Recently, I wrote about Anna leaving for college and talked about how it was difficult, but that it was also good.
That wasn’t just for keeping face.
Since she’s been gone, I have been good.
Really good, in fact.
So good that at times it kind of scares me.
Like, is this it or are there more emotions on the horizon?
I do think therapy is the “drug” that is getting me through this change.
Because I am still not evolved enough to believe this is all ME.
I said to my therapist two weeks ago that I feel like I am on medication (I am not medicated) because old me would never react this way.
She said I was, I was on therapy.
It turns out that I am an anticipatory anxious person in addition to just being anxious in general.
I am more upset with events happening than the actual events themselves.
For example, the week of Anna’s departure for college, I was a hot pile of steaming doggy poop.
Crying while cooking ground beef for dinner.
Crying while grocery shopping in the frozen foods section.
Crying in my car when a Shania Twain song came on the radio that Anna loved when she was two.
I didn’t know how I was going to get through this, quite honestly. It felt like I was dying, and I swear I am not being dramatic.
I was having physical side effects in addition to just the general sadness I was feeling. There were days when my chest felt tight, I was nauseous, my hands were sweaty. Normal people would be all OMG AM I HAVING A HEART ATTACK? but I was OMG AM I HAVING A PANIC ATTACK?
I did feel like I should keep most of that to myself because who wants to see their mom spontaneously combusting over their leaving?
Oh sure, tears would squeak out here and there, and on the night before Anna left we did sit in my bed and have a massive cry together.
I feel like there is this pressure to be “good” all the time for our children but they need to see this stuff too.
Life isn’t always happy, and that is okay.
I took an anti-anxiety pill the night before we left to take Anna to college. I knew I wouldn’t be much good to anyone if I didn’t get enough sleep on such an emotionally filled day. I also recognized that her move-in day was not about me and my feelings, but rather about her and her feelings.
In an odd turn of events, Anna became worried about an hour and a half into the drive, and she made a remark about how maybe this wasn’t the right thing. I realized how much I’d changed as I was convincing her that it was the right thing to do. Old me would have asked, “Do you want us to turn the car around?” or “You can always go to community college!”
Every fiber of my being desired for her to remain at home with us. You have no idea how badly I wanted to take the steering wheel in my hands and drive to the first exit to take our girl home right there and then. Or maybe you do have an idea.
But this new-to-me me was actually persuading her to leave. It’s as if I didn’t know who I was. Again, it could have been the anti-anxiety medication’s side effects, but I want to believe it was more me than the little white pill.
We moved her in, took her to lunch (with my ex-husband in tow, so maybe it was the meds), did a Target run for last minutes, then I got some alone time in with her in her cozy bed while Mike ran to Target yet again to get her a fan because he didn’t feel like the fan she had was good enough.
After saying goodbye in the lobby of her dorm, Mike and I walked out to the bookstore across the courtyard to do a little take our mind off things shopping.
It’s a thing.
We ended up using the restrooms there but I wasn’t really feeling the shopping thing (I KNOW), so we walked to the parking garage where our car was parked.
I saw Anna’s leftover food bags in the car and proceeded to sob. The kind of sobbing where you shake, then lose your breath and just let it all out.
Mike put his hand over mine, let me sob, and we left the town our girl was now calling home.
I was about five minutes away from the parking garage when I stopped crying and recovered.
I didn’t cry the rest of the way home.
I did talk to my husband, texted family and friends, and actually enjoyed the rest of the ride.
I got to the part I dreaded, seeing Anna’s room when we got home, and I was actually fine.
Maybe it was because Ella was there, Buddy was jumping on us excitedly, and life was moving on as it should.
I have some sad days here and there, but life goes on, things get done, and I am enjoying having a new role in Anna’s life. Mom of a child who lives away from home.
I don’t hear her voice every day anymore, which was unsettling at first, but I’m learning that it’s normal and healthy. I am letting go.
I was afraid my mom role for Anna was over, but quite the contrary.
It’s just beginning.
30 thoughts on “I’m Okay. Trust Me, I’m Shocked Too”
I went through almost the exact thing when we dropped my oldest off at school. He’s been gone a year and I still have weepy moments. But I know he’s doing ok. And he knows that I’m here no matter what. I realized this week that I miss those last months of HS because of all the cool stuff that was happening (because of him). But then I remembered that I needed him to get out and start experiencing his life.
You’ve done a great job with the new normal in your world. Here’s to mommas who hang in there!
I am still missing her senior year a bit; the kids in and out of the house, seeing her friends (I never thought about missing THEM too!). But I am enjoying a different phase of parenting her. It’s still a struggle here and there but it isn’t as dreadful as I thought it would be.
Raising a glass in your direction! 🙂
It truly is an adventure!!
