I’m not crying… you’re crying

Cecil Day-Lewis wrote in the poem ‘Walking Away’ ~ “selfhood begins with a walking away and love is proved in the letting go”…  turns out – there are many resources online to help you navigate the murky waters of your children moving out of your home…  and I have been pouring over these resources this last week hoping that it would patch and heal something that feels completely broken in my heart…  my heart hurts…

our sons, Brandon (17) and Ethan (15) both moved into their dorm rooms last week in Caronport, SK to attend high school there, play for Prairie Hockey Academy and also play football there… easily this has been the hardest parenting decision for the farmer and I to make… also a terribly hard decision that each boy had to make… it is a decision that many kids have to make in high school and now I begin to understand the weight of it…  you are losing your child and no one can prepare you for it…

I headed with the boys to Moose Jaw and left Sienna at home for her first day back to school (which broke my heart that I wasn’t there for it)… it had rained so the farmer was able to coach his football practice and then drive down to help with the orientation and moving in process… as I sat through the grade 12 meeting (the farmer went to the grade 10 meeting) I started to feel like I was going to throw up…  I used to battle anxiety attacks (mainly due to storms), but really have not had one in over 10 years at least… I still know what one feels like and I was worried that I was about to black out and really embarrass my son on the first day…

we were able to get out of the meeting with nothing horrible happening and had to go through class selections, finances, ID pictures, sports sign ups, campus tour, hockey meeting, first football practice and dorm setup…  it felt like four days all piled into one after a decently relaxing summer…

the saving grace for me was that the boys were busy and I was able to set their rooms up all on my own with no arguing with them over where things were going to go…  the entire time I still felt like I couldn’t swallow due to a lump in my throat and again the feeling of dizziness and possibly throwing up was always there… (if you see pale faced moms on the first day of school, watch out for vomit)

I was telling myself that I had no time to truly prepare for this…  well, I suppose I have had 17 years but you never really are preparing for them to leave… and of course Facebook hits me every day now with updates of how fantastic harvest used to be with the boys at home…

losing two in one day is almost more than I could take…  the farmer was so wise, as we were leaving town and the sobbing had begun, he came out of the convenient store with an ice cream bar for me…  this is proven – one cannot sob and eat ice cream at the same time...  genius…

that day was more draining than any marathon or ultra marathon I have ever been in… but I didn’t realize that some of the hard days are yet to come…  the daily reality of living with your child no longer at home and worrying about their welfare is depleting and draining… I texted a friend today that has been through more stress than anyone I know “have you ever lost your hair and eyelashes?” …  she replied that she has had just about every side effect of stress except for that one…  so I am still searching for how to keep my hair and lashes on my head…

I have been a stay-at-home mom with these boys for all their years…  it was a decision the farmer and I made when Brandon was born and we decided that I could do all the work of bookkeeping, raising the kids and all the other things that come along with farming…  it hasn’t always been easy being a stay-at-home mom…  it has come with many struggles but now that they are gone and it is just the farmer and Sienna left with me, I feel fortunate to have been here with the boys for every step of their journey – literally 🙂

having a job outside of the house can provide structure and distraction, but by no means immunization from the loneliness and sadness a parent will feel when their child moves away…  I have seen this with the farmer…  he has enough distraction and work that you would think he wouldn’t notice that the boys are not home…  yet it has been just as hard on him as it has been on me… coaching a football team without them on it, farming without them, watching the NFL opening Sunday football games without them…  it is all such a change and everyday I feel like something is missing…

a good friend said it so well to me “our kids are so much a part of us and we spend so much time ‘parenting’ when they’re younger.  and then when they are older we get to relax a bit and really appreciate who they are as people and that place they hold in our hearts expands.  they each have their own piece of your heart because they are a part of you.  so when they leave, they take a part of your heart with them.  but I think they can feel that piece they took with them – where they are.”

now at this point of my sob story, I’m sure it is crossing your mind… ‘but did you not pay for this schooling?’  and  ‘are they not excited for this change and opportunity to do new things and meet new people?’ … yes, of course we all decided this was something we wanted and are very excited about…  and that does trump the sadness and loneliness of missing them…  but it doesn’t mean that it’s not there…

corn slaw with peanut butter lime dressing

Ingredients:

Peanut Butter Lime Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated or minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 tbsp cold water (or more)

