"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." -Dr Seuss
This past holiday season, we had a lot to celebrate. In addition to our typical yuletide festivities, we were blessed to celebrate my in-law's 60th wedding anniversary two days after Christmas and our own anniversary a week after the new year started.
As wonderful as it was to have such momentous events smack-in-the-middle of the holidays, it led to more goodbyes to our adult kids than I'm normally used to.
Having The Spawn come and go in such short and hectic celebratory spurts gave me some interesting insight into how I deal with my empty nest goodbyes.
Not well, it seems.
No matter how long they've been out of the nest, no matter how happy they are, no matter how I prepare myself, no matter how much I write about it. I can't seem to keep myself from being head-over-heels depressed every time I have to say goodbye to my young adult offspring.
It hits me like a ton of bricks. Seriously, I cry like Tammy Faye Bakker -- a regular air-sucking, mascara-dripping, please-God-nobody-see-me sob fest.
One would think I'd be used to goodbyes by now. Or that I've somehow figured out how to prepare for the letdown. After all, The Spawn are all finished with college and it's been over six years since we've had a full time, live-in offspring.
Prior to a visit, I'm obnoxiously ecstatic, bouncing off the walls happy. I certainly don't want to tarnish that feeling with the planning of the inevitable pit of despair at the end. So instead, I've been leaving an open void of time -- just waiting there for me to fall into, dragging self-pity in behind me.
Seeing The Spawn never fails to fulfil me. I am always surprised at how easily I can slip fully back into Mommy mode; it's a huge part of who I am. When I'm around them I smile bigger, laugh harder and feel so comfortably myself. The heartstrings sing -- and dig in hard.
Having to let go from those goodbye hugs at the airport is physically challenging. I feel like I've just run a marathon (OK, I've never actually run a marathon, but it looks really difficult). I can't catch my breath, there's a tightening in my chest and exhaustion soon sets in.
I have to force myself not to take to my bed with my smelling salts.
On the plus side, I'm finding that I have a quicker recovery time. What used to last weeks is now a matter of days.
Does this mean it gets gradually easier until the post-parting depression goes completely away? Or do I need to learn to brace myself for the inevitable and learn new ways to cope with it?
YOUR TURN: Do you have similar experiences? Any advice on how I can avoid post-parting depression? Suggestions, please!