The most horrible thought occurred to me recently.

Norman Bates (from Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho) earned his reputation as a supremely evil villain, but what about his mother? Suffocating him with her desperate, clingy, warped version of love, it’s no wonder Norman went psycho.

That’s when the horrible thought hit me…

I’m starting to relate to Mrs. Bates and her fears of losing Norman, but even worse, it’s quite possible I’m becoming her!  Horrors!

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How do I survive my children leaving?

As best I can figure it, my metamorphosis began in the milk aisle of the grocery store.

Bobby at Montreat
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Bobby in Montreat, NC

The expiration date showed that before the jug of milk in my hand turned sour, our college-bound son would be gone.

Unprepared for the pain of letting him go, I cried right there in the dairy section over the milk, spilled or not.

I cried over…no more leisurely talks at the kitchen counter. No more, “Hey, wanna grab a bite to eat?”

Now…just wait for the phone to ring. Wait for a text message. Stalk him on Facebook. Has anyone posted a new photo of him? I wonder if he’s on-line? I wonder if he misses me?


Britt @ Lake Hartwell sunset
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Brittany in Clemson, SC

Our second child left for college. Another child to miss and stalk. Is she happy? What did she do today? I wonder if she’ll call me? I wonder if she misses me?

And now…

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Carolyn setting off with a friend in Switzerland

Our third child’s entering her junior year in high school, but I’m pretty sure she’s covertly packing for college. I think she’s planning to abandon me every weekend this year to go visit her sister.

Wait…did I just say “abandon me?” Ugh!

As I pondered these dark feelings, déjà vu hit me. I’d felt this exact way before, but where? Oh, wait…I remember…

Back in high school when my boyfriend broke up with me because he’d found someone new.

He didn’t hate me. He was just ready to move on. He liked someone else now. “But, hey, we’ll still be friends,” he said.

He went off happy, and I sat at home brokenhearted. Does he miss me? Will he call? Is he happy? If we’d had Facebook, I’d have stalked him day and night.

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When the storms of life come, God is there.

The aching, empty feeling of still being in love, but knowing I’d been replaced, tore me up.  

With my two oldest children happily settled into their dorm rooms, the “But, hey, we’ll still be friends” sensation descended on me.


My son – the one who used to wrap his arms around me when he was two years old, declaring, “I’ll neber, eber let you go,” – mentioned recently that he couldn’t live here in Lexington again because he loves the mountains too much.

He used to love me too much.

Eleven years ago my oldest daughter broke out of her second grade classroom and sprinted towards the front door of the school in hot pursuit of Larry and I, determined to keep us from going away for the weekend. This same child joyfully announced recently, “I think I’d like to move to France.”

She says she misses second grade. After her last announcement, I do, too!

I know they still love me dearly – I see it in their eyes and hear it in their words — but how can they leave me??!

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Don’t turn into Mrs. Bates

They can’t leave me! I have to stop them!  

And that, my friends, is where Mrs. Bates are born from.

Horror of Horrors!

I refuse to become a Mrs. Bates!!

“Lord, You’ve got to show me how to navigate this agonizing season of life!… 

       If You don’t, I can’t!… If You don’t, I’m going to morph into a character from a horror film.”

Then God answered me…

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8

“Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” ~ I Peter 5:7

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” ~ Psalm 23:1

“In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for your life.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:18

“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” ~ Isaiah 43:19

In other words:

“Cast all your cares on Me, Jean…especially your neurotic Mrs. Bates anxieties. There’s nothing I can’t handle, and through Me and My power, you can handle this, too. Your children must grow and go. Believe Me, we’d be having a whole other talk if they were refusing to grow up and become adults with separate lives.”

“Too true, God! Thanks for that perspective!”

Ocean in Costa Rica - Version 2
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God, the Creator of the universe, goes with you.

“Jean, I’m the Good Shepherd. I know what My sheep need, and I always provide for them. I’ll always provide for you. Always. What you’re going through is My will for you. I’m doing something new in their lives; but I’m also doing something new in yours. This is the building material from which I will make roadways in your wilderness and rivers in your desert.

“God, if I can love my life without my children right by my side, that will be more than a river in the desert – that will be the whole ocean.” 

“Jean, I am The Great I AM. I AM everything you will ever need for every moment of every day.”

“Yes, God, You are! When they’re gone, You remain. When I feel empty, You fill me to overflowing. You’re My Great Shepherd, and I shall not want. This is not the end. This is a new beginning for all of us together. If You’re in this, God…and You are…then I have nothing to fear. In You is fullness of joy!”

And that, my friends, is how I don’t just survive my children leaving for college, France, or wherever, but I actually thrive.

Family Mom's Day 2013
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No matter how far apart we may live, we will always be family.

Goodbye Mrs. Bates!  Welcome back Joy…and Sanity!

What has your experience been? Please share a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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