Monday, March 21, 2011

The pain of leaving home for the first time

The pain that children understand a little too late

Bringing children is never an easy job as many parents will agree. Parents need to spend time, energy and money to provide all their needs. The most important need of a child is none other than love which is priceless but the most valuable. Parents in general are very generous in providing this love to their children. They must be aware that the more love they give the more difficult it would be for them to endure the suffering that comes on separating from them when the time comes.

If only children understand the true feelings of the parents towards them, there will not be many neglected parents at the twilight of their lives. The main problem is when the children grow up they tend to forget the memories of the past with their parents and other siblings. The past is a lesson for the present and future and if one remembers and cherishes the past he will invariably turn out to be a good person no matter what challenges that he may encounter in his life.

A friend of mine just returned after sending his only daughter to college. I was shocked at the state of mind he and his wife were. They were so sad that they could not carry on with their normal work as usual. They break down on and off when talking about their daughter whom they seem to visualise in whatever they do. Another friend is so upset his only daughter would soon be getting married and leave home to be with her husband in another state. My friends’ experiences bring to mind my own experiences of such partings.

Thirty seven years ago at the age of 19, when my late father sent me to the university it was an emotional and heart-breaking moment separating from him. I was very, very sad when he left me. I still remember the sad and agonising look on his face which made me cry. I knew he too was sad but I did not understand the extent of his sadness at that time as he managed to remain composed and put up a brave front. I knew the separation was temporary and was for a good cause but emotions are hard to control and only time could heal the pain and heartache. Now my father is not around anymore but the emotional scene of that first parting remains vividly in my mind, to remind me of his goodness.

Thirty years later a similar situation reminded of that parting. This time it was the when I sent my own daughter to college. This was when I really understood the true pain and agony that my late father underwent when he sent me to the university 38 years ago. It was no ordinary feeling imagining the child who was so dependant on you leaving for the first time to live all by herself.

Can she manage everything all by herself? Will she be safe being all alone in a strange environment? Can she cope with the problems that will crop up from time to time? Will she be comfortable in the new abode? These are some of the doubts that ran through my mind on leaving her on that happy but dreadful day 6 years ago. As usual only time helped to heal the pain in my heart.

Then came the second parting when my eldest son left for studies in a foreign country. It was indeed a troubling time to imagine he will be away in a foreign land all by himself. Can he manage it? What if falls sick and needs emergency surgery? Well we managed to cope and time helped to heal the pains of that separation as will.

Now I am in again for the next separation when younger son too will leave home to pursue his studies overseas. The same emotions of sadness, fear and anxiety are again being aroused which gives sleepless nights. The only reassurance is that he is going for a good course and time will definitely heal all the pain that it causes.

I only hope like how I understood the feelings of my father 30 years later, my children too would one day understand my feelings for them today. If they do then I would have succeeded in my role as a father and guide to them.

Looking around I realise that I am not alone as there are thousands of such parents who suffer in silence when their children leave home for the first time. In fact it seems to be the greatest fear of parents in their fifties and sixties. As parents we hope our children will understand the agonizing moments we undergo when they leave us for the first time. If they do then we would have succeeded in our roles as parents as then we would become a conscience in their hearts guiding them to differentiate good and bad.

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