Walking Two Moons in Another Man’s Moccasins

My eldest son flew off to Australia yesterday and it’s not clear how long he’s going to be away for. Even though we knew it was coming, his departure date seemed to suddenly creep upon us without any warning.

As we said our goodbyes as the coach station, I could feel one door closing and another one opening. A chapter of our lives had just ended and a new one begun. It was one of those moments that was almost unbearably uncomfortable and painful but at the same time it was accompanied by a feeling of great inevitability and the knowledge that life was showing us all the way towards greater growth and understanding.

My heart ached and I knew that my son was happy and excited and so I stood there and watched him go. And when we got home I went to my room and cried even more.

Over the past 24 hours so many thoughts have gone through my head and I have received many valuable insights surrounding the whole issue of fledglings spreading their wings and leaving the nest.

But one of the biggest moments came when I thought of how it was when I packed up and left home to move to Germany many moons ago.

My Dad encouraged me and helped me to get things ready. I never once saw a look of disapproval on his face. Nor did I hear any remarks that might have made me hesitate and feel guilty. I was supported all the way. No tears, only words of encouragement. And I was seen off at the coach station. I was the one who cried and got very emotional. In return I got smiles and hugs.

And off I went.

I now know how my Dad must have felt inside. It must have been gut-wrenching for him to say goodbye to the last of his three children, especially as I was going abroad. It turned out to be for 18 years with me returning just after he died.

And yet he never let me know how he felt inside. This let me go in peace. It enabled me to take the next step and venture out into my life.

I’m walking now in my Dad’s moccasins and seeing now how much he really loved me. I love my son for giving me this opportunity. And I love my Dad for his gift to me.

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54 Responses to Walking Two Moons in Another Man’s Moccasins

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Fiona. It sounds as though this has truly been a bitter sweet experience. What a wonderful gift to gain a better understand of your father too – I hear that you have given your son the same gift your father gave you. That’s precious indeed.

  2. I could tell by your Facebook post this weekend that you were very sad & emotional. I can only imagine the feelings of love for your son and the sadness, too battling each other inside of you. How difficult to be a supportive parent sometimes! I am glad you wrote about it. I know how relieve I feel sometimes after documenting something very emotional. I am happy that you shared the story about your father. That gives your tale about your son even more meaning and importance for you. In this day and age of the internet, I hope you two communicate and “stay in touch” even though he is far away right now.

  3. Grace Kelly says:

    wow that is powerful Fiona,
    Likewise My Dad supported my departure from driving me to Uni which was not so far from home but then eventually getting me on a plane to leave the country all together, it seemed to e he was full of excitement for me to be off getting experience and degrees, I thought it strange, did he want rid of me why no sadness……thanks to your post I can see now perhaps it was the only way he could do it, being the baby and the only girl cannot have not impacted him!
    Thanks so much for your honesty here.
    I remind you of the full moon in Scorpio until Wednesday things will roll be intense and hard, Wed optimism will return.
    With you and here for you,
    Grace xx
    http://www.citygirlconfidence.com

  4. Ingrid Thomson says:

    Fiona that was powerful. I’m sittin here with tears running down my face. I felt Dads presence beside me as I read. In his last year of good health, we enjoyed our holidays in Kiel with you all. Looking back and remembering all the holidays in Kiel. We weren’t there for Petes starting school but was for Chris. It is hard to say good bye to a loved one. I know Dad would of been proud of what you have achieved over the years, as he was proud of you when he was here. I feel his presence in the house some of the time and for a brief second think he is still living. Thank you. For those that don’t know me, I married Fionas Dad in 1973 and had 26 1/2 years of happy marriage. Love to you all.

  5. My parents were so wonderful about “sending me off” into my adventures in life. They never expected me to stick close to home or to stay with them. This was so important to me, as I was very sensitive to their needs and probably would have hesitated to travel or move to other parts of the country if I thought they were too sad.

    Although I don’t have children with whom to have this experience, I have tried to communicate the same encouragement and confidence in my nephews, both of whom have traveled or move in all sorts of ways around the globe. Your son is lucky you are so thoughtful and reflective, and YOU are lucky to be going through this with such awareness and deep emotion.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    My cat owns me, my clutter stymies me, my writing frees me. Word maven loves—and learns from—ordinary life.
    http://www.thereflectivewriter.com/blog/

  6. Joan Autry says:

    Fiona, I was so touched by your story! I do not have children of my own, but I think of my mother and all she did to support my growth, particularly when I left for college. I was away from her for many years, and I only remember her excitement for me at all the new experiences and people yet to come. Reading this, I now know how torn she must have felt, but never let it show. Moms are amazing and wonderful and as the years pass, I love my mom more and more for what she has done for me! I know your son will feel the same!

