I'm a single mum whose only son is off to uni

(77 Posts)
Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 18:57:59

This is my first time here in my 18 years as a single mum. I'm really struggling to cope with the current situation. My only DS has done himself (and me) proud and is off to Oxford on 2nd October. He's a confident, capable young man who, I think, is a credit to me. Bringing him up with no input from his father has been the most difficult, yet most amazing, thing I've ever done. My problem is this. He is saying he doesn't want my input at all now. I am not party (quite rightly) to communication from Oxford and he is telling me nothing. He feels that he now has to prove he can be independent of me and doesn't want me to help him prepare in any way. He has even said he wants to travel down on the train without me taking him. I don't think I've been an overbearing mum so am hurt by his complete rejection of me at this stage, when we have always enjoyed a close and warm mother-son relationship. I am deeply aware of the need to put his needs before mine, but can see that my hurt is all the more acute for being alone once he goes. I feel that other parents (couples) are surely being allowed to help their sons and daughters with this leap to independence. I've always encouraged him to be independent but now I feel this has backfired on me. Any advice on how to cope would be hugely welcome!

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nearlyemptynester Fri 26-Aug-16 19:15:07

Well done for him getting into Oxford!!! How proud you must be and a great credit to you as well. Please don't think it is you or your circumstances, DS (last of 3) went to Uni 4 years ago, did all the application/ arrangements / etc etc all by himself................. didn't include us at all. I can't tell you how I felt, but can feel for you and I spent a long time thinking that we weren't "good enough" to help him out or that we wouldn't have understood etc.
Mind you................ there will come a time when he needs your advice etc ...........just wait and see!!!!!! We still get random phone calls /texts re weird problems or the need for transporting furniture etc.

GasLightShining Fri 26-Aug-16 19:18:17

Does he think that is what everyone is doing? I know there are people on here that thing that at 18 you should left to it and you certainly should not be taking your DC to university but I disagree.

My DS has no intention of making life difficult for himself by going on the train when he has mum and dad's taxi service. In all honesty if he could take his car we would have packed that up and waved him off.

He has also forwarded all the e-mails. Before signing the Licence Agreement for the accommodation he asked me to read it through. Not sure if that makes him the other end of the scale by sharing too much.

I would feel exactly like you in your circumstances. I don't know what to advise but well done to him for getting into Oxford and you have done a good job raising him.

Is he sorting out his own equipment?

AgentProvocateur Fri 26-Aug-16 19:23:32

Well done to you and him for getting to Oxford. My two are both at uni (locally, but living out) and my younger DS wanted to be totally independent when he went - arranged his removal when we were at work etc. That independence lasted for the first term, and now he's back to being as close as he ever was. I will warn you that the empty nest feeling is HORRIBLE and lasts for a long time. I think DH and I felt the loss for about eight months. I cried a lot for the first six weeks, and I'm generally a pragmatic upbeat person. You'll feel it badly as you'll be on your own when it goes. My only advice is find a friend in the same boat and cry on each other's shoulders. And be kind to yourself. If you feel like staying in bed all weekend with a bucket of wine, do it. Good luck b

Tarahumara Fri 26-Aug-16 19:31:19

My parents have me a lift to uni but not all parents did - I know DH got there under his own steam. Agree with a pp that he'll soon realise getting a lift from you is cheaper and more convenient! Just make sure he knows the offer is there, and then let him do it his way. I know you're feeling hurt, but really it's a great sign that he's smart and independent. Well done on getting him to this point flowers

Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 19:32:01

Thank you so much nearlyemptynester and GasLightShining - I didn't know if I'd get any replies. You know, I do think he thinks that is what everyone is doing - hadn't crossed my mind, but I think it might be at least partly the case. Things came to a head this evening when I asked if he needs to get contents insurance and he didn't know...he mentioned that he'd been looking at his finance situation but hadn't bothered to budget for food! I said he should (obviously) and he was so angry at my "interference". He said he just wanted to do it all himself. I do understand that need, but I was really upset (visibly). He knows I am and has come to find me, but I'm now trying to hide my tears to save face, as this really shouldn't be about me. To top it all, I'm 50 at the weekend and can't help but feel a little washed-up and wrung out.

