It starts quite devastatingly enough. Son moves overseas for a long, long time. He’s on his way to Yale, although my mother still thinks he’s going to jail. Anyway, the relationship as I’ve known it, is over. We’re now, ‘just friends’.
I had accepted that I would no longer do the school run. I was secretly relieved that I didn’t have to sit in freezing conditions at the ice rink watching him train for ice hockey or pace the swimming pool while he did lap after lap a zillion times a week. (I once proudly bragged that I suffered repetitive strain injury). When he left high school and started university I quickly realised that he could successfully catch public transport without me getting THAT call.
When he moved out of home because, apparently, young people need to experience life, do their own thing, I was more than just offended. Imagine the horror. And don’t get me started on the clean house. I hated it. For a while there, I started throwing my clothes around the place, deliberately leaving half-filled coffee cups on every table and bench and placing all the used plates a good three hour jog away from the sink just to feel like he was still here, still home. But after days of filling the bath with tears, the reality of the mess and the state of my constant red eyes, niggled at me.
Even better, opportunity arose. That empty built-in robe in his old room was suddenly a second home for the stuff in the over-crowded one in my bedroom. Did I mention I’m a collector, of dresses?
I actually started to enjoy the weekly dinners or lunches he organised. We’d catch up and go for a skate, sometimes a surf. We discussed things. I didn’t nag. You have no idea how fabulous it is to lose that rather, um, annoying personality trait.
Yet it’s one thing for them to grow up and move out of home. To move to the other side of the world is another matter. I’m in mourning all over again.
When he told me he was applying to the US to study, I was pleased and I hoped he would do well while the entire time my heart was punching my throat and I had to remind myself to breathe.
The thoughts that followed over the next few months were almost evil. On acceptance, I was the most painful soccer mum that ever existed. I bragged to anybody who would listen while going home to share the night with a box of tissues.
Despite being the proudest parent on earth next to Kate Middleton’s, I wanted those apron strings extended. As the time for him to leave grew near, I was almost institutionalised. I couldn’t stop crying and my habit blew out to several boxes of tissues a day. I kept seeing him walking down the street, even though, on proper viewing, it was actually just my 85-year-old neighbor. Sorry, son, I know you don’t look that old or dress that badly but the mind has its way.
He keeps pestering me though. “Mum, help, I lost my cash, my travel money card is missing, my phone doesn’t work and my immunisation records have absconded.” I’m now hiding in a cupboard, my phone firmly planted somewhere at the bottom of the garden and the computer, er we won’t go there but the last time I had a cup of coffee it cost me $980. Anyway, suffice to say, I’ve had to avoid communication for several days just to protect my own sanity.
Here’s the thing, I wouldn’t change it for all the dresses and clean houses in the world (okay, I’m lying about the dresses). The grieving makes you appreciate how good the relationship with your children actually is. You can see how successful you have been as a parent. Sure, people will query your constant red cheeks and you’ll be denying you’re an alcoholic, but hey, that’s when the fun begins.