Corn Slaw:

  • 3 cups corn
  • 1 small head green cabbage, cored and finely shredded (or I use a spiralizer)
  • 2 carrots, peeled into ribbons
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and finely sliced
  • 4 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup roasted and salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

  • I made the dressing in a Vitamix blender (because I tripled it) but you can either make it in a blender or just shake it together… it should be runny
  • combine all of the corn slaw ingredients except the peanuts
  • pour dressing over and add salt and pepper as needed
  • you can keep this is the fridge, when ready to serve add the peanuts on top

I’m not sure exactly how this parent-child separation thing is supposed to work… but ideally I get to be as sad and miserable as I want to be and they need to be loving life and happy and joyous and constant pillow fights… ok, now it’s sounding like a summer camp I went to…  I actually think they are still in school and it’s decently hard work they are doing…  along with two sports…  so maybe no energy for pillow fights…

the main point is me = sad, boys = happy…  is that too much to ask?  and then I realize I have my little side-kick here at home with me…

not only did Sienna lose her brothers but she inherited all of their jobs…  and add to that a mom who possibly has alopecia…

so she is slightly ruining my pity party… one of the big changes for her is she used to get away with everything because I was focused somewhat on the boys… and now all I have to focus on is her so I notice everything she does… or doesn’t do…  and I want to hover over her and do her hair and nails and have a girls evening where we can watch Netflix and eat ice cream… (to prevent crying)

korean beef sloppy joe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup hoisin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbps soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha
  • 4 buns

Directions:

  • in a large skillet, brown the beef and strain
  • add sesame oil to the skillet and garlic
  • add back the beef and the rest of the ingredients
  • serve over a bun (with a slice of havarti cheese, optional)

one of the parenting resources said “never pass the weight of your own grief on to your child”... now, I’m not sure how ‘expert’ this advice is… I personally think my children should suffer in grief with me… every time I fight with the farmer I like the children to be a part of our argument… when I’m mad at someone in town, I like my children to join me in my anger…  how are they going to be able to deal with ‘adult problems’ if they don’t start now dealing with my ‘adult problems’???

but, alas, I have decided to take this parenting advice and hide it from them how melancholy I am… until they see my eyelashes… then the cat’s out of the bag…

they cannot bear the responsibility for my sadness…  it’s not their fault that they spent 9 months in my belly, I spent night after night feeding them in the darkness of the house, when they were sick I laid there awake listening to see if they were breathing, I cried at their first hockey practice and most definitely cried on their first goal, I loved every moment of school lunches and hearing the stories when they got home, car rides (even when they slept), watching them play basketball and football in the yard…

ok – I digress… moral of the story is they can’t feel guilty for how sad their mom is

it has always been very important to the farmer and I to raise kids that were independent and didn’t need us around them to find joy…  we cultured this over the years by traveling and leaving them a lot 🙂 … so I know they are ready for it… and I know it will get better…

but I also know I love being their mom… equal to loving the farmer it has been my greatest joy to be their mother, to fold their laundry, to tell them when a joke is not funny, to cut their hair and tell them they stink and need a shower, to run with them and watch movies with them… to say no to them and tell them why… to watch them succeed and fail and get to be there afterwards…

I know I’m still their mom…  it just feels like they are far away and the way I mother them has to change…  but I am so proud of them and excited for them and hopeful that this will be a good thing… because as parents – that is all we hope for – for our children to find their purpose and joy and hope in life…

strawberry rhubarb crumb bars

Ingredients:

For the Strawberry Rhubarb Jam:

  • 1 lb (@ 4 cups) rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 lb (@ 4 cups) strawberries, hulled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

For the Bars:

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (or more) strawberry rhubarb jam
  • 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:

  • prehead oven to 350 degrees
  • line an 8” pan with a sheet of greased foil
  • for the jam: combine the ingredients in a medium pot over low heat… stir regularly for 10-15 minutes…  cool in a bowl
  • combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl
  • stir in the butter until the mixture is consistent
  • pack 2/3 of the mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan and press down
  • bake for 10 minutes
  • when finished, spread the jam on top and add the berries
  • mix the pecans with the remaining oat mixture and crumble on the top
  • bake for 25 minutes
  • allow to cool completely before cutting
  • keeps in fridge but does not freeze well

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