When our oldest son told us he was leaving for Florida the day after his 18th birthday, I was stunned. The few days I had to prepare myself were not at all enough. I soon found myself standing at the airport, watching my baby walk through the security gate alone, and disappear around the corner. My husband held my hand tight as silent tears streamed down his face, and I sobbed and prayed all the way back to the car. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. I just couldn’t fix the ache in my heart that he left me. There was no one to talk to about it, there was no one to comfort me. I felt so numb that my firstborn was just…gone. He was gone. He left me, he left his dad, he left us all. He hadn’t even packed up his entire room. He left almost everything behind. I think I went through the 12 stages of grief in the following days.
Fast forward to the present day- two kids married and out on their own. The one who left me has two children of his own. Two kids still at home driving me nuts. Plans for all their bedrooms. I have a notebook. With big plans. One day they will all be mine, and I will have a pretty house with a guest room of my dreams, an office that is functional as just an office, and enough book shelves to house all the books I have stored in every odd place I can find. And maybe even a room dedicated to baseball, if my husband wants a man cave, I can’t argue that. As I make plans for this space I keep going back to the one question from when my son broke his mothers heart and flew off to a warmer place: Why on earth didn’t anyone ever warn me about this part of my life?
I left home right after graduation, and my mother never said a word. She and dad paid for our wedding, shipped our stuff little by little, and called every day. They came to visit us once on the other side of the country, and they supported us unconditionally. When my brother got married and had a child, they did the same for him, and I cannot for the life of me remember seeing or hearing my mother hurt or upset about any of it. But she had to be! Right?! Aren’t we moms all wired the same way? Didn’t God instill in us the mother hen syndrome, the right to protect, teach and love unconditionally? I am so flabbergasted about the deafening silence I faced my peers, and mostly my older mentors, provided for me when I was going through all of this. Total deafening silence.
For a while I thought I was over reacting, like I was mentally unstable and it was a “me” problem, not a normal momma problem. I was bursting into tears when I saw his jacket. I was bursting into tears when I saw his truck in the driveway. I was freaking out into a sobbing mess when I realized I didn’t need 6 steaks, I only needed 5, because my son was in Florida somewhere without me or his dad. I actually called out his name one morning to get him out of bed before I left for an appointment. Seriously. I almost had myself convinced to get medication for my inability to control my emotion and be normal. Really.
Then, like a giant epiphany that I had been ignoring for a long time, I was sitting in my living room reading some of the blogs I regularly visit, and it struck me- no one ever warned me about any of this mess! Not any of it! The only thing I ever was warned about had to do with infancy, and we are long past those days. In fact, I would give my left arm and a days wages to go back there some days. I couldn’t believe there was not one person who ever said anything about anything that I needed to know.
I tried to rationalize all of it away.
I come from a pretty normal family, if there is such a thing. I had amazing grandparents who for the most part grandparented me. I had an upbringing with hundreds of people around me all influencing me in my thoughts, actions, and beliefs. I belonged to a decent size church, was friends with the pastors’ kids and spent time with my youth group. I watched all those kids before me grow up, graduate high school, go on to college or marriage or whatever they went on to. I never once saw one of their parents grieving their loss, their decisions, and their lives. Maybe I missed the signs, or maybe I was warned but just chose not to listen. I just do not recall anyone ever reacting like this in this situation, come to think of it; I do not recall seeing anyone ever react emotionally to any situation of change with their children, parents, family members. Not ever.
So then I ask the questions- is this hidden reaction related to the bubble we all build around ourselves so that no one else on the planet knows about our hurts, our fears or our real life issues? Is this ultimate not sharing of “stuff” part of the big picture of making sure everything looks like it’s all rosy and fun? Are we so worried about what other people think that we are willing to risk not sharing our own stories when we are hurting, when we are devastated by loss or when we are getting a tough life education of our own? When Christ was hurting at the temple, he made sure everyone knew he was angry, and why. If I am to be Christ like, should I stay quiet about things I am experiencing, all the while knowing that others behind me will experience the same craziness, and think they are losing their mind as I thought?
I think I will say no, and keep writing.
If you think this situation was heart wrenching, and dear reader it was, then wait until I tell you about all the other things no one ever thought to warn us about as young women.