I am facing an empty nest.
My child is 9.
I have a continuing sense of impending anguish. Meaning I feel fine, but the over tones of my daily life are tinged with the sense that I will no longer have my dear, beloved son to be visually present to me.
The reactions from other mothers are interesting;
“Are you getting a divorce?” NO
“Why?” Because it is a very special opportunity and I can’t pass it up for a number of reasons.
“I think you are stupid” – OK, I suppose you are entitled
“I couldn’t do it!” – You might be surprised by the willingness to give your children special opportunities.
The truth is that I am going to desperately miss him, He and I do almost everything together… he comes to my meetings, and I go to his. We have our daily rituals down pat. I bask in his gentle spirit, I am delighted by him as he wanders curiously through life. I am going to miss him. I am going to miss his making silly faces and constant moving as I try to take a picture. I will miss his interesting takes on the world, his fearlessness, his graciousness.
As I go through these last few weeks with him, before he moves across the ocean for a very special adventure, there is an intensity to my time with him. And an intensity to my time without him. I seem to be attuned to the shift that is coming and my brain and my body are trying to find a way to live without his physical presence. Yes, I will be grateful for the pieces of modern technology that allow for things like Skype and Face-time but nothing can make up for the smells and small moments that will be denied to me for the next few months.
He will be living with his grandparent in a small town in Austria. He will be going to a small school where he will share a class with about 5 or six other kids. His teachers speak English as does my mother in law. He will get to play in the country and will have many memories that will last his life. He will get close to his family overseas, meet his cousins and uncles and aunts and all sorts of extended kin.
I am also very excited for him. He ask eager questions about the experience and has developed the idea that he will be perfectly happy if he can stay for longer. While I may personally wish he doesn’t, I am glad he is that excited about the trip.
But, oh my heart. How will I fill the void that his absence in my daily life will create?
I suppose that I will look to this as my own great adventure, watching my child go through an experience like this, be there for him in the good times and the bad.. I think I am busy enough as it is that I won’t find idle time, but I wonder…
If you are reading this… there are some things I want for you to know;
Mama loves you! That is the most important.
It is also my sincerest hope that you have one of the most life changing experiences of your life thus far. That you connect with your grandparents and all of our family overseas. That you come away with an appreciation of things both wonderful and scary and learn how to manage both. I can’t tell you how I wish I could manage to go with you. To watch you acculturate in person, to hold your hand when it gets frustrating and to clap when life is a delight.
It is my hope that this experience doesn’t scar you and cause you pain, that mean people make what should be wonderful, hard and difficult (that was how coming to the USA was for me). Know that my tiger mama traits will still be in full force and should I think it warranted I would come and get you in a moment. However, it is my expectation that this will be a wonderful experience for you. That you will become close to your Austrian family, that you will make friends you can keep for ages, that you will learn German and use it constantly, that you will keep your Spanish, that you find Hungary as amazing as I do. That you will come to understand just how different and yet similar this world is. That you will come to understand just how lucky this opportunity makes you!
I love you, really, really, really, a lot!