Each year as summer vacation comes to an end, I suffer from separation anxiety. I woke up this morning to an empty household. My husband left for work and the kids were off at school. I wanted to jump back into bed and throw the covers over my face. I felt so alone. The house screamed with silence. It was just me and my thoughts. Never a good combination.
As the blood began to circulate back into my muscles, I realized that this year my anxiety must be tied to Kyle leaving home for good. The end of summer has always represented the end of relaxed family time. This joyous time of no routines, no bedtimes, no schedules, and endless long wonderful, blissful days has ended. And with it, I come face to face with the realization that time marches on.
But this year, it is so much more poignant. I am fully aware that Kyle will be leaving home for good way too soon. And just like the end of summer vacation, I hate it!
But, I can’t stop time nor do I want to. My dear friend’s voice pops into by head, “Stay in the moment.” Her strong and calming voice rings in my ears. She is at peace even though her eldest son just left home for college. She is truly and solely celebrating his independence. She is unequivocally happy for him. This has gotten me thinking. I am projecting how I am going to feel when Kyle leaves as a way to protect myself from feeling the pain I think I am going to feel. I am spending my time worrying about my feelings of loss when I haven’t lost anything. What if I just enjoy today and then when Kyle leaves for college deal with those feelings then? Does that leave me too vulnerable?
Why not be vulnerable? So here goes. As I approached college age my father was sick. He died when I was a freshman in college. I lived at home because I was intuitively aware that time was precious. I never separated in the normal go to college and leave home sense. My separation was so much more permanent. My family clung tightly to each other forever after that. And then my sister got sick. I lost my best friend the day she died. Soon after, my perfect mother got Alzheimer’s and I started taking care of her. Soon she would be lost to me too. The family that I had treasured was all gone. All I had left were the glorious memories of my childhood and an unabated feeling that wherever I was they were with me.
But I was blessed. I had already started my own family. And together with my loving husband, we raised our children with the same close attachments, the same delirious feelings of “us against the world, “ the same values and moral compass that my family had passed to me and his to him. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I had lost my family but I got another one. I have been a part of two of the most loving, inspirational families I could ever imagine. But it comes with a price. The price is the fear of separation.
Two things flash into my mind. One is that separation does not always mean loss. The other is the ever-present fear that real loss could be around the corner. I recognize that what I have to do is know that I have the strength inside of me to survive. That’s the tricky part.
Is recognizing the problem helpful? I don’t know. But at this minute I am actually looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead for both my boys. May they just stay healthy and strong? I can almost imagine myself planning my first adventure with Tom when both boys are out of the house. I have never been able to even dare imagine this before. Lookout Tom, we might end up living in Aix en Provence.
So, here it is. On the first few days of the rest of my life I stand naked before you, and although it is not a pretty sight it is honest. As I move forward I hope to bring you more humor and less tears in my quest for the rest of my life. Laughter has seen me through many a trying time. I like to think that the day my sons leave for college I will have some witty and inappropriate things to say to them. I hope I won’t try to tell them how much I love them, how much I’ll miss them, how much I’ll worry about them. I’m sure they will already know all that.
Open House Countdown
7 months ago