“Didn’t call you. Thought you must be feeling depressed after dropping your son to hostel. Wanted to give you some time to ‘settle down’.”  I heard this sentence so often that I rather started wondering if everything was fine with me, for I was not feeling anything even closer to being depressed!!! If at all, I am glad at having fulfilled a responsibility to the best of my abilities, proud that I put him on the right path to equip himself to face the world. I am happy that my son is pursuing something that he had been wanting and at a college that he slogged for two years to get admission in.

While I appreciated the feelings behind those statements, it did make me ponder over certain issues. There is a lot that comes with being a parent and that includes the time when you send your child to college. This certainly is a crucial phase for both-the child as well as the parents. This change is irrevocable as in all likelihood, the child shall begin an independent life henceforth. For mothers this is rather tougher to come to terms with the ‘absence’ of her child who had so far been the ‘purpose’ of her life. And when it was someone like me, who had never ever left her son to anyone else’s care (I did earn some not so flattering adjectives for this!), people did have a point to believe that I would be shattered. He, being a single child, added more to the notion. Baking cakes and cupcakes the way he liked, cooking what he enjoyed, taking him to various classes, shopping for him, the parent-teacher meets, talking to him, watching our favourite shows together-my life was defined by his activities since the time he became a part of my life. And suddenly there was this void. How was I to cope with this! Honestly, I was a surprise to myself. What was it that helped me deal with this? I am writing this piece in the hope that it will help others too in the similar situation.

1.Focus on the positive- When people asked, how was I dealing with my son’s absence, I would always reply that instead of feeling sad or anxious, I rejoiced in the fact that he was on his chosen path after working hard for the same. I would add that this was a better scenario than him not getting into the college of his choice and continue being with me! Would I like that- Definitely not! Also, whenever I spoke to him, he sounded happy and excited. Could have I asked for more! Moreover, wouldn't it be great that the child embarks on his new journey with light shoulders and free mind, with the knowledge that his parents are going to be fine without clinging on to him for their happiness!!!!!!

2.Communication- Yes, the child is off to college. He is exploring the newfound freedom and space which is good. Equally important is the communication. I talk to him at least twice a day, not to tell him what to do and what not to do (By now, he knows it better than me) but to feel connected and to know how he is doing. Facetime and WhatsApp has made it much easier and enriching. 😊 This made the transition so much more manageable.

3.Finding purpose and Staying busy- Yes, much as my life revolved around my son, I did find time to do what I liked even when he was around. I would read and write whenever I could. Now I can make my interests my priority and that includes travelling.  I have structured my day in a way that’s about constructive use of time without the element of hastiness. If you didn’t have any hobby, may be now it’s time to find your calling!

4.Nurture your other relations that might have moved to the margins because you were too busy raising your child- Though I always tried to stay connected with my folks and friends, now I do that with a sense of purpose thrown in and it’s quite rewarding!

Sure, your child has turned into an adult, living his college life and generally learning to be in charge of his life and that’s what you wanted, to begin with. And now that he is settled in his ways of life, celebrate and enjoy in yours!

As I read somewhere, “Selfhood begins with a walking away/ And love is proved in the letting go.”

Copyright © Aradhana Mishra