Thursday, May 24, 2012

Being the "Other Mother" and Saying Goodbye

I have 3 children to whom I have given birth.  Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time with many of their friends as well, and there are certain ones who have spent more time here than others.  As a result, I have grown very fond of them and consider them my other children.  I have accepted their Facebook friend requests and read their Facebook statuses, rejoicing with them when they are happy, feeling concern when they are sad and worrying when something is bothering them.  I try to have these feelings from a distance, particularly for the friends of my oldest son Jake, as they are now young adults and don't want their own parents asking them questions, much less me.  But I care nonetheless.

In January one of these other children came to live with us.  I always knew the situation would be temporary, but the longer he was here, the more I dreaded the day that he would leave.  He wasn't used to living with younger children and wasn't used to my style of mothering that some might call "smothering mothering" or "helicopter" mom behavior.  I gave him the rules and also warned him that there would be home-cooked meals, laundry services, annoying "where are you" phone calls, intruding questions and hugs and love.  I knew it would be an adjustment for him, and it was. For a month or so, he asked if he could get a drink or snack or take a shower and never ate the suppers I made and left in the refrigerator for him.  But gradually, he became more comfortable.  He reheated his suppers every night when he came home, he stopped being so polite and showered when he wanted to and felt comfortable to help himself to the fridge and pantry.  He also said good night to me every night before he went downstairs to his room. 

Yesterday he told me that he was going to be moving back home with his mother, and I'll admit a part of me wanted to say, "But I'm your mother."  But I'm not, and no matter how much I love him as my own, I have to let him go.  We talked for awhile, he thanked me for everything the way he has done so many times in the past, we talked about his future plans, we promised to still see each other occasionally and said we'd miss each other and when he said "I love you", I said it back with a lump in my throat and fought back the tears.  And when we hung up, I felt sad and let the tears fall.

Today after work I went to his room to bring in clean laundry.  As I opened the door, I noticed he had been packing, and it hit me...hard.  My other son was leaving... and soon.  He texted me a little while later to ask if it was okay to start moving some of his things to his mother's, and I wrote back "Sure, but I'm sad."  While I was at Nathan's game he called to say he had moved everything out as he had a truck tonight and just did it all in one shot and said he was sorry to have missed me but would stop by.  The lump in my throat immediately returned. 

When I got home, I went downstairs.  The door to his room was open, and I walked in.  The room was empty.  I stood in the middle of the room and cried.  I haven't had to say goodbye to a child who has left for college or who has gone into the military or moved out, and one of my birds had left the nest.

So to my other son...I will miss you, I want nothing but the best for you, and I will always be here for you.  Thank you for letting me be your mother even for a short time, thank you for letting me be a part of your life and thank you for being a part of our family.  You are important to me, you are special, and I love you.

1 comment: