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Coming to terms with an absent son

(126 Posts)
tanith Sat 14-Jul-12 16:18:59

It was my son's 35th birthday the other day, he lives and works abroad , he posted some pics of his birthday lunch with his friends , they bought him a Hello Kitty cake with one candle and they look like they are having such a good time eating Al Fresco in the sunshine it suddenly struck me that its always going to be like that now , his life is elsewhere all the important things in his life will be enjoyed with others and not with us his family...
He has met a girl out there and they just bought an apartment to renovate and the usual invitations to come and visit have been made but I'm finding it so difficult to let go and come to terms with the back seat I'm now having to take.. he's never coming home to England he tells me so thats it my son is gone.. well thats how it feels.

I feel so ridiculous but its like he's abandoned us and I feel very very sad. I have my two daughters and lots of grandchildren who all live close by but it feels like he's not part of everyday life anymore and never will be. He hates skype by the way we tried that and it really didn't work, he's not good at answering or acknowledging messages or e-mail either.. and if they get married and have children I won't have a wonderful full on , see them every week relationship with them like the others..

sad sad sad.. I need to snap out of it , accept and find a different way to do things.. . any advice from all you lovely absent grans ...

whenim64 Sat 14-Jul-12 16:34:12

How far away is he, Tanith? Can't you go and visit him? I would be saving like mad to go and see where he is living and remind him about his family back home, but we're all different. smile

crimson Sat 14-Jul-12 16:34:32

My son would work abroad tomorrow if he could, tanith, so it's always been at the back of my mind that this could happen to me one day. Your son hasn't gone; he's still your son and you're still his mum. Rejoice in his happiness is all I can offer. But I do understand how you feel.

dorsetpennt Sat 14-Jul-12 16:35:29

You sound so sad and I know how I'd feel if my son and his family moved abroad. However, I did it when my son was 20 months old - we moved to the US for 7 years - I felt very guilty taking a beloved grandson away. That was 1978 and our main contact was via air mail with the odd phone call. So now you can phone more often and of course you can e-mail back and forth. I expect skyping may upset him, maybe he finds 'seeing' you much too hard. Although he lives abroad and is having a wonderful time, he will get home sick, we all did. We begged my MIL to visit us and offered to pay her fare. However, she was too nervous to travel a long distance so we came home as often as we can. You haven't said how long he has been gone - it would appear not too long - he hasn't abandoned you, I think you know that. Just to perhaps improve his life, or it was a chance he couldn't turn down. Give him time to settle in and you go and visit, you may then understand why he moved. Things change - we had planned to stay but didn't so don't abandon hope. The world is much smaller now. When my parents moved abroad in 1946 my mother didn't see her mother for 7 years!! There was just letters, phone calls far too expensive and had to be booked in advance. Can you imagine that ? So you are lucky with air travel we can see each other easily. Chin up I know it sounds impossible but your feelings will improve. flowers to cheer you.

absentgrana Sat 14-Jul-12 16:36:53

tanith The process of being a parent – perhaps particularly a mother – is, right from the word go, to bring them up to leave you. If you teach them to fly, you may not clip their wings. Some will go a long way away geographically, but still remain close; some will live nearby but have separate lives. Some will combine all sorts of things. I both love and hate the fact that my daughter and grandchildren live the other side of the world; they have a fabulous life and one much better than they could ever have had here. However, I have missed so much of it. I am going to emigrate (it has taken forever to get the visa) and I am looking forward to doing so – but how nervous and anxious I am, and also excited. Embarking on a whole new life at my age is both thrilling and terrifying.

You have not been abandoned – your son has simply chosen to live his life elsewhere. You were, obviously, a mum who could cut the apron strings and let him go. He hasn't stopped loving you or forgotten where he came from. You gave him his independence and strength to build whatever life he wanted – how good is that? Wait and see what delights are in store.

Butternut Sat 14-Jul-12 16:38:21

Oh tanith - It is hard, very, and feel your sadness keenly. I don't live anywhere near either of my sons, or grandchildren, and still have days when I feel completely out of the loop. Sometimes I just want to jump up and down and shout at them " Hey! Remember me? "
I've no advice to give - except to say that you will get these sad days, but they do pass in time, and will come and go. Here's a bug hug!

One thing I always do is to email/send cards/letters, even when there's little response at times. As long as I know they are well and happy I am able, on the whole, to remain positive.

