Some twenty plus years ago when I was handed my first born I recall thinking how grateful I was to be custodian of this precious life and that my future was changed forever. I blissfully settled into parenthood gratefully navigating the milestones and phases that childhood and adolescence presents. My complacency was shattered when my ‘baby’ announced she thought it was time to move out. I fought to keep a cool façade as my heart was wrenched from my chest and the bellowing in my mind resounded noooo! That was a couple of years ago and thankfully that first move was only to the self-contained unit adjacent to our home. The adjustment was gradual, I didn’t see her everyday anymore but she was close by and we could catch up easily when it suited. I was extremely lucky to have the opportunity of this ‘dress rehearsal’ as preparation. Last month I experienced the ‘main event’ with my daughter now in her early twenties moving out of the family home and into a place of her own (fortunately within the same city). Given the grace period I was afforded to get used to the idea it is still a struggle of loss none the less. The atmosphere is different, the absence of her presence and her physical things can be felt. Our family cat is often found meowing outside her door confused with not being allowed priority entry as usual. The reality of another major life phase has arrived and I have used it for further self-reflection. For the first time I am contemplating my high probability of becoming a mother-in- law or perhaps being blessed as a grand-parent at some later time.
My reactions have been tested with friends who have shared their similar stories of conflicting emotions experienced with their offspring leaving home, some moving to different cities or even other countries. The see-saw swaying, at the incline pride in parenting a responsible human being ready to leave the nest, conversely on the decline the reality of the changed dynamic in the family home. I am reassured that our children will always need us no matter what age and even in the situation where a young adult leaves home, returns, then leaves again there is a repeat of the emotional waves.
For me I figure the universal flippant comment referencing that utopian day of freedom when the kids leave home may only apply to those much, much older, if even at all? On the bright side I am proud to have raised such a strong, independent, resilient, confident woman to make her way and contribute positively to our world. Our collective commitment to a tradition of family dinner every Sunday evening has become a new highlight of my week!
Author Bio: Sharon McAvoy
The lead up to turning 50 impacted Sharon McAvoy more than she anticipated. Entering this ‘afternoon’ life stage has led to reflections and plans for navigating the ‘evening’ life-stage. In her articles Sharon explores and shares her unique perspectives and plans to take on ageing.