Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why are Goodbye's so sad?

This morning, after saying my goodbyes to our Junior-in-college- son and giving him the "just one more" hug, I smiled as I closed the door and watched his Dad drive him to the airport.  After spending nearly a month at home during Christmas Break, he is on his way back to Austin, TX...1173 miles to be exact...away from home.  He will turn 21 later this month, without ME.  ;)

Turning from the side door that leads to the garage, I waited to hear the car drive away until I gave way to the tears I had been holding back. Why is saying goodbye so hard...our son is doing so well in college and living on his own in a town so far away.  Our son has turned into an amazing young man and is working hard on his hopes and dreams for his own life.  His OWN life.

I knew before I could even whisper the question, what must be done.  Updating my status on Facebook, I asked: When does it get easier sending your adult child back to college!?!?!? This mother hen is having difficulty this morning with the goodbye! Sam has flown the coop, yet again, on his way to Austin, TX. :((((((

22 comments later, it seems I am not alone in this struggle. (OF COURSE NOT...WE ARE NEVER ALONE!)  If you are on Facebook, visit the discussion--it brought up some interesting points to consider. 

  • It may be unreasonable to expect that saying goodbye to your adult child should ever be easy or painfree.  As several Mom's pointed out, "they take our hearts with them."  Perhaps it is a myth that the goodbye gets easier as time goes by.  Perhaps we should expect to feel the allow time to recover before we step back into our daily life without them. 

  • Perspective: I have two dear Facebook friends who are amazing moms.  Within the last two months, one lost a son forever  in a motorcycle accident and the other said goodbye to her son as he left home following a Christmas complete his tour in Afghanistan.  PHEW! POWERFUL! NOW, I have something to think about other than my own sadness. Perspective offers us the chance to see more clearly...perspective, literally, clears our muddied vision and thoughts and navigates us to emotional joy.
  • Where do I end...and where does my son's life begin?  Interesting question? I wonder how many mother's struggle with this dilemma when their children become adults.  I think....MANY. It's why we resist letting them grow and learn from their own mistakes. It's why we micro-manage, enable, and overstep their rightfully earned boundaries of adulthood. The real question I ask myself today is "Why do I feel so empty, so purposeless, and such loss when my adult children are not home?"  Clearly, the fact this feeling exists, demonstrates I have not accepted where I end...and they have begun!  ;)   
When does it get easier.....?  In 22 comments I learned it (whatever goodbye we are facing) when we understand it is reasonable to experience sadness--we carried them under our heart for 9 months and IN our hearts for many more. We'd be cold-hearted and dead if we didn't feel some sadness. 

When does it get easier....?  In 22 comments I learned PERSPECTIVE is so important...NO...PERSPECTIVE IS ESSENTIAL to navigate through our emotions. As I thought about both of my FB friends, I smiled as I remembered the joy we have shared together and prayed for them as I brought their pain and loss to God. Honestly, the raw pain in my stomach was gone...before I was done praying.  Interesting how that works. :) 

When does it get easier...?  In 22 comments I learned...what I already knew before I asked the question: I have more work to do.  I need to step boldly into the life that God has purposed for me.  No wonder I was floundering in those moments after he left--I was expecting to stay in a life that does not belong to me....and refusing to step back into the life that God has purposed for me.  

  • Just one more bullet point:  Surround yourself with support. One of my favorite comments was simply: "You pressed his wings, now he can fly STRONG!!"  Oh...I knew Sam was prepared to return to Austin, I knew he would be just fine, for his early adult years have proven just that. But I needed to hear it...SEE remind myself that NOW is his time to soar.  Kinda makes me smile with pride and gratitude for the blessing of Sam's life.  Soar, my son, SOAR~ 

In the coming weeks, Partners In Prayer For Our Prodigals will be dedicating posts to "Saying Goodbye."  If it is difficult to say goodbye to an adult child or loved one who is doing well, the dynamics of saying goodbye to a loved one who is a prodigal are painfully more complex and complicated.  Let's examine "Saying Goodbye" so we will no longer be an obstacle in our adult children's life.  It's Time To Say Goodbye...let's learn to do it well :)  Will you join me?  Post any comments or questions that may have come to mind after reading today's post...and we will tackle this together! 



Valerie said...

