother and son. Even though he is moving across the country, I don't think he will be far away. I will be praying for you my friend.

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