Chez Songbird, Children, The Inner Landscape


Last night we sat around the dinner table with the children and compared calendars. We realized, to my horror, that because of #1 Son's work schedule, this was the last night all five of us would be home for dinner before Snowman returns to Land o'Lakes Arts Academy and #1 Son moves to Bed-Stuy (which I'm told is not as scary as it was back in my day, circa 1982–and if you know otherwise? please feel free to keep it to yourself, okay?).

Okay, Songbird, breathe.

I have to admit, I've been finding that hard to do when I consider their departures. #1 Son needs to talk about furnishings for his new apartment? I try to get a shallow breath. Snowman gives me a form to fill out for scholarships aimed at conservatory? I feel my head getting light.

Now, I have an 8th grader, so we're not exactly talking about an empty nest here.

And we have reframed our lives together as the boys left home for school.

But this is different. This is someone moving out, seeking his way in the world–

wait, trying to get a breath–


seeking his way in the world, someone who I brought into the world, now going out there to be who he is, and I don't know when we'll see him next, not exactly, or whether he'll be free to come home for holidays, or any of those things, and I find that quite literally breath-taking.

Being a mother is one of those jobs where you try to put yourself out of work, but then feel badly when you succeed and often feel a little resentful when they bounce back and need home care again, or so I'm told. As a mother, I set aside some of the things I wanted to do or places I wanted to go to be present to my children, and now I'm in the funny position of encouraging them to set *me* aside, to have other connections be primary, to need me less.

Breathe, right?

There are so many things we cannot control, so many possibilities, so many eventualities. Children need to grow up and leave, it's what they are meant to do, and we can only do our best, then stand back and cheer them on, quietly in order to avoid embarrassing them.

I'm torn between wanting to do and say a last round of all the most important and iconic things in our lives together or letting things just unfold in their end of summer way, drawing in like the light, drawn in like a breath and exhaled, fully.

17 thoughts on “Breath-taking”

  1. I don’t know what this is like, not at all, but I can’t imagine it’s easy. And I’m proud of you for being brave about it, because one thing I do know is that it takes a lot of courage.

  2. I know, it is scary. Just keep breathing–and throw in a many hugs as possible. Don’t worry–#1 Son won’t forget you. You will hear from him and see him as regularly as his schedule permits.

  3. This is a lovely, heart-wrenching post. I’m gearing up for this sort of thing, as my eldest embarks on her senior year of high school. Everything seems to be changing…
    I’m a little sad for you, a little proud of your brave face. And happy to sort of share in this.

  4. Oh yes. This is what we have worked for, but there’s still that little voice crying “Not yet!” But they’ll be fine, and so will you.

  5. Yes, do keep breathing, friend. Oxygen to the lungs is a good thing.
    Pax, C.

  6. Glad you wrote. I felt so much like this when first child and son left for college. Now he’s 29 and he is married, but he still likes talking to his mom! Things change but do not DIE!! Breathing is good; each breath is a gift of God. Take care.

  7. It is hard to learn. I haven’t learned it very well yet. To cheer, but not too loudly, whether you feel like cheering or not.
    But, like Jan says, things may have to change but they’ll still call and visit and want to talk to you. ‘Cuz you did good.

  8. (((Songbird))))
    New rhythms and new ways of being family–and yes, even of mothering–emerge. It isn’t the same, but it is good.
    And no, Bed-Stuy isn’t as scary as it used to be 🙂

  9. All the same hugs and love from here, too, and…
    …this post raises a question for me, which is “Does it HAVE to be this way?” Arent there some cultures and some times where families – all generations deep and wide – just keep on living together? And cant that be a good thing?
    Not like you’re going to move to your son’s NY apartment, but maybe the breath you’re having a hard time taking is because what we do in this culture, in this time, sending our babies out of the nest, is actually biologically unnatural.
    Just a thought, not very well formed. And mostly just a long winded way of saying, keep being easy on yourself. It’s hard stuff you are doing just now.
    Love to you.

  10. breathing is a good thing… breathing in the blessings, and exhaling blessings on other… now that’s the stuff of which the Spirit knows.

  11. It struck me that I’ll never feel this angst, and in an odd way, it makes me really sad. Guess we all have our loses to adjust to. Mine are just defined a bit differently. Love to you. Breathe… yes, breathing is good.

  12. “Being a mother is one of those jobs where you try to put yourself out of work, but then feel badly when you succeed” – amen sister – breathing along…

  13. I know your pain and your joy. Starting today I officially have an empty nest. All four children are in college. Such conflicting emotions…pride, sadness, joy, grief. The future is out of my hands now which means that it will most likely turn out just fine.
    Thanks for the reminder to breathe.

  14. Oh my lovely friend, you know just how much this resonates with me…When they are young, it seems as if our children’s childhoods will be endless..that there will always be another summer of trips to the swings and ice cream cones in the garden. Then suddenly things move into double speed and these young adults of ours explore ever wider horizons…and oh, it does hurt. Breathing with you.
    Much MUCH love xxxx

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