Is it more difficult to say "goodbye" when the child is doing well, overall, or when the child is a prodigal? At first glance, this might seem like a crazy question - but I've had to say goodbye to two prodigal daughters (and welcomed one back home), and it seems the pain I felt is similar to what you're going through with your son, Diane. Similar, but different - yet is the degree of difficulty the same or more in these instances? I guess perhaps it doesn't really matter. As long as we trust God in both instances, and experience the sadness and grief, that is what is important.

Your Partner in Prayer said...

Perhaps it is different for different people. I think there are additional emotions that raise their ugly heads when you have to say goodbye to a prodigal. Anxiety, loss of dreams and expectations, fear, dread, shame...just to name a few extra emotions that are counter intuitive to healthy emotional balance. I know from my own experience, and working with other parents of prodigals, fear is most paralyzing. What if he gets arrested. What if she overdoses. What if she gets raped or assaulted. What if he has no where to sleep in the cold? Fear paralyzes us from moving forward beyond our prodigals choices. Fear keeps us trapped in the enabling trap because if we stop enabling...they will have to face the consequences of their choices--and THAT scares us to death. You are right--in either case, we must trust God to protect their souls...and our souls! I think for the Christian parent, peace IS possible because we know that the problems are bigger than us...BUT NOT BIGGER THAN GOD. HE IS THE GOD OF ALL POSSIBILITIES! :)))

Valerie said...

I agree. The fear is the worst. THe ONLY reason I have kept Danielle on our cell phone plan is so that I can get online to see her activity - just to see if she is still alive. She was the one who saw all that I went through with Sara, and promised me she would never do the same to me - yet here she is, fallen away from us and from her faith. I know miracles happen because SAra has come back home to us and to her Lord, so I pray for another miracle with Danielle. Thanks for your perspective - you put words into what I was feeling. I'm praying for you, too, as your son ventures into the world and lives his own life. . . of which you shall always be a part.

nancygrayce said...

I have tried to comment on this several times on my ipad (which is NOT my best friend) and it wouldn't let me and I'm quite sure it couldn't be operator error!

I didn't have a problem with goodbyes that were the normal emptying of the nest. My problem was saying goodbye to the dream that I would not only be a parent to my adult child, but also a friend. My oldest took that when he chose drugs and alcohol over being part of the family. It is an endless roller coaster and although I thought I had said a successful goodbye to tears, I find they still fall now and again.

Marie said...

See, I love you for this! On Jan 6th I had to say good bye to my son as he headed off to finish his Senior Year In college. This is a life changing year for me and that sunday, I cried the entire day. just when i thought the tears were done, they would fall once more.

I'm accustomed to change, as my day job has required sudden changes through out my 12 years there and not to mention the changes "life" throws at us. but i have to tell you, sometimes I wonder if my heart is strong enough to handle what waits for me this year.

my step mom died suddenly. she was my step mom since i was a teenager, my son will likely NOT return home after college, and that is ok as i'd rather have him smack in the middle of God's will than home with me - my daughter is going off to college....and i could continue but you see what i'm saying.

i told todd last year - "one day, i'll leave you and not cry...but not today."

i seriously doubt there will be such a day. ever. for either of my kids.

you bring me great Joy Diane! thank you for this post!

love and miss you lots!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart. Your words ministered to me as I am facing another goodbye and have cried all day! I am dealing with so many of the same thoughts you shared. The perspectives that you gained have helped me and I know that I am not alone! I look forward to more on this subject~

Anonymous said...

I don't know... I have been struggling yet trying desperately to hold on to my faith...

My son is in college and has begun drinking over a year ago. He has a girlfriend who is a different faith.

My son hardly comes home "too busy". Yet it seems deliberate that he doesn't want to spend time with us.

I was just thinking this morning... I wonder if there is any resources or help for the way I am feeling and how to reach him?

We have been respectful of him keeping us at arms length. It hurts and I don't know how to respond ~ except when I see him, to be loving and act as though everything is perfectly fine.

When he got his own place about a year ago, he said "don't worry Mom, I'll be back all the time". Not the case. I have no doubt he still loves God, but has walked away from everything taught as a child it seems.

That isn't brought up when we see each other... again, I was wondering... what is the best way to reach out to him in the brief, infrequent visits?