My son is in Germany right now, on the German exchange. And the house feels pretty empty without him.
He set off in the middle of the night over a week ago. It took me ages to get back to sleep. He’s been on so many trips before (including a previous German exchange to the exact same family), but my mind kept wandering to various disasters involving the coach and the ferry.
It was Mother’s Day, and I was counting down the hours until he would arrive safely. The German boy’s dad sent me a photo on WhatsApp. They’d arrived dead on time. So I could stop worrying.
But it doesn’t stop me missing him. He’s the only child I drive to and from school every day. So I get that time to chat to him and he is also a big part of my routine every day. Without the school run, I felt a bit lost and the days felt too long.
There are times when his brother walks into a room and I think it’s him, before remembering that he isn’t here. That he hasn’t been here for over a week.
I’m used to him going away, but I feel like I’ve missed him more than usual this time. I’ve had very little work for the last few weeks and, if I’m not busy, I have more time to think and more time to miss him. To be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty low for the past week.
My son spends most of his time in his room when he’s at home, so you wouldn’t think I would notice his absence that much. But he pops downstairs regularly (usually to get something out of the cupboard to eat) and is always there for meal times. He will sometimes watch something on telly with us, especially a crime drama, and will often go for a walk with my husband and I in the evening. If my husband pops out somewhere in the car, my son usually chooses to go with him. He is good company for us both.
There is more bread and biscuits in the cupboard and a lot less washing. With his endless muddy rugby and football kit, my son is the main cause of washing in our house. In that sense, life is easier without him. But only in that sense. And I still need to parent him from hundreds of miles away.
He texted me on the first morning to say he’d left his coat on the bus. This is such standard behaviour for him. I’d questioned whether it was worth even sending him with a coat in April, because I knew he would lose it somewhere. And even when he’s hundreds of miles away, he relies on me to sort out his messes for him. I rang the bus company, but they weren’t much help. Luckily the coat reappeared the following day – his teacher had picked it up before the bus went back to England.
I know he will be having the best time in Germany as he and the German boy get on so well together. In the scheme of things, me missing him doesn’t matter. It is far more important that he gets this amazing experience.
All of my kids have been away many times before on Scout camps, exchanges and school residentials. It gets easier as they get older and the more times they do it. But I still miss them.
My boy will be home from the German exchange tomorrow evening and I can’t wait to see him.