Off to College – My Separation Anxiety

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Jonathan, our oldest child, is off to college. It’s a new reality for us and for him.

Doron and I took Jonathan to college last weekend and helped him settle into his dorm. We were very proud that Jonathan got into this specific school, but to be honest, I was even happier that he is staying in Florida, not too far away from me.

Much to our happiness, everything fell in place perfectly that weekend. Jonathan hit it off with his two roommates. He told us a few times that he loved the school, and he seemed very happy and alive. Every staff member we met was super nice and caring, and we really felt that Jonathan is in a good, safe place.

Yet, as much as we planned everything a year in advance, and we kind of prepared ourselves mentally for the moment of truth, when it was time to say goodbye and leave, the three of us were so emotional we could hardly speak. Jonathan didn’t want us to leave (I could see it in his eyes), and we didn’t want to leave without him. In fact, the minute Jonathan left us and strolled slowly towards his dorm, our hearts skipped a bit. I started sobbing. It went on (on and off) all the way back home. Doron was unusually quiet.

Are we any different from other parents whose children leave home and go on about their lives? Is it that hard for everyone?

Unlike many American families, we never sent Jonathan (or any of our kids) to a sleep away camp, except for last summer when Jonathan spent 6 weeks in an expedition in New Mexico/Colorado. We knew, though, that whatever happened on that expedition, at the end of 6 weeks Jonathan would be home again.

This time it’s different. He moved out. And I, apparently, am going through separation anxiety. Maybe I’m a little too worried because of motherly instincts, wanting to protect my little boy and make sure he is fine. Or maybe it’s because Jonathan reminds me so much of myself, when I was young, and I wish to spare him the pain and hardship of facing the world as an adult.

I’m holding myself (not without difficulty) from picking up the phone and calling Jonathan every day to make sure he is OK, even though I’m sure he is. So maybe it’s not actually about him? Maybe it’s all about me, and the roll I play in his life? As much as I would love to hear from Jonathan every day and continue to be part of his life, I’m slowly coming to the realization that the time has come. This is the point in life where I need to let go. It’s time for my baby to leave the nest and fly high.

And I know he will. Just as I did, years ago.

 

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