Wow! I did not expect this. The last month has been very emotional. I didn’t know what to do, much less write about it. I can write about the sadness, but admit to struggling with a kid that wants nothing to do with me? NO WAY. This post tells how I got over myself and how you can too.
At first, when school was out, my shy son became so social he seemed like a different person. He went to more parties and events in the 2 weeks around graduation than he went to in all of high school combined. I couldn’t believe it! I was happy for him and glad he was having fun. I stepped back on the rules knowing he’s a good kid; I trust him; I know his friends are good kids that aren’t into alcohol or drugs; and I do have the all important “Find My Friends” app that tells me where he is at all times (lol!) – yes, he knows this and can track my location as well
As summer set in, a normal routine started to take shape. He’s working full time as an assistant for Robotics Camps for kids. Suddenly, his mood changed – he’s got “attitude”. He stays in his room most of the time, and doesn’t see friends. He doesn’t want to talk to me. He doesn’t listen to my concerns – particularly over his health. This scared me. We’ve had some rough moments. As is my habit, I wanted to get away and just let him be. I even got out my suitcases one night, bawling and announcing my departure. I couldn’t take him being so mean, refusing to sit down and talk to me, and fighting me on getting help. (We live with my mother, so he wouldn’t be completely alone.)
I felt better the next morning, and I didn’t abandon him. I sought help from friends, other moms, and Facebook groups of fellow empty nesters. I took time to digest advice, perspective, and comfort. It helped. Turns out, I have the “Clings” – an intense desire to get closer to my son before he leaves home. He, on the other hand, has an intense desire to pull away and emotionally separate from me. He has anxiety about going college, leaving his family and friends, and proving he can manage on his own. I learned this is completely normal. In fact, if I’m honest, I went through same thing when I left for college. I just can’t remember how overwhelming those feelings were.
I’ve now stopped micromanaging. He needs to know that I trust and believe in him. I need to set boundaries, but I also need to stop drilling him. As in, “Did you get the housing application done? Did you call those two other students that friends recommended for a roommate? What about a private room? Did you get your allergy shot today? I set up an appointment with a nutritionist so you can find out more about how to handle your food allergies. I set up an appointment so you can talk with someone about your anger, depression, and anxiety. Let’s take a trip together, when and where should we go? Is what you’re eating gluten free?” I fired questions at him every time he appeared. Every time he fired back, “No! Stop bugging me!” No wonder he got so annoyed with me. I’ve been so anxious about making sure things are perfect, I couldn’t let anything go.
Faced with all of the feedback I got from friends and strangers, I have changed my ways. I don’t want his last weeks at home to be stressful and contentious because of me. I apologized to him and told him I would back off. I told him I would never abandon him. I told him I love him with all my heart. He reacted positively, so I think we’re on the right track. Now. . .it’s time to take care of ME. I need to find someone to talk to, find new activities to keep me busy, and take a girls weekend to relax. Now that I know better, I can do better.
Upcoming blog posts:
Finding happiness through forgotten hobbies.
The explosive combination of menopause and an empty nest.
Exciting plans for the next year for me and other moms.
Why I default to leaving when things get rough.
Check out my adorable new travel trailer!
How I managed to cure my chronic pain and fatigue in the last year.
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