Scrolling down my Facebook wall, I knew it was that time again – the end of summer break when a lot of my friends would be sending their children off to college – preparing them both intellectually and socially for their futures. Each and every year, for the past seven years I have hated this time of year – resented each and every one of them, if only for a few moments, because they are sending their children off to college. There are the sad, sappy posts that always make me angry and the joyful ones that always make me sad. The inner turmoil I consistently feel when reading them is enough to leave me feeling emotionally exhausted, like my body is filled with wet sand that is weighing me down.
“So how old does your child have to be before you can let go? Is there a specific age? I mean I didn’t hear from mine for a day and a half and I freaked out. Does it ever stop or is this just being a psycho parent forever? lol HELP!” – Although I chose not to reply, on the inside I was screaming, “try not hearing from him/her for the rest of your life – what if you aren’t given a choice at what age you have to let go? What if you had to let go at the young age of seventeen, never to hear from them again? Never to see their face again?”
“This is the week many of our kids leave for college. My baby leaves tomorrow 😢 I’m sad already.” – This one really hit me hard. I wanted to comment back, “Your child has the opportunity to attend college and experience life why not be happy that they are able to leave tomorrow, that they will be experiencing something wonderful – the opportunity to learn and thrive! My son will never have that opportunity!”
“Just dropped our baby off at college. It doesn’t get any easier. Everyone lied to me 😢 So proud of her though. Can’t wait to see the big things she does!” This one was like a punch to the gut that brought me to my knees. If I had commented back, it would have read, “You are so blessed. I would give anything to be dropping Tyler off at college – to be missing him but know that he is living his dream. If only it were even an option to witness him grow and be successful rather than be left with nothing but memories with no possibility of making new ones.
“Michelle leaves for college in twelve days – I don’t know how parents do it. She has been with me since birth, how can I live without her?” Once again, I felt the rush of emotions inside of me and I wanted to scream at this person, “Seriously?? At least you have a choice – what if the choice was taken from you? What if you knew you were never going to see her again? My son was with me since birth and I wasn’t given a choice of living with or without him.”
Shouldn’t these people be excited and happy for their children to be afforded the opportunity to attend college, to enjoy life, to live and breathe every day – what I wouldn’t give if my son were alive to do all of those things. When Tyler died, I felt like I had been robbed of my parenting role as I had always imagined it. There are times when these posts seem so inconsiderate and selfish – don’t they know that I am hurting? Don’t they know that I am missing my son? What is wrong with people??
And then reality strikes me like a tsunami flooding a shoreline – onrushing and unusually sharp. Why should these parents have to sensor what they post on Facebook? Why should they have to change the way they live and what they choose to post on their own social media pages? Was it even fair of me to suggest such a thing? Did I have the right to be judgmental simply because I was missing my son? I think not. The harsh reality is that I am the one being selfish and inconsiderate. My feelings of resentment and jealousy are not warranted, although I do believe they are a natural reaction when we are grieving such a profound loss. As difficult as it has been to accept, I realize that it was I that needed to change my way of thinking. Although I strive to be truly happy for others and to celebrate the success of their children, I would be lying if I said it doesn’t continue to sting ever so slightly and without fail, bring a tear to my eye.