The other day, my son Adam was leaving for his weekend job, and I had that same old feeling of sadness wash over me. I’m realizing that my time with Adam is running out. Very soon, he will graduate from Mayo High School, and shortly after graduation, he will be leaving the nest to go on to college with an athletic scholarship to play football in Minot, ND. I know that as a parent, the plan all along is that you raise your children to the best of your ability, hoping they become productive citizens and make their own destiny. However, I thought it would be a long time before that occurred—unfortunately, that time is now. It seems like yesterday I was watching all his favorite cartoons with him and picking him up from elementary school.

I’m truly going to miss everything about him, like him foraging through the groceries for his favorite foods and trying to hide them away from Ethan. I love the way he laughs when he’s amused, and how loud he is when he comes into a room—he’s like a bull in a China shop, always crashing into things. I love talking to him about the challenges he faces in life, which are quite amusing most of the time. However, I won’t miss how expensive his tastes can be, whether it’s his clothes or his Nike shoe habit. I won’t miss him constantly fighting with his younger brother, Ethan, over who gets to get up first to shower so they can get more sleep in the morning. Adam definitely is more bossy and feels entitled because he’s older, so Ethan usually loses.

As a mother, I couldn’t be more proud of him. He has earned everything that he has received by his passion and drive to succeed and honor his gift.

I look at his cap and gown hanging in his room, and it makes me proud that despite being a busy athlete, he gets good grades. As proud as I am of him, I keep thinking how lonely it will be without him living at home. Will I ever stop crying when I make that journey to Minot to check him into football camp? The reality of him being 9 hours away has hit me hard because it’s not like I can quickly make the trip to see him if he needs anything. It will take planning on my part every time I want to visit.

Adam is planning to major in Geology, minor in Biology, and get his Master’s degree in Hydrology. He’s always been an outdoors kind of boy and is not comfortable wearing a suit and being stuck inside.

I thank my higher power today and every day for instilling the safeguards that I need to live life on life terms because the Sherry of the past would have used any excuse to drink and justify it. I know that I can never go back to that life again. My sons have already seen 4 years of me putting in the least amount of effort to be involved in their life because of my drinking. I drank to numb the pain of other issues such as the abuse I endured as a child, being sexually abused, battling an eating disorder, being bullied growing up, etc… things I should have dealt with earlier in my life, but my drinking came before them.

I’m so blessed that I have 6 years and 4 months of continuous sobriety and the gift my boys gave me: their forgiveness. However, I know that they will always have some resentments, and I need to always remember the pain I caused them. Although, I have quite a few 24 hours under my belt, I know that I’m still always a drink away if I don’t put my sobriety first.

So even though I will cry tears of joy when my son finally leaves, I will be proud and embrace that, for the most part, I helped raise a wonderful son who is on his way to becoming an amazing man. It just doesn’t get any better than that, so for that, I’m truly blessed!

Update – March 1, 2021: Sherry has adjusted to her empty-nest and cherishes any time that she has with her sons when they’re home.

About the Author:


Sherry Irvin is a woman living in long-term recovery and has been continuously sober for 9 years. She has two sons, 21 and 18, both attending college. A writer and podcaster, Sherry works with women who have developmental disabilities.

1 Comment
  1. Kelly Domaille 3 years ago

    Love this Sherry as I remember when I was exactly where you were a few years back. It seems like there will be a hole that can’t be filled when they leave. What I realized and am so thankful for is that we raise our children to be strong adults…when my daughter left for college she matured so quickly and our relationship is still parent-child but also friends now. We talk more than we ever did when she was home and it is a AMAZING! Hang in there Momma…it will be different but better!

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