Loosening the Apron Strings
You know the newly “empty nester” moms who have a mini-breakdown and are licensed to indulge in a mid-life crisis and do something drastic like dye their hair red or book a Caribbean cruise?
Yeah, I feel like I got jipped!
Most freshmen college kids leave home for approximately 3 months when they set off for the initial fall semester at college and return for Thanksgiving. Those moms get to tuck their kids tearfully into their dorm and attend parent orientation. Those moms have girlfriends who bring over a bottle of wine and commiserate about the bittersweetness of launching ones fledgeling. Those moms are entitled to weepy spells in the middle of the checkout line at the grocery. There is sympathy and support….and Xanax!
Long before I thought I was “ready”, my man-child left home for 4 months!! abroad. I didn’t get to set up his new dorm because he was 10,000 miles away. I couldn’t call and bug him every day because there was a 12 hour time difference between us. I was deprived the months of dread and anticipation and weeping and wailing because because one day he was here and the next day he just….wasn’t.
You see, it wasn’t exactly planned.
The plan was for him to go to the US this summer for 2 months and work and that already was gonna be a stretch for his momma!!
But when my sweet mother came to visit after Eden’s birth and pulled the “how bout I just take him home a month early with me? What difference does a couple weeks make? ” card….how could I resist? What a wonderful opportunity to visit Georgia cousins and grandparents!
Then his return was delayed an additional month when Chad’s parents decided to take him on a European/Asian tour! How incredibly amazing!!
So there I found myself saying goodbye to my boy for the longest he’d ever been out of my sight. And he wasn’t within a weekend drives distance – he was on the other side of the world!! A mother’s heart reflects at moments like that realizing that something was bound to change and he would return different. The loosening of the apron strings..…its necessary….beneficial for both of us….healthy…..as it should be. But it doesn’t feel good! I read somewhere that it gets easier if you practice letting go when your kids are young. I certainly hope there is going to be payoff because Im feeling like my fragile momma heart may not be able to do this 7 times!! Growing pains hurt!
The summer was rich for our Tristan in both relationship and opportunity. He learned to mow lawns, skim pools and build houses. He partook of favorite American fast-food with uncles and developed some golf skills. He indulged his favorite past-times, fishing and rifle shooting with his 96 year old great-grandpa. He even got to celebrate his birthday at the beach (and learn a valuable lesson about the importance of emptying pockets of phones before going swimming!) Tristan went camping with California cousins and spent time on his beloved lake in SC with his best friend. And his old dog Lady who is on her last leg, spent one more boyhood summer by his side. From there, the adventure continued with a trip to England and China.
He did return changed. A little taller. A little older. A little more independent.
Needing me a little less.
We all remember returning home from college the first time after we’ve been on our own…..things are just different! He’s not a kid anymore and we’re walking that delicate line of parenting with a different approach as we relate to him as a young adult. We’re entering a new chapter with teen children who need a different kind of parenting. Im trying to embrace this new season of toddlers and teens at the same time. Some things were easier when they were all little….tho certainly, some were way harder!!
But with all that is changing and growing and evolving, one thing is certain – this big brother to our motley crew was tremendously missed and our home and hearts are happily filled once more with the banter of big brother and the balance he brings! And these sisters know exactly how lucky they are to have such a great big brother….its a sweet guy that will take his hard earned summer money and buy pearls for his sisters in China!!
Your family is absolutely lovely and may God bless you Always. I am aware this question may sound intruding and out of place, but why is it that you only ever send your son back to the US or on adventures? What about his twin sister or the second-oldest girl? Don’t they have a right to those kind of self-discovering experiences as well?
Thanks so much for your comment Al. Unfortunately I don’t get everything posted that I intend to. His twin sister just returned from spending a month in Hawaii – such a special adventure for her! And the second-oldest girl got to go to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand this summer and ride elephants. Definitely always aware and trying to meet the needs of these precious individuals to the best of our ability and by the grace of God!