  7. My dear Fiona,

    I totally feel with you!
    I remember back in 1996 when I left my parents to move to the Lake of Constance where I lived for three years. My Mom told me that my Dad went to my empty room every night to touch my pillow. When I left for New Orleans in 1999, it was me who cried her eyes out at the train station because my parents stood there waving and smiling. She told me later that she wanted me to be happy but she felt terrible inside.

    Letting go is so hard but you raised your son an independent young man who has dreams and goals and now that he is leaving for the big world out there to an unknown place to create is future, is something you can be very proud of. You gave him all the tools that he can now use.
    All my hugs to you, you’re a wonderful Mom,

    Franziska San Pedro
    The Abstract Impressionist Artress

  8. Fiona – My children are six. It’s hard for me to drop them off at a playdate, but I know I must for their sake. It’s my job to ensure that they travel this road in life safely and happily. You did the best you could. He left happy and feeling supported. You are an amazing woman!
    Debbie

  9. Thank you, Fiona, for a poignant tribute to a rite of passage that every parent must pass through. I so relate. When my husband and I took our firstborn to college in Oregon, I cried most of the way home to California. Such a visceral experience of a page turning and life shifting. And when my younger son took off on a self-created journey–on foot– without knowing when i would hear from him or when he would return, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done to let him go. And yet, I found – peace in knowing it was his to do–following his inner guidance. These are the things we don’t think about when we choose to have children and yet, they are the very things that give us opportunity to find our own strength and deepen our trust in them, as you expressed.

  10. So are you now an “empty nester” Fiona? It sounds as though you have gone through a lot of Kleenex since your son left home. Know that soon you be become excited about what the future holds and discovering “what is next”.

    Rachel Lavern
    Personal Transformation, Enlightenment and Development Coach
    “Live without limits because nothing is impossible to you.”

  11. Your experience with your son has brought back memories of my parents dropping me at the airport to fly off to Canada for a year – I went back 5 years later! I could see they were choked up but they were equally as supportive and did nothing to make me feel guilty. Now the whole thing was different when we left as a family to emigrate to Australia and took the Grandkids away from my mum… I hope to take the supportive route when mine fly the nest as I KNOW we’ve given at least the eldest the same wonder lust we have. Thanks for sharing Fiona – very touching (and this was the make me cry post this week – always one lol)
    Louise Edington
    Fearless Over Fifty
    http://louiseedington.com

  12. Awwww… this made me tear up! I will not be able to handle when my daughter goes of to college/traveling…
    Thanks for sharing a beautiful recollection and showing that it’s truly a “circle of life.”

  13. What a beautiful post…when my oldest daughter went off to her first school overnight I was hit by a picture of her going off to travel Europe like I did after college…I compared the angst I was feeling for this short chaperoned trip to what I was likely to feel when she traveled alone like I did…I immediately felt an amazing sense of appreciation for my mom and the worry I must have caused her but never sensed in her voice or saw on her face…

    Darcie Newton
    Wine not whine.
    More nature than nurture.
    Discipline for profit, none for triple creme brie.
    http://www.mywealthspa.com

  14. I just feel so much love for you right now. That was a beautiful post and it warms my heart. Thank you. I know one day I will encounter this with my child and I will always remember your words.

    Alara K. Castell
    Your Sassy Spiritual Guide

  15. Donna McCord says:

    Dear Fiona, I can so relate to what you are writing about here…I have sent Taylor off on three different times (once to Kenya, once to Nepal and once to Italy) and each time it was difficult, even though I knew she was returning home…it was still anxiety provoking! But fortunately I was able to be encouraging and excited and happy for her…now that she is graduating from college she will be setting up her own place down in Los Angeles, which is not as far away as Australia, but still means she is not my little girl living at home anymore. Will your son be coming back home or will this be his permanent place of residence now? How wonderful that your father was able to watch you leave home without burdening you with feelings of doubt or guilt, and now you are able to do the same with your son. As parents it is difficult to become empty nesters, but that is really what it’s all about, right? Watching our children grow and become amazing and capable and independent adults. The beautiful truth is that even when we are separated geographically we are still connected in our hearts and our spirits. I pray that you will hear from your son often and that he will desire to share his adventures with you along the way.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Thanks so much Donna. And thank you for sharing how things were for you. Pete is planning to be away for a year with the option to extending for another year. And who knows where the wind will blow him. xx

  16. Pat Zahn says:

    Fiona – my daughter has one more year before heading to college, so this post forces me to think about things I’m not ready for. How torn you must feel – proud that you’ve done your job as a parent and created a competent, independent young man ready to go off into the world, but feeling that “heart-squeeze” of your baby going off and out of your protective reach. I hope you can feel my caring presence from across the ocean giving you a big hug.