Butternut Sat 14-Jul-12 16:39:39

bug hug? BIG hug!

gracesmum Sat 14-Jul-12 16:40:44

Can I be brutal? This is meant with love, but stop and think:
1) he is alive, happy and healthy
2) The world is no longer a big place - and if the "usual invitations" have been extended it is up to you to accept and go to visit
3) from what you say about your daughters being near, I suspect you could feel just as lost if he lived at the other end of the country where he would also no longer be part of your everyday life in the way your DDs are
4) boys/men are notoriously bad about communicating - you need to get to know his new girlfriend, welcome her into your famiy and she will make sure contact is maintained
5) however hard it is to accept, once our children grow up we no longer feature in their lives in the way we did when they were children, something I came to terms with when ours went to university, but if you try to hang on too tightly, the only way is away
Many parents have sons and daughters on the other side of the world and I can imagine how heartbreaking that must be, but our children have to make their own way in the world and if that is abroad, so be it. My Mum came to this country in 1947 not knowing whether she would ever see her parents again - it was a risk she was prepared to take, but how must they have felt?
I can also just remember the stiff upper lips giving way when they and I waved my sister, BIL and their 3 tiny children off to Canada in the 60's.
I hope you can see that geographical distance is not the issue it used to be and if you are fit to travel, you must go to them and not wait for them to come to you.
(Here endeth the lesson!!)

jeni Sat 14-Jul-12 16:44:23

Thanks be to ----grin

gracesmum Sat 14-Jul-12 16:48:40


AlisonMA Sat 14-Jul-12 16:57:43

I do agree with the others that you need to go and visit and make friends with the girlfriend. When you go keep things light and don't put pressure on them so they will want to come back and visit you.

DS2 went to study in Switzerland at the age of 17 and then at 19 went to work in Germany for a year. Ever since then his home has been in The Netherlands. When he stopped dancing he went to study in Germany, leaving his girlfriend at their home in Arnhem. Although offered good jobs elsewhere he loves Holland so much that he got a job in Amsterdam and now they are married and living just outside Ams. We go often and they come here. We know they will never come to live in the UK but we are all still close emotionally. They email a lot and we skype most weekends if we are all available but they don't feel they have to.

DS1 lives 3 1/2 hours away with his wife and 2 GSs so that is something we have to accept too. They refuse to have skype on their Mac for some reason so it is mostly emails with the occassional phone call. We just have to accept this and get on with our own lives without depending upon them. You wouldn't want them to depend on you and if you seem to be needy I think that will frighten them away.

tanith Sat 14-Jul-12 17:03:48

Thanks everyone you've made me smile and cry.. I know I'm being ridiculous its only bloody Gibralter by the way, I just can't help being so sad

He went 2yrs ago but he was then working for a UK firm and travelled back here regularly for meetings etc, but he's now just taken a job with a company that won't require he comes back and forth. His partner is a Gibraltarian and looks like a lovely girl we have made contact through facebook as have my daughters although we haven't met her yet she seems very caring and nice... I did go visit about a year ago, before they met which was great and I'm sure I'll do it again in a few months when their place is livable. Gracesmum what you say about men being such poor communicators is so true.. its like pulling teeth if I ask him a question and that makes phone calls difficult..

I'll read through all your posts again and I'm sure I'll glean some useful tips.. my youngest granddaughter said to me the other day why does Uncle S.. keep going away? he'd been home for a family wedding , I couldn't bring myself to answer her without a huge lump in my throat.. I've asked myself the same question but if the truth be know I know the answer is for a better life and what more could I really wish for him...

gracesmum Sat 14-Jul-12 17:09:23

I think it is the birthday which has brought these feelings to the surface! Look at it another way, how much worse to have children who may live less than an hour away but can't find the time for their parents (and that happens).
If you have always been a close knit family it must seem bad to you, but my parents lived in Scotland, I moved to London, my sister was in Canada, one BIL and his D are in Singapore and another niece is in Brazil. So nice as it would have been to all live round the corner, it was never going to happen.
You need to start clocking up those airmiles, dusting down your passport and looking out the factor 50!