Yes GasLightShining he is sorting out (or is planning to) all his equipment. He hasn't shared any info re what he needs to take and won't respond positively to my prompts at all.

I guess I need to sit and wait it out a little...

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Fadingmemory Fri 26-Aug-16 19:32:41

Try not to think of his attitude as a rejection but more of an indication that you have had a large part in his successful development as a mature and independent man. See if he will Skype you once a week at a time convenient for both of you. You now have more opportunitiez to pursue activities for yourself, whatever they may be.

When your DS has tasted independence he may love it or he may need some help. Either way, let him know you will help when required but don't push. The lonely feelings can be awful (been there) but you can cope, honestly.


SoItGoesSophieTrout Fri 26-Aug-16 19:35:17

Give him all the independence he desires - financially as well. He'll soon realise the big bad world ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 19:36:07

Aww your words are so lovely, AgentProvocateur and Tarahumara (sorry I don't know how to do the link thing to your usernames). Thank you so much. I don't know any other single mums, unfortunately, well, not ones without a partner. I am daunted by him moving out and the ensuing weeks/months, but this period beforehand, during which I pictured us planning/prepping together in a final flurry of mother/son togetherness, has completely thrown me.

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CatNip2 Fri 26-Aug-16 19:40:41

Oh love, I feel your pain, ds1 went four years ago and it was tough, when DD went too last September and I turned 50 not long after I felt my life was over. I still feel a bit lost but I am getting there. My advice is keep yourself busy, let him do it himself, trust me he will ring you after the novelty has worn off to ask how to steam frozen veg or know when chicken is cooked or perhaps just to hear your voice when his new mates are calling home.

He has achieved wonderful things, but not without you.

Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 19:45:50

I really like your suggestions Fadingmemory. I'm also wondering if he's not more than a little scared of being away from home and is puffing himself up to look as if he's "totally" up to it. I am going to allow him to lead on this, I think...all comments have been so helpful. Those things he wants to do for and by himself, he can do. Those things he comes to see he needs "help" with, then I'll be there. And I do need to see his assertion as positive - otherwise I'll crumble completely! I agree SoItGoesSophieTrout that he will work out sooner or later what he can and can't do for himself...at least in the first instance. Thanks so much guys...hearing your wise words has been a revelation to me xxx

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Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 19:47:39

CatNip2 That made me cry...big, fat but warm tears of joy, pride and sadness. Lovely words xxx

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nearlyemptynester Fri 26-Aug-16 19:52:02

I'm sure you will be required for LOTS of things ! Let him "enjoy" things and find things out.... how about you? can you try something new as well? may sound a bit naff, but may help.

senua Fri 26-Aug-16 20:05:51

He feels that he now has to prove he can be independent of me and doesn't want me to help him prepare in any way.

He's a clever lad; he must be able to see that there is a difference between can be independent and will be independent. Let him prove his independence to himself and the world and then, once he's got it out of his system, revert to the norm.

Please (try to) have words about independence. Independence from you is OK. Struggling with University work because he won't confide or ask for help is not OK. There is independence and there is self destruction pig-headedness; they are different things.

Hope he has a fab time. It's a big adventure.grin

Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 20:08:45

Nearlyemptynester I agree, and I have been looking forward to some "me" time after all these years. I'm just so shocked by his adamance. I've felt it as a rejection, but it's not...I can see that now. Last thing he needs is me being a silly moo right now...in his eyes, I hope I've always been a strong, resilient mum, so I need to keep up appearances, don't I? Love and thanks to you all...so very, very helpful in my hour of need/crisis of confidence xxx

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junebirthdaygirl Fri 26-Aug-16 20:12:42

