Goodness Guru: When your grandchildren leave home
Many of us have been in this situation; the moment you realize your oldest child has really left the nest. You know it the second it really hits you that you now have more room in your home, fewer schedules to organize, less food to have to purchase, fewer loads of laundry to fold. It’s a moment we mostly prepare for. We’ve raised our children to become independent adults. We’ve actually looked forward to this transition in some ways. But then it happens.
I got a Marco Polo message from my oldest daughter last week. It went something like this:
“Oh mom. Last night I was folding some laundry and I found a pair of shorts my son had left in the laundry. I started to cry. We took the truck to help move some of his stuff and then we took him to dinner. I was teary the entire evening, but I think I hid it well.
This morning I took the dog out and automatically looked for my son’s car in the driveway turnaround. Oh yes, he’s gone! I folded the last bit of laundry and started sobbing. I cried through my entire workout and shower. I’m OK at work right now. This must be how you felt when I left!”
Yes! She’s exactly right! She was my first to move out in a permanent way. Later years brought children moving out for college or other endeavors, knowing they would come back occasionally. But when they moved out for marriage or purchased their own home, it was more permanent and brought some sorrow to my mother’s heart.
But in a way, you are proud of your child; growing up and taking on the responsibilities you hope you’ve prepared them for. I suppose I should tell my daughter some things.
Yes, you will miss your child, sometimes desperately, and you will think he might not ever need you again.
You will have one less chauffeur for other family members.
You will have an empty space in your home and in your heart.
You will also have a guest room.
You will have less laundry and lower grocery bills.
You will cherish the moments you have with this son whenever he comes over for dinner, holidays, or the washer and dryer; and you will make time to meet up for lunch.
He will still call you when he needs something. (He’s already called me for math help, and he will certainly call you.)
You will love him as deeply as ever and that love will grow to include his friends, girlfriend and eventually his children! Your grandchildren!
You will love and appreciate other adults in his life who help him continue to learn and grow.
You will sorrow in his disappointments and you will joy in his triumphs just like you always have.
You are not losing a child, of course. Your relationship is just changing and growing and it can be a joyful change. This is what I have experienced so far. It was hard for me when you moved out. I cried. It was even harder we I moved across the country and you stayed with your new little family. But I have loved any chances to get together with you. I’ve loved taking part in any of your family’s activities. It has been my opportunity to sit back and watch my children develop as adults and now you get the chance to do the same. You will love the new, adult friendships you will have as your children leave and create their own lives. You will be proud and pleased that you’ve had the opportunity to be their Mom, just like I am.
Jennifer Sant is a Utah high school teacher, energy wellness coach mother of five and currently grandmother of eleven. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.