Letting Them Fly The Nest
Three months isn’t a long time in the whole scheme of things. A quarter of a year. A blink, a sigh.
But these next three months are huge over here in the HSM household. Within the next three months our oldest will turn 18 and then make Aliyah. He is moving ahead with his life, leaving home to make a place for himself in the world. He’s planning his life in Israel, and is counting down until he’s there.
Son #2 asked me yesterday what my summer plans were. I answered “Preparing your brother for his Aliyah.” But on reflection, he’s already prepared, he has been for a while. I should have said “preparing myself for your brother’s Aliyah”. I feel blindsided by the emotion that courses through me whenever I think of him leaving. Nineteen years ago (almost to the day) I married his father, and then rapidly gave birth to four beautiful boys. I remember each of them as tiny little babies, needing me for everything. As time went on, these babies needed less and less, and became more and more autonomous.
I am not a control freak mother. I allow my kids the space to make their own mistakes, so they can learn their own life lessons, but in a safe environment. I like to think I don’t coddle them, and that I have taught them the right way to behave.
But raising kids in the right way means that at some point they need space to spread their wings, and we, as parents, have to stand back and let them fly. There is no manual for that, no how-to guide in cutting those apron strings. I don’t know how to be a long-distance mother. I don’t know how not to think of him every second of every day and wonder if he’s safe, if he’s eating, if he’s OK. Why do I feel as if a part of me is breaking into tiny little pieces at the thought of him leaving?
His departure means that as a parent I move into a different phase. The hard work is done (with him at least), and now it’s about reaping the benefits – seeing how well I raised him by the choices he now makes. I am very confident that he will make us proud – he’s always been a good kid, even when he wasn’t perfect!
This new phase accepts that within just a few years they will all have flown the nest. #2 is already asking to open his Aliyah file, and #3 talks about it as well. (The little one, eleven today, says that he’ll never leave because SOMEONE needs to take care of Ima).
For the last almost eighteen years I have defined myself primarily as a mother. Everything else that I do or have done pales into insignificance. These children are my life, my heart and my soul – and they always will be.
I wasn’t prepared for this iron fist of emotion sitting in the middle of my chest. I am so proud of my son – and will support him no matter what. I hope that by the time we take him to the airport for his Aliyah flight that I will be crying tears of joy for him at fulfilling his dream, and not tears of sadness because he’s leaving.