My son left home last weekend.
I have a new syndrome…
Empty Nest Syndrome.
My son will be 25 in December, so it’s time.
It was part of my vision for him, as the human brain stops developing at 25, and the age of adolescence is over.
A few months ago, I encouraged him to travel to Europe with his father (my former husband) for five weeks. It was a last minute decision, but one that I knew would change him.
I believe one of our roles as mothers is to show our children possibilities; what their world could be like if we shine the torch along a new route.
I knew that he would decide to leave home while he was away.
He messaged me a few weeks into his trip, saying that he’d be moving into a place on the other side of town, with a bunch of fellow musicians.
I was thrilled and gutted to read the news.
I increased my twelve step meetings and shared my vulnerability with fellow travellers.
I cried a river in the privacy of my own home and, in my weekly private therapy sessions.
I realised that finally, my in-house mothering was over. I was now a MOO (Mother Of One) without her gorgeous, long-limbed calf.
My son is much taller than me, and supremely handsome, with big brown eyes that look right at you.
He is also the Adult Son of an Alcoholic (me, in long term recovery) but that is a syndrome in itself.
I am also an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (my late father) and my vision has been to change the family of origin blueprint and to demonstrate how to live a different way, away from this syndrome.
So yes, I have been in pain. SO much pain! The agony of not having my boy around to share a meal with.
Not hearing him singing in the shower.
Not being able to tell him something funny as it pops into my head.
Even as I write this to you, dear readers, tears fall down my cheeks.
Love is so painful.
This is like a break-up with the love of my life, but it’s not a lover, it’s my son.
I have never known love like it.
From the moment I discovered I was pregnant (after being told by doctors I would never have children) to the moment I held him in my arms after his drug-free, home water-birth, to now, this love has been all consuming for me.
Motherhood has defined me.
Motherhood has been the thing that has given me the greatest joy of my entire life.
And now, my son is on that long lonely road to becoming a man.
A dear friend once told me:
‘Mothers fall in love with their sons, not in a a creepy way, but because they create the men they wanted to marry in the first place’.
I believe this.
As mothers, we must stop DOING for our sons, and show them instead how to push forward, take risks and be brave enough to be vulnerable.
We know that many boys and men have difficulty expressing their feelings, so encouraging our boys and young men to embrace legitimate and ethical men’s work is a great start.
My son has been gone for a week. He came back on Monday to steam clean the carpets in his room and wash down the walls.
He stayed for dinner and we shared how we were both feeling: a little wobbly, but knowing it would all be OK.
He left with a care package of food and home grown veggies.
It felt odd closing the door after he said hugged me, told me he loved me, thanked me for dinner and drove home to the far side of town.
I know this is what he must do, for his own development, but why do we seem to have it so wrong in the Western world?
Why can’t we all have communal living, in separate houses, where we all get to stay a family?
This week I am feeling my feelings, full of grief, full of love and full of gratitude that I know I have done the very best I can, taking him to this crossroad.
How was it for you, when your babies left?