Of course, you are on a different adventure and I will need that support when Ella flies the coop someday. 🙂
thanks for the morning cry. I’m glad you’re doing ok!! I currently have one kid not with me everyday and it is often gut wrenching (because he shouldn’t be gone yet) but praying it’s really for the best and trying to embrace the new level it’s brought to our relationship
I hope I can give other mom’s who are dreading this life stage, some hope. It isn’t the end of the world although it feels like it will. You, like me, will do amazing. 🙂
I’m so proud of you. Obviously, its emotionally charged for everybody involved and everyone is going through their own emotions (except maybe Nibbles) but good on you for putting the focus on her when needed. Therapy probably started at a good time and it will really help you with that transition. Doesn’t mean you won’t have days where you want to go fetal for an hour and that’s okay too. 😉
You and I are on the same wavelength because I am writing a post about Nibbles as I reply to your comment.
I believe I couldn’t have been this mentally healthy without therapy. It is really a lifesaver.
Good for you! I am also a hot mess of anxiety in ADVANCE of things and then I usually handle it all like a champ when it finally happens. The thing is, providing the teen in question is healthy and able, it’s OUR JOB to raise them to be able to leave us and go out on their own. So…good job, you!
YESSS!! To all of this! I am also glad I have had you as a positive example of what this looks like. 🙂
Oh, Kari–this post makes me so happy. I am SO glad for you that it’s going this way. I think I have shared that it wasn’t quite like that for me, and your post helps me understand why. I knew almost immediately that we didn’t do the transition right. (She walked out the door like she’d done a million times and into her dad’s car and he flew across the country with her and got to do all the settling in things. Why is a long story, but I should have known better and never let that happen.) And then I had a whole lot of other bad life things going on that left me alone in a mostly empty house. All of which is to say, I might not have connected some dots without reading this. (Despite therapy. Maybe I need to see your therapist. Sure, I’m gonna fly to the midwest every other week. Oh well.) So, THANK YOU. I can’t wait to see how you continue to blossom.
Oh friend, I know I couldn’t have done this alone for sure. Therapy is saving me. I am 100% sure of that.
Sending you so much love.
I know I’ve said this a million times. I’m so proud of you!!
Thank you so much, friend! I am so glad I have you in my life. 🙂
It is such an emotional time. I thought maybe my daughter will never live with us again. Now, however, she is married and still comes home to stay while her husband works abroad. Parenting only changes but never stops xx
YES!! I love hearing stories like this because it gives you insight and hope. Thank you for that. 🙂
Transitions in life are never easy – not for you, not for your daughter. But it sounds like you are doing amazingly well, mama. Parenting is a wild and crazy ride, for sure!
It really is! But I love this ride. 🙂
You are going to be fine.
Thank you, Maureen. 🙂
I wish you to be always happy and smiling.
Thank you! 🙂
Glad to hear you’re ok! My brother just got on a plane to head back to Japan where he lives and I cried for a good hour – and he’s lived there awhile but I cry each year when he leaves after his visit. I have no idea how I’m going to survive having kids growing up. And every time I share that fear with anyone, they don’t reassure me – they tell me how f%%%%% fast time moves! Ugh haha
On a side note, it seems like you’re doing a great job with your two girls – so I’m more than sure that she and you will be better than fine 🙂
LMAO damn parents ruining it for everyone! (I agree, they really do)
Aww, you are so sweet to say so. I am just happy that on this day, they are doing well.
But that is always subject to change. 🙂
Reading this made me cry! I love this journey you are on. I mean, is this what healthy looks like? Cause if it is, I am soooooo going to therapy. I mean, I’m going to go anyway, but you are inspiring me to do it sooner than later. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have your kid move out. I travel so often that I am away from my kids for days at a time, and I’m kind of numb to it. Which in and of itself is horribly depressing.
Look at you adulting! I’m proud of you! And yes, I know we haven’t known each other that long, and who the hell am I to say something like that. But shit, I am proud!
Therapy is so good. SO, I haven’t gone in two weeks because of schedules, and I miss her. I see her tomorrow and it’s like Christmas is tomorrow. Which is funny because my therapist is Jewish.
I am not good on my own yet, I still need her. Because I am not as good at this adjustment thing when I am not seeing her weekly. I wish I could pull her out of my purse and say, “how do I react to THIS??”.
I love you, my friend. It doesn’t matter if we’ve never met in person (YET), or that we’ve only communicated for a couple of months, I love your comments and how you make me feel when I read them. Thank you for that. 🙂
Girl, I can relate! I stress out beforehand and then am usually fine when it actually happens. I’m super close to my kids too (ages 16 to 24) so I have to reign myself in sometimes from being the mom who wants to know all things and wants everything to be okay.
You’ve got this! You’re strong.
This is SO hard. I used to know the majority of what was going on and now, not much. It’s a daily struggle. But thank you for the reminder, I am strong. 🙂
Big fat puffy hearts.