My son is off to University. He’s leaving home on Saturday and yes, obviously my emotions are vibrating very close to the surface at the moment. I read an article (well I sort of skimmed it as I was doing something or other at the same time) that roughly told parents to stop making it all about them, stop sharing how weepy and empty they feel when their offspring leave home. Two things spring to mind about this… 1) Yes, fair enough, keep a sense of who needs to feel what and when and who to show it to and how much, 2) My son is leaving home so FUCK OFF telling me how to feel about that because every parent and every child (teen/young adult now) have a different relationship and there is not a one size fits all emotion. My ‘feeling empty’, your ‘punch to the gut’… we say the same words but that’s where it ends.

So far so mildly pretentious.

So why am I writing this?

Because this week is bringing back the time I left home to go to College – and when I left home my mum had died 2 weeks earlier. My dad had lost his (admittedly ex) wife and his daughter in the space of 14 days and I never really appreciated how 100% SHIT that must have been for him until now. (My older sister had already left home in less than ideal circumstances a while before and was living in a bedsit in Vauxhall at this point with a fucking headcase. More of that shortly, maybe).

When mum died dad and I spent a lot of time NOT CRYING in front of each other so that the other person didn’t have to see the other person crying because then we’d have to deal with the how they felt about the other one crying and MY GOD the loop of grief and care was endless and hopeless and is still making waves to this day. No doubt about that.

So why am I writing this?

Something about loss, and love, and grief and proportionate responses to big life events. Something about not measuring how you feel against how someone else feels (unless it’s helpful to you) and definitely not against some newspaper article lazily slapped on the page by some journalist who may or may not have kids about to leave home, who may or may not have feelings. They probably do have feelings if I’m being fair, but they are expressing them for money, not because they can’t help it.

My son is leaving home on Saturday and I am overwhelmed with the fact I am alive to pack some kitchenware into a plastic box with a lid from Yorkshire Trading (because it’ll come in handy for all sorts of other things too, a box with a lid is your friend for life mate) – I am alive to gently prompt him to join the Facebook group for first year ‘computing and engineer students’ even though he doesn’t have a Facebook account and if he were to join the Uni group then it would look like he has no other Facebook friends because he’s only just joined… and OH GOD does that matter? To him? To anyone? Really?

So I spent a lot of time not crying in front of my dad or anyone in fact when my mum died and I went straight to college… I wanted to spare everyone from having to react to my news and I wanted to start fresh and not be an object of pity. It didn’t work, I crashed and burned a few months in, but not before learning how to build walls (fast and furious and quietly) had moved from a skill (over the years mum was ill) into a cast iron personality defect that … well it’s still making waves.

So why the fuck am I telling you this?

I think it’s because WE’RE ALL ALLOWED to feel utterly bereft when our kids leave home and as long as we’re not gripping their clothes, on our knees, weeping and beating our chests as they try and walk away into their new life we can safely say that yes, it does feel as if a limb is being torn off and thrown so high into the atmosphere there is no hope of ever getting it back and re-attaching it (this is some really shit writing, sorry)…. BUT it would be REALLY WEIRD if it didn’t feel like that and it will soon become the NEW NORMAL. My walls are no barrier to this avalanche of emotion so I’m respecting that and finding a way to feel it. Without making it all about me. Because it genuinely isn’t about me, or you, is it? My son never reads anything I write so we’re safe here 😉

Right now my chest is hollow, my stomach hurts, my leg is orbiting the moon, BUT I’M ALIVE TO PUT SOME LEFT OVER CHEESECAKE IN A TUPPERWARE FOR MY SON even though it won’t travel well, but the Tupperware will come in very handy, for the rest of his life. If he washes it.

Oh god.

And dad – you were and are a fucking hero. Sorry for abandoning you at the worst possible time, but time kept happening and forward motion seemed like the right thing at the time.  Thank you for not letting me know that you couldn’t breathe with the grief and the worry. I came home in the end x

(The thing about my sister is a separate blog I think. But I spent the first night of my new life in London with her and her headcase boyfriend and ended up with spaghetti bolognese in my hair via a strip club that the boyfriend was DJ’ing at. Life goals. Stay tuned).


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