The Mourning After

          Parenting is like a box of chocolate. However, it is frowned upon it you take a bite or poke the bottom and throw it back in the box. Wow, that sounded bad. Let’s try this: Parenting is like a fishing trip. Sometimes you have good days and some days they’re too small and you throw them back in the water. Nope! One more try: Parenting is like cracker jacks. All sweet and salty and you get a prize in every box. Unfortunately, it’s probably an ugly tattoo. Ah hell, forget it. Just read the post.

          Lee says: I am trying really hard to keep a stiff upper lip. I am trying to hold it together and not show how I feel. I realize it isn’t appropriate for a hippie therapist to suppress emotions but in this case, I think I may be saving a little of what is left of my ego. You see, I have one year before my daughter leaves for college and unlike other milestones, the deadline for this one is looming over me like a death knell.

          I am a Mommy/therapist. I acknowledge the importance of my role and I especially take note of how my job as parent affects me. Inasmuch, I grieve the everyday kid things. I mourned my last pregnancy. I mourned when my youngest stopped breast feeding. I mourned when he started to walk. I mourned when my middle child lost his first tooth. And I am mourning that my eldest is going to college in a year.

          Geesh, that sounds like a lot of mourning and I should probably be breaking down once a day because the youngest learned to lift up the seat or the middle child can finally fold a towel but it isn’t as easy or weepy as that. I am acknowledging the shift, the change and the development. This is how I prepare myself for the inevitable day that they will be out of the house and gone. It is already starting next year. Albeit my kids are spread out in age, I will still see the day when they are out of the house (and I will be receiving Social Security- I kid).

          Our daughter is picking out colleges and polishing up her educational resume. Will I cry when we drop her off at her dorm? Damn right I will. Will I cry when we go buy the sheets for her bed? Probably but I will try not to upset the Bed Bath and Beyond employees. Many parents do not understand how it is that when their kids leave the nest, they feel empty and may even feel useless. Much of the empty nest feeling is this concept of mourning.

          When we are parent, if we deny the grief, we tether every memory in our psyche. It’s like believing they will always be there. Sure, we know logically that someday our kids will be off to college, get married and have a family of their own. However, most psychological issues have no basis in what is logical. Most of our hang ups are silly or faulty thinking. So when the day inevitably comes you feel sucker punched. The kid is not to blame. This is the relationship you set up for them.

          So every little step they take, mourn it. Feel them growing up. Acknowledge it. This is how you will guarantee having a different relationship with them as they mature. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll call you at least once a week.

          Paul says: I tried to ignore every milestone, breakthrough and stage and, I will tell you, it didn’t work so well for me. It’s not like the stuff doesn’t still happen. I’m going to look pretty silly talking to my daughter’s empty room. And do not get me started on the craziness of trying to change my boys’ diapers when they go to college.

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