Coping when your teen leaves for college

My world just shifted. I took my daughter to college hundreds of miles away from home.

The reality of this life event is something for which a parent never can fully prepare. It is bittersweet realization: I have one less child to cook for, one less lunch to pack for school and one less schedule of activities to coordinate.

As I kissed my daughter goodbye, I reminisced about the night I got stuck working really late at the office and cried because my babysitter had put her to bed before I had returned home. I felt guilty and crushed that I had missed an entire day of my infant’s young life. If only I knew then that work life balance was less about one day and more about the next 18 years.

The truth is I enjoy the chaos that has ruled my life as I have juggled writing deadlines with chauffeuring her to soccer practice, sleepovers and movies with friends. It was through that chaos that I built a bond with her that will only strengthen as it evolves.

Now, I face a new reality: My daughter becoming independent doesn’t just mean that I suddenly have more free time. It means that my entire home life has changed in ways I had not anticipated. Walking past her quiet bedroom, I miss her and know it is  going to be a tough adjustment for me. But watching her explore her passions in life is going to be exciting. She already sounds happy, meeting new friends and exercising her independence.

With two children still at home, I am savoring the daily chores that I used to consider annoyances. I am packing lunches with a new appreciation and giving homework help with more enthusiasm. Suddenly, I see a future where my mom duties less needed. It’s scary. I’m not sure I will ever be prepared for that life transition. For now, I’m trying my best to shake off the feeling that my chest is a bit heavier and my house a bit emptier.



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1 Comment

  1. TRL October 1, 2014 at 12:34 am

    Well said…I dropped off my oldest of 4 kids at his college on August 15th and am having a hard time adjusting. Although I’m so excited about the opportunities and the fun that he is having, I’ve never been a Mom without him around and it is sad. I love the reduction in laundry and not having to stay up as late waiting for him to get home at night, but our family of 6 will never be exactly the same.


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