Dealing with the exodus of children from the family home
By Theresa Blume
When my first son graduated high school, he barely stayed in town long enough to attend his graduation party. He found a program to work at Yosemite Park for the summer and hoped to begin his career far away from home.
I was not prepared for the heartbreak of saying goodbye to my first born and went straight into a deep depression. My best friend and neighbor Cindy suggested that I get a dog to fill the void. Even though we could not afford it, I bought a purebred miniature dachshund puppy just like she owned.
Sugar was the cutest little thing. She fit right in my hand, and she was a good distraction that required constant care. My son called from California, homesick, and when he heard her yipping in her little pen, he asked me what that noise was. I told him we got a puppy, and he immediately said, “Oh, I want to see her.”
As it turned out, working at the park was not so glamorous, so a few days later I had my son back, plus Sugar. My son came and went several times before eventually being able to permanently live on his own. That is when I learned that just because kids leave the nest it does not mean they are gone for good.
Then my second son graduated high school. He went to college that fall, and again I felt the heartbreak of an empty room in my house. He was only two hours away, but it still felt like the life had been sucked out of our home.
It helped that he came home weekends and holidays, but every time he left I would cry. One time he forgot something and came back shortly after leaving to find me crying. When he asked what was wrong, my husband simply explained, “She does that every time you leave.”
Thankfully, my youngest daughter was still at home to fill the emptiness. She was there when I went through cancer and helped out with household errands and driving me around. She and I got closer than ever, and I was so grateful that I had been blessed with a loving daughter.
She also made sure that our household consisted of various dogs and cats, so as the human population decreased, the animal population seemed to increase. Eventually, we had two large dogs and three spoiled housecats.
My daughter came and went a few times, trying out different careers and locations, and we were usually left with her animals until she came back. Meanwhile, both sons got married, and grandchildren began to fill the silent rooms.
Today my daughter is ready to leave the nest again, moving to a new apartment in Marshfield. This means two out of three children live close, so I think I will be OK this time. Letting your children go is the toughest part of being a mother, but if you have established solid relationships, they will always be close in your heart.