ALetting go an offspring

ALetting go an offspring

Misery loves company. At a recent lunch with friends, the truth of this statement dawned upon me.

As a mother on the brink of letting go of one’s first-born away to college and hostel, the tales of similar tribulations of other mothers were like salve to the suffering, like Burnol to the burning, like chapstick to the chapped… you get the drift.

One of the mothers was ruing the fact that her teenaged son had not only gone away to college, but was actually enjoying himself there.

Another spoke with feeling about her daughter’s refusal to tow the parental line and choosing an offbeat career path like social work, instead of something more ‘solid’ like medicine or law.

Yet another was venting about her son’s irregular timings and being away from home for long undisclosed durations with not much forthcoming by way of explanations when asked.

The tales were all similar, familiar. We had all borne these situations with variations of degree and specification, but borne them all the same.

If not with aplomb and dignity, at least with enough grit to have survived the ordeal.

It isn’t easy when you have nurtured them for 18-odd years, and then suddenly having to let them fly out of the nest you created with such love, knowing well that you had been preparing them for this very day all along, taught them to spread their wings and find their own place in the sun.

And yet, when the day comes, actually arrives, the feeling you feel is close to panic. No, devastation.

How will your little one survive in this cruel world? (ok, so they are 18 and legally adult, but that doesn’t change anything. Does it – ask any parent.

Even those whose offspring are fifty-plus with adult children of their own. It’s coded into the parental gene to fear the worst when it comes to their children. Part of the DNA. How can you fight nature?

Imagine no mom around to cushion life’s hard knocks with soothing words and a hug. No dad to solve problems like last-minute spiral-binding of an assignment.

What will she eat – you panic. Who will make her favourite cheese omelette with the dash of tabasco? Who will insist she oil her hair before washing?

So the maternal advice pours forth in spite of yourself: Don’t be too generous and give away all your food to your roommates – you caution her. Don’t lend your things indiscriminately to others.

No need to be this martyr to the whole world. And knowing this gentle child will never say no to anyone, you add – learn to say no to people. And of course she turns and says “Mom, chill, I can take care of myself.

” You can? – you gasp. When on earth did you learn how to take care of yourself? And if you know how to take care of yourself, why haven’t you been showing any signs of it at home? How will you ever survive without me there to take care of you?

When all along the question we moms should probably be asking is: How will I survive without you?