Monday, September 5, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Back to school/empty nest rant

It's THAT time of year again.

I am bracing myself for tomorrow's flood of back-to-school photos & posts & "OMG they're growing up so fast" posts.

Yesterday, dh's cousin's wife -- pregnant at the same time I was -- chronicled in words & photos on Facebook how they took their oldest son to university, a few hours away, and helped him set up his dorm room -- and then left him there. Reminisced about watching him take his first steps, mourned that she couldn't believe he was all grown up and leaving home. Comments along the lines of "you done good, Mom," and "be strong!" had me wincing.

Once more, I'm left with the thoughts, the pain, the (yes) downright envy:

At least you got to watch him grow up.


I've missed an entire lifetime of moments with my daughter that other parents get to take for granted,.

(It might not be easy -- but they knew this day was coming, right?)

I'm sure it takes strength to raise a child to adulthood and then watch them spread their wings and fly away to live their own, independent life. To face that empty nest, after years of building your entire life around your kids and their activities.

But it also takes strength to give birth to a much-wanted child that will never take a breath -- and then live with all the woulda/shoulda/coulda beens for the rest of your life. Or to live without the children you wanted so very much and once assumed would be yours (just like so many other parents do), and try to find other ways to give your life purpose and meaning.  To realize that your own carefully constructed nest will never be full, will always be empty. 

I just wish more people understood that, recognized that, empathized with that. I am sure nobody, outside the ALI community, realizes what an emotional minefield this time of year is for me and women like me. I would rank it not far below Mother's Day in terms of emotional impact, for me at least.

I remember my own first days at university so well. It was the moment I'd waited for all through my teenaged years, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be, and more. I still think of university as the best time of my life.

I wish I knew what university my daughter would have been attending. What she'd be studying, where she'd be living. I wish I could be sharing in her excitement.

I know I write this same post at this time every year, and I must sound like a broken record sometimes.

But it sucks. It absolutely, completely sucks. :( 

Rant over. (For now. ;)  )

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.        


  1. Hello you don't sound like a broken record to us....I can only imagine the pain of having had a stillborn daughter and having to watch everyone 'gloating' (bit harsh but I can't think of a better word right now - bragging? 'bursting with pride'? ugh) about their kids starting school and college. I'm so sorry. I understand the minefield: triggers are everywhere at the moment.
    As for the 'grief' of the empty nesters (I already had my sister tragically bemoaning the fact that her daughter might leave home, not even soon, but in 12 months' time - BITE ME!).
    What you describe is definitely a 'forgotten' kind of grief in the wider world: it's as if everyone thinks that the skin just heals over the wound and you should be OK by now. Wrong.

  2. Honestly, I think what you're experiencing is harder. Because though there is pain and sadness with watching your children grow, there is also joy and excitement. There's a lot of good that comes. Watching from the outside, especially with something so few understand is so much harder.

    I'm thinking of you Loribeth. Sending many hugs too.

  3. I salute your strength over these years, your unseen and unacknowledged strength. Being called on to be this kind of strong really does suck. Abiding with you as you once again show your quiet strength.

  4. I agree, the back to school photos are just underneath the Mother's Day posts. You are certainly not a broken record. <3

  5. Oh Loribeth, I'm so sorry. Of course this is a minefield time, and of course it would repeat every year, reminding you of every passed milestone. This year must be especially tough with the whole "losing" the child theme of first year of college. I feel you on that. I wrote a grief post earlier this week and my sister, whose youngest stepson went to college WHERE SHE WORKS, went on about how she was grieving his loss, how it's just so hard to let that go. So hard not to be like, "but you can call him up anytime, right? He exists on this plane, right? NOT THE SAME THING." It's very hard to bite my tongue. I get mourning the childhood moments you'll never have again, but it's so different from mourning a child who didn't get to do those things, ever. I am thinking of you and hoping that facebook doesn't make you want to stab things too much.

  6. I don't have any words that can possibly ease this hurt, but I will offer you hugs! I'm so sorry.

  7. First day of new school year is always hard for me too.
    I am sending you big hugs across the Atlantic.

  8. I'm just glad you have a space where you can rant, and where there are people who truly hear you. Your feelings are absolutely justified. Sending huge hugs across the Pacific.

    'Back to school' is early Feb here, but as usual I've had the odd photo from the US and UK. This morning there was one with the additional comment, "If anyone's rolling their eyes at another first day photo, go give your head a wobble." This, from a woman who herself suffered infertility and loss, perhaps knowing she might be hurting someone, but daring anyone to criticise her. I am rolling my eyes.

  9. Kids around here have been in school a month; so I went through that already...but it is my nephew's 10th birthday tomorrow...lot of where has the time gone from my sister and mom.

    Doesn't help that my car "turned 6" yesterday. We got this car with babies in mind. Now it is just a constant reminder of what I don't have. As soon as we are done paying off my husbands car I want to trade mine in for something a sports car with no back seat!

    1. I would love to see a photo of that!! :)

    2. Will do...but it will be awhile. His car only just past the year mark. He nerded out and got the full tech package ($$$). So it will be 5 or 6 years before I get my sport, kid unfriendly car. :D

  10. My attempt to post using wordpress didn't appear to take so I'm trying yet again.
    I so get this. I avoid fakebook in large part for this reason. Whether it's Mother's day, Christmas, Back to school, first steps, ballet, choir, band, soccer, insert school function here or insert kiddo's birthday party here, it never ends. If I had kids, would I be the annoying braggart parent? I honestly don't think so, in large part for the child's safety.

  11. You need to write what you need to write. Get it out. It does suck. It sucks to have to release your child for college AND it sucks to never get to know where Katie would have gone. Be kind to yourself this week. And avoid Facebook. Oh please avoid Facebook and read a really good book.

  12. Your post resonates so strongly with me. I'm sorry this season is so difficult. I wonder how long it will last . . . sadly, I think I know the answer. I have a faint memory of before my daughter, before my marriage, when "back to school" had very little meaning. It's exhausting. Peace. ~from Caits Mom