Grandmanorm Sat 14-Jul-12 17:09:25

Tanith I do know how you feel as our three all live abroad, one in Australia and two in USA, that means all 8 grandchildren are very far away. Daughter and family went two years ago, sons and family over 10 years ago.
I admit I miss them very much, but, they are happy, employed, healthy and living a good life, and for us that is all we could wish for them.
I have written this before, sorry!!
However, I think the plus side is that you gave your son the strength to go abroad and work.
We all find the iPhone much easier than Skype and much cheaper also, apart from the initial outlay.
We speak to our sons every week and our daughter almost every day.
I am sending you a big hug through the ether :-)

AlisonMA Sat 14-Jul-12 17:21:09

grandmanorm sorry but nothing is cheaper than skype, it is free! Yes, you can pay to phone by skype but no one ever does, we just log on, call them and then chat away face to face.

jack Sat 14-Jul-12 17:29:34

Our son is also 35 and although he lives locally at the moment we very rarely see him as he has an extremely demanding job which takes him all over the country. He also has a passion for golf and a passion for his Thai girlfriend. He phones once or twice a fortnight but that's about it.

Our main concern is for his health and happiness and as long as he maintains contact I feel we must be content with that. It is possible he will go to live in Thailand at some stage and we are braced for this, though we would miss him dreadfully.

I know so many people who have children and grandchildren abroad and despite the sadness it sometimes causes they do seem to accept their children's choices.

Dear tanith. I'm sure we all know it's hard to let go, but the alternative would not be healthy. Who wants a grown-up man tugging at our apron strings all the time? I certainly wouldn't. Young men are programmed to conquer the world, so you should be proud of your son and respect his choices.

Cheer up and get on with your own life. You have done your bit for your son. Now you can do something for yourself - have fun! smile

soop Sat 14-Jul-12 17:41:00

tanith I'm sending you ((hugs))...we're here for you. flowers

Grannylin Sat 14-Jul-12 17:57:13

I -Phone /Pad FaceTime is free and clearer than Skype!I think tanithif the weather stays like this you'll be laughing with a son in Gibralter to visit grin

greenmossgiel Sat 14-Jul-12 18:35:52

tanith, lots of wise words have been spoken here and I have none to add. My family are all here, apart from my granddaughter who's working in France just now. They are unlikely to move abroad to work or live, but I can imagine how I would feel if they did! I know I would feel just as you do. Your son is happy though, and doing all the things that he wants to - the things he may not have been able to do here.
You're in touch with each other, even thought he may not contact you as often as you'd like! There are so many on here who haven't got the joy of any contact at all. Here's a warm arm around your shoulder from me. Your lad loves you, y'know! flowers

Greatnan Sat 14-Jul-12 18:43:21

Do you know The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran? It says everything there is to say about loving your children and letting them go.
I know my daughter and her family in New Zealand are extremely happy, and that makes me happy too. We speak frequently on the phone (free, via internet) and exchange messages on Facebook. I have made two long visits and will be off again next Spring. In a few years, I will join them. She had to make the decision to leave three of her adult children and her two grandchildren in England, but she had to do what was best for her husband and the three children who went with them. I supported them completely and thought it was very selfish of her husband's family to try to use emotional blackmail to stop them going.

glammanana Sat 14-Jul-12 19:22:59

tanith when mr.g. and I moved abroad after taking early retirement I was convinced that I would not miss my boys at all the reason being that they are both military and they where in different parts of the world at different times,one in Germany then one in Irag then both in Afganistan,DD was living in Portugal with her partner and two children at the time,but for some reason I missed the boys more than I missed DD,you can be proud of the fact that you have raised him to be self relient and confident to carry on with his life in another country and to build his life there so well done to you,you will always miss him but it does get easier,simple for me to say that as both my boys relationships did not work out and the now live 10mins away from me as does DD and ((hugs))

tanith Sat 14-Jul-12 19:26:30

Thankyou all for your sincere and wise words... I am trying, but as gracesmum says it was his birthday coming and going and not sharing that with him and his siblings and nieces and nephews, they all miss him too. We used to do a big family get together BBQ as we have lots of July birthdays but what with the weather as well we just haven't bothered this year.. maybe this Summer or lack of it is getting me down too...
I've read all your stories and realise that my problem is tiny compared with what some of you have dealt with... I guess I've learnt I'll live and get over this 'hump', its just taking me time... I am happy that he is a confidant , successful in his field, and has met someone who is mending his previously broken heart.. he's learning Spanish and immersing himself in the different culture and lifestyle... he's very happy living near the sea too.. onwards and upwards

tanith Sat 14-Jul-12 19:27:09

Greatnan I'm going to google The Prophet now and read.. thankyou

whenim64 Sat 14-Jul-12 19:29:06

The Prophet is a beautiful book. My first social work supervisor gave it to me when I was training smile

i still have it today.

HildaW Sat 14-Jul-12 19:41:53

tannith..........not ridiculous at all. We all feel the pain of our children moving away from us either geographically or emotionally. flowers