When Kids Leave Home

My Daughter left home

This week I took my 18 year old daughter to her new college, where she will be living from now on. On the way home I had to stop 3 times to cry; I was not prepared for the intense pain I experienced!

I always knew the day would come when my kids would leave home for an independent life. But I was not prepared for the emotions and feelings that came up when it actually happened.

After all, as a Parent and Family Coach I expected my training and experience would shield me from and help me deal with at least some of the conflicting emotions that many of my parents have described to me in the past.

I thought I was prepared – I was not!

Nobody can prepare us for the deep emotions that we as parents go through when the one(s) we have loved THE  MOST for 18 years, carried in our stomachs, raised, moulded and loved unconditionally are not there every day to kiss, hug, feel and squeeze, look at and think ‘you are mine no matter what’. .

I suddenly missed:

* That I can‘t find my favourite mug and then find it in her room, again!

* Telling her to pick up her shoes and put them in the basket, again.

* Calling her down for dinner, 10 TIMES.

* Telling her to tidy her room!

* Setting the table for 5 of us

I felt that strange feeling like I had lost something and kept looking for it. My 2 boys missed her too; they still called her down for dinner, ‘oh no she is not here’, they still say ‘why can’t Michelle do it, ohh no she’s not here’. They often say ‘when Michelle was here she would..’.  We all miss her in our family.

But most of all I miss kissing, hugging, seeing and just being with her every day; that luxury is gone.

I felt: 

* “It’s the end of a whole phase of my life, and I will miss it sooo much.”

* I grieved the loss of seeing my daughter having breakfast, checking in on her and having her around me.

* I sobbed for the end of my relationship with my daughter as it had been, and of our family as we knew it.

* There was a big emptiness in my life that I just didn’t know how I was going to fill.

But once I got over these deep feelings I started: 

* Feeling so proud of the child I have raised: so independent, mature, loving, caring. She can cook, wash and look after herself 100%.

* Reminding myself how much I LOVE our healthy relationship. We enjoy each other’s company – but I give her space and accept her individuality and need for independency.

* Looking forward to a new chapter in my life with my daughter. Where I will go and see her as an adult, but still my child.

* Seeing in the future that we will be friends and have a balanced relationship.

* Accepting she has not left me, she has just gone somewhere else and will be back to kiss, hug, see and love me as often as she can and wants to.

* Feeling proud of the mother I am, knowing I have raised a child like that. She is just as she is meant to be and more.

Going forward: 

* I will have to stop thinking: Did I say everything to her? –  ‘don’t talk to strangers, don’t go running in the dark, don’t stay up too late, don’t put your Irish woollen jumper in the dryer!’ –  YES I DID, 100 times at least!

* I have to stop texting or calling her every day (or a few times a day) to check on her or remind her, ‘it’s raining, remember your umbrella’. Or to ask ‘what are you doing today’ or’ how are you today’, hoping and not hoping she will reply ‘I miss you and I want to come home!’

* I will have to stop going in to her room and tormenting my heart!

* I will have to stop checking my phone day and night to see if she has called or texted me about something that went wrong (I really need to sleep).

* I will send her letters in the post as often as I can to write to her about life at home (I am sure it will seem so boring to her now).

* I will send her envelops, stamps and paper so she can write to her grandparents in DK and Ireland and tell them about her new life (hopefully she will send one to us too).

* I will remind myself about the time when I left home and how I have survived, done well for myself and still have an amazing relationship with both my parents today.

Because I know that sometime (very soon) she will just want to come home and sleep in her old bed for one night – but I also know it might only be for one night and that is ok. I am looking forward to welcoming her with open arms and I will let her go again when she needs to, knowing she will be back again soon.

Luckily I still have 2 boys at home to kiss, hug and be with every day. But I also know the day will come when they too will leave home for an independent life. That once again I will have to go through these deep intense emotions of having my heart ripped out and see it running  around with 2 small legs in a big world, without me right by its side to protect it!

I also have my lovely husband, whom I am looking forward to spending more time with; going sailing, walking, talking and being teenagers again and doing the things we used to do (in a more mature and slow way).

I am also looking forward to the future; when my 3 kids will come home, maybe with THEIR families in time, and we will have Christmas, birthdays and holidays together.

And I love knowing that I have 3 small friends for life!

All the best

Mette