I know he really really really wants to do it and he loves his pals so much and I said, "Sure!" But my face gave away my true feelings of heartache and I was very teary-eyed. In my rational mind I know this is normal and fine and of course he should go . . . but when I think of him going away that night/weekend for his birthday celebration, I am really sad. I want him to do what he wants and be with whom he wants, but, oh, it hurts.
I am having a hard time faking my "It's totally fine with me" vibe with him, and I don't want him to not do what he wants because he is worried his mommy will be sad. Any advice?
Teary-Eyed: I want to write this softly but every time I try — well, it’s been a tough couple of weeks in my inbox, with lots of stories of loneliness and social isolation, which is especially heart-wrenching when it happens to kids. And your son apparently has the opposite problem, plus a close and mutually supportive relationship with you, so please pardon my advisory sympathy deficit and pretend this “Suck it up, Mommy” and this “Get used to it because it’s all a long goodbye” are both written with poignant and tender prose.
He loves you. He’s healthy. That’s what his message is to you with this birthday weekend: He’s strong enough to want a life apart from you with friends, and that’s your victory as much as his. Even your expectation that he’ll worry about you suggests he’s not running from you the first chance he gets, but instead being mindful of how you feel and still feeling secure enough to leave.
Good job, Mama. For real.
Now get in there and finish your good work over the next few years by rallying. If you weren’t clear, tell him the trip sounds great, you’re fine with it, you’ll just miss him. Plan a birthday celly with the family for the weekend before or after. Hug him tightly when he’s feeling affectionate and don’t pout when he’s not. Talk to fellow adults about the teary eyes, so you’re managing it on your time vs. his.
And as he pulls away from you gradually and appropriately, keep an eye to ways you can, gradually and appropriately, start to redefine yourself as your parent role recedes. That will help you see him for the adult he’s becoming instead of the child he once was, which in turn will make it easier for him to stay close to you as he grows up.