  17. Lisa Valero says:

    Beautiful Fiona!
    The heart of it is in your last paragraph – your father gave you this wonderufl gift, your son gave you the gift of this opportunity. And your have given your son the gift your father gave you!
    Love – at the center of everything.
    Warm hugs in this milestone {{{♥}}}

  18. Thank you for sharing this, Fiona – beautifully written! I’m so glad that right now I can grab my 8 year old and squeeze her and hug her and she loves it. I know the day will come when off she’ll go…Right now she thinks we’ll always be together and it is very sweet. Of course, she also thinks I’m going to go on crazy wild animal rescue adventures with her and that’s not going to happen – lol! 🙂
    Brandy Mychals
    Speaker, Author, Communications Coach
    Creator of the Character Code System

  19. It is lovely to read your journey and how open-heartedly you share it Fiona. It reminds me of the times when I was young and my father used to tell me I wouldn’t understand until I was a parent. He was so right as you so well wrote about here. It is with joy and sadness that we watch our children leave the nest. Joy as they enter the next stage of their lives and sadness (for us) as they leave. A new relationship emerges, a new stage begins.

    Susan Berland
    A Picture’s Worth
    http://www.susan-berland.com

  20. I;m not a parent, but I know how hard goodbyes are! It must be rough for parents. But leaving the nest is such an important part of our growth as humans. Good for the ones that can let go and allow their kids to go into the world with happy blessings!

  21. Wow Fiona…we are on the same page this week…you have to check out my blog that I posted this week about going away to college! However, I thought my mom was not sad, she like your dad was all smiles and positive as I got on the plane……I too was the one crying. THANKS for showing me the otherside….I have to believe my mom was feeling it to….but never wanted to show it or have it affect me….or what I was doing. Love the one door closing and another opening……that is life! Hugs my dear as you begin a new journey. Your a wonderful mom:) I will rememeber these words as I send mine off one day. Thank you!

    Rita Brennan Freay
    @Rita4kids
    ritabrennanfreay.com

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Thanks so much Rita and yes, of course I’ll read your blog. Glad to have shared the bigger picture. x

  22. Fiona you had me tearing up. What an incredible gift you have given each other. And what an amazing way to remember your dad. I too flew the nest early and often. My parents have suffered from the distance of oceans and land that separate us, as I have. My daughter has been denied the richness of growing up surrounded by her family, especially her grandparents, on both sides. Lonely for an only child. I salute your courage and your kindness. Hope I can do the same. Big hugs to an amazing mum!

    Jennifer Duchene
    Home Makeover Mixtress blending lifestyle laughter and Diva Dens
    http://LYShome.com

  23. Yvonne Hall says:

    I’m a crier. Crying right now. My life it at a different place than yours — yet somehow the same. My eldest daughter will begin Kindergarten in the fall. She is so excited. And I’m excited for her. But just the thought of leaving her at the gate of kindergarten to start her new era in life — I’m already crying again!!! But that is what this is all about isn’t it, preparing them for all they can be and become through encouragement and support and unconditional love to spread their wings at each new junction in their lives.
    Thanks for sharing (even though you made me cry)
    Yvonne Hall
    http://www.yvonneelmhall.wordpress.com

  24. Julie Labes says:

    Fiona I cannot believe how much our lives have been and will be similar. I went through exactly the same thing with my Dad when I first left home in 1984. I did not know at the time i would never go home again. Like you, he died while I was overseas.

    This fall my son will go off to college and to his new life and i will have to also let go and smile and wish him well while my heart breaks. A task I am not looking forward to but i know it’s what i must do. just like my dad did with me all those years ago.

    Thanks for sharing, Its good to know that others are going through what you are (or will have to in a few short months)

  25. Hi Fiona,
    Thanks for this beautiful story. I’m sure you understand this much more deeply than I do, with all your thoughts about wheels and cycles, but it’s clear even to me that EVERYTHING represents both a beginning and an ending, an opening and a closing. Wherever we have sorrow, we also have joy. You present this duality so well in today’s post.
    Robbie

  26. So beautifully written and a lovely story of full circles of completion.
    Your son is so lucky to have you as his supportive mom allowing for him
    to spread his wings and go upon his path :–) Karen~

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Karen, welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting. I’m glad you liked this post. Life certainly is one big classroom isn’t it?

  27. SheilaThorpe says:

    I’m reading this with tears in my eyes from a piece that was written straight from the heart.
    Knowing that this will be happening to me one day…but also knowing that I do want it to happen even though it will be touched with sadness. I want my children to know that there is a world out there and for them to have the confidence to go explore.
    As parents we are the ones that can give them that confidence to go, as your Dad did for you. It’s the best thing we can give them and it’s something others can’t take away from them easily.
    Thanks Fiona.. very moving.

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