I had just read stuff out to dh about all the dms on another thread flying around buying stuff and packing. I was feeling a bit guilty as our ds two years ago headed off with a friend who had a car and we hadn't even seen his accommodation. He was determined to be independent and we let him off. Flash forward to this summer and he got a local job for the summer so has been home every day chatting and filling the house with friends again and eating us out of house and home. This is not the end. Step back. Admire that great kid you have brought up. Tell him if he needs a hand with anything give you a shout. When he goes to Oxford ( very impressive) send him lots of light hearted messages even though you will get replies like " all grand " but the contact is vital.
I had a conversation with ds last week about a friend he is going abroad with for six months to college. I asked would friend have loads of money as ds wouldn't. He said no they're just like ye don't give him Lots but he always knows they're there. I was very happy with that.
Its a difficult time but an exciting one. Plan activities to fill the days ahead. You have done a great job and there is more to come.

nearlyemptynester Fri 26-Aug-16 20:12:46

It is not a rejection - I know how you are feeling .... you have given him the tools to be strong and independent- I have to keep telling myself that, and that we have done a good job !!! Love back to you too !! xxx

GasLightShining Fri 26-Aug-16 20:13:08

Happy birthday for this weekend.

I just googled the train fare for my DS and it was almost £40. Maybe your DS will change his mind when he sees the cost

Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 20:14:39

Thank you senua. I do detect a little pig-headedness in his attitude right now, and you're right that it is a risky strategy given the undoubtedly tough times ahead of him. That I think is an underlying concern of mine...that he will "cut off his nose to spite his face" as my mother used to say. I need to pick a good moment to talk about accessing support from someone as and when he needs it. Thank you again.

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waitingforwombat Fri 26-Aug-16 20:14:45

Good news is at Oxford he will be well "looked after" - college community, tutor group, good pastoral support, someone to clean his room, 3 meals a day. He won't get lost in the system and there will be people to help out. He will go into a furnished room in a catered hall - he doesn't need masses of stuff, and there is a handy Argos for anything he does need. Lots of grants etc available too. Also, terms only 8 weeks - he will be back at the end of November (completely knackered and in need of some tlc!!)

Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 20:20:32

Hi junebirthdaygirl. I must admit I logged on here to seek out others in a similar situation and all I could find were those threads with parents clearly managing to be closely involved in all the arrangements!! The exact opposite of my situation! Your experience since that time when your DS did it himself two years has been heartening to me. I really do need to give him the time and space to do what he needs to do, knowing I'm always there for him (well, as long as I haven't gone and got a life for myself!). Thanks so much x

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Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 20:24:12

Waitingforwombat You're utterly right, and I'd lost sight of that in my mini crisis this evening. Yes, he actually can't go far wrong in terms of what he needs and how he does it. I need to hang on to that thought! Thanks.

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waitingforwombat Fri 26-Aug-16 20:49:46

Things like insurance/bank accounts will be heavily pedalled at freshers fair. There are millions of meetings to get all the admin you need sorted, he will be automatically registered with a GP who will come to college and make sure all MMR/Meningitis imms sorted. Don't worry - he will be looked after!

hellsbells99 Fri 26-Aug-16 20:56:10

Well done to your DS Op.
My DD2 is also off to uni and I have also just had my 50th (and I feel old).
I offered to take her to IKEA shopping but she informs me that DD1 is taking her next week - I am redundant and surplus to requirements! Although she will be wanting money to go with. DD1 also tells me that she has written a list for DD2. DD1 is also starting as a fresher again this year as she has changed courses. I remember feeling lost when she left home last year but in reality they do return but as an adult.
I have decided to find myself a hobby and am going to learn to play a musical instrument.

Aliacrobat Fri 26-Aug-16 21:15:19

Thank you for that hellsbells99...I too feel redundant and old (perhaps the best précis of my original post there could be!).
Update: have had a warm bath and mulled over all your comments. Feel better and more positive. DS knocks on door to ask if I'm ok...feel strong enough to speak and said yes, sorry. Explained/bluffed a little with some stuff about hormones/menopause/reaching 50 and said that I just felt supersensitive to his rejecting my input earlier. He acknowledged that I've never been the interfering/controlling type but reiterated his need to do this himself. Encouraged by all that you lovely people have said, I took a deep breath (metaphorically) and said Of course you do, and that's fine. All was well. He then talked to me non-stop for 5 minutes about his student finance application and some practice problems he's doing for his course! Oh and he asked if being 50 and menopausal was a bit like being a teenager. Oh yes.

So much love for you wise and wonderful people on here xxx

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