Letting Them Fly The Nest

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.

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8 Comments

  1. Arnie Samlan says:

    Your article was moving. Your family is truly blessed to have a mother and wife like you. Thanks for sharing your personal reflections.

  2. I was unsettled for weeks when my oldest son left home–and he was only an hour away! I don’t agree with Barbara Kingsolver and I certainly hope my children will turn to me when they need something, and I don’t mean gas money. Family members continue to “need” each other throughout their lives. :)

  3. Sitting here crying … my eldest will turn 18 next year IYH … at the moment he’s not planning aliyah but the process of separation will have begun … I can feel that iron fist clenching my heart already.

    Where did the time go, and how did these little people turn into big people?

    Hugs, dear Hadassah. Yes, it’s a new phase, but you will face it with grace, love and dignity, as always. Remember you are surrounded by people who love you.

  4. Lady Lock N Load says:

    HUGS! Does the thought of one less carpool cheer you up? I didn’t think so! :)

  5. Batya says:

    Hadassa, darling, you have done and are doing a wonderful job. He’s going about aliyah correctly, too. Coming young, army, studies and perfecting Hebrew are the keys to a successful life in the Land G-d gave us. He’s preparing the way for you and your husband to join us all.
    PS please tell your son he’s invited to Shiloh any time.

  6. Oh I am so with you… You will get through this and you will find that that sadness at seeing him go will be competing in your heart with the pride at seeing him living out a dream of yours and making Israel his life.

    It’s a crazy thing, this growing up. Whoever told them they could move on and lead their own lives? Well, you did. Cuz you’re a darn good mother. And they grow up much better people because of it.

    You done good HaDassah!!

  7. I take issue with one statement– Aryeh IS perfect. He is the kid on the bike who made a u-turn in the street to say hi to his mother’s friend when other boys I knew walked by without acknowledging my existence. I plan to follow him to Israel, G-d willing, in a few years, and I am both proud and privileged to have known him since he was wee.

  8. Susan says:

    I have so much respect for Aryeh and for you, Hadassah. That he has the confidence, self-knowledge and determination to follow his desires at such a young age is a testament to your excellent parenting.
    He will always be your eldest baby. Your heart will always be with him. Someday, hopefully, you will also be able to make aliyah and be close to him.

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