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My baby leaves for college in 3 days!

Sueb20
August 27, 2019

Waaah!! I’m really struggling, and I’m not usually emotional and weepy like this. We’ve had kids in our house for 27 years so this is such a huge change. And this is my only girl so it feels extra hard. Empty nesters, please list a few benefits of having an empty nest that I may not have thought of. Ready, go!

Comments (24)

  • jojoco

    I'm also trying to see the upside and my youngest is a sophomore at college. Here is one you may not have thought of...You get to make her day/week with a surprise care package..

    Sueb20 thanked jojoco
  • Sueb20

    I’m sure it’s not weird that I already bought a sweater that I’m planning to send her in a few weeks?

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  • Oakley

    Oh, I'd say in about 20 years you might get used to it. I mentioned this a long time ago but after taking our son to college, we came home and DH was quiet and went out to mow while I had a bonafide break down in the kitchen.


    DS came home the first weekend to get some stuff. I greeted him at the car, bawling like a baby and he gave me the biggest bear hug and said, "It's okay mom, I'm home." I'll never forget that.


    When my BIL and his wife took their first daughter to college, while driving home on the Interstate he had to pull over and cry. LOL


    In all honesty I think it depends on your relationship. I'm super close to both of my sons and I can tell how close you are to your daughter, so be prepared.


    Leave her room alone! Don't touch it until she graduates and living on her own. Unless she says it's okay to redecorate it.


    Once my son got his own apartment (with DS2) when he decided the frat house kept him from studying, I'd drive there with hundreds of dollars worth of groceries while they were in class and they'd be happily surprised when they came home. I was paying rent so I had a key. :)


    I won't lie, it will be hard the first week. I do want to hear back from you after she leaves to see how you handled it.

    Sueb20 thanked Oakley
  • Sueb20

    I told DH I just want to wallow in it for a week and to let me just do it and don‘t try to cheer me up or “fix” me. After week one, I’ll pull myself together, at least to some extent!


    Definitely not touching her room! I want her to graduate and come back to live with us forever ;-)


    I cried when both of my boys went to school (and cried even harder when oldest DS dropped out, haha) but this one has me feeling just sick.

  • LynnNM

    I feel for you, Sue! Our two are ten years apart in age. I cried on and off for days after we dropped DS, our oldest, off his university, 8 1/2 hours away. He had no family in the area and no friends from here attending OU. I was so worried for him! But, he’s always made friends very easily, and I think that helped a lot, as he did great from Day 1. It took me a while longer, though (LOL!). All those many years later, I can’t lie to you, it was equally hard when our daughter went off to the same university.

    Any positives? Well, girls are usually better at keeping in touch with Mom. Our DD called me pretty much every day to check in and share her news. Thankfully, both our kids adjusted well to college life. For DD, joining and being an active part in a sorority was a huge positive factor for her enjoyment. She graduated three years ago, going on to grad school several states away where she again initially knew no one. But, she’s still very close to a number of her sorority sisters.

    Being around her big brothers, visiting them at their colleges and hearing about college life from them will most likely help your DD adjust quicker herself. I know that it did for my DD.

    As for positives about being an empty nester, well, cleaning the house gets faster (LOL). You might find it easier to keep the weight off, as you probably won’t have as many tempting snack foods around. But, on a serious note, date nights can become more romantic as you slip back into the just-the-two-of-us feeling again. Hang in there!

    Sueb20 thanked LynnNM
  • Bestyears

    Here's my advice... might not be that helpful.... Enjoy these last few years, even though you have certainly lost a great deal of day-to-day contact. For me, the most painful part of empty nesting has come about since the last one graduated college. They are truly on their own now. I try to remind myself what a good thing that is LOL. But with career jobs, they are essentially unavailable for tel/con until the occasional evenings/weekends....

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  • daisychain01

    My oldest dad and I have always been close but ever since she’s been away at school we’ve become more like best friends. She seems to really relish mom/family time and there is no longer that bit of mother daughter strain. Having said that, I’m here getting her settled right now and leave for home tomorrow when I will likely have a full blown meltdown saying goodbye.

    ETA: obviously that should read DD not dad :/

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  • maddielee

    It really is easier now with texting and FaceTime. (Speaking as a grandmother who said goodbye to a granddaughter a few days ago.)

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  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)

    I may be an anomaly. I was also extremely close to my son (single parent from the time he was one until he was 17), but I was just so happy for him and remembered how exciting and wonderful it felt to go to college. His first day of kindergarten was tougher.

    Sueb20 thanked cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    My twin step sons moved out to go to college. Its not what you think, they are teaching there. We lost two sons, but gained a guest bedroom and a studio. Tears of joy.

    Sueb20 thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
  • eld6161

    Cyn, I'm with you. I was so excited for both my DD's to have the experience of going away to college that I didn't have. I literally walked to college, then took the subway for my masters. (Although I did have my own apartment while going to grad school.)

    Sueb, you just have to feel all the feelings. It's not truly an empty nest until all are out living on their own. You will be visiting soon for parent's weekend, then she comes home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know you have a few trips planned so that will help a bit.

    It is hard though, really no way to get around it.

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  • fissfiss

    It’s lovely when they return...for about three days....then you realize that they are treating the place like their home, which it is, but you’ve gotten used to their schtuff not being dropped anywhere.

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  • localeater

    Sue, I dropped my youngest off last Thursday, I miss him very much. We are close. Plus I worry about him, since he is a type 1 diabetic. But I have been preparing him since the day

    he was diagnosed at age 3 to go off and now I just have to trust.

    I bet when you see her so excited be on campus that your heart will burst with joy for her. Of course you will still have pangs of sadness, but that’s just part of being a mom.

    Our parents weekend is October 11th, I am counting the days!

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  • ratherbesewing

    Drop off is the hardest part! Personally, I found the September drop off difficult for all 4 years. The benefits of an empty nest: Less laundry, cleaner house and less cooking/grocery shopping. I told my DH that I need a month off from cooking when my last DS left the house. Keep telling yourself that this is the scenario you have been preparing for for the last 18 years -n independent, confident human. Go Sue!

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  • arcy_gw

    WOW a late starting college. Around here they all started this week or last. My last one left five years ago. It struck me how so many HUGE IMPORTANT worries : GPA, scholarship apps; FINALS mean nothing so fast. Keep yourself busy the next week or so. There are so many tunnels we just have to walk through and this one is HUGE. Transitions smack us when we least expect them it seems. What is it they say the hours are looong but the years are short. We decided with our first--at the brink of the cell phone age--that if he wanted his college money contribution then he had to call us once a week. We are not helicopter parents, when they launch they launch. They have to learn how to do this and so we committed to leaving him to it if he checked in EACH week.They all chose Universities too far away for weekend visits--which we encouraged.Now at 28, he just finished his Masters that his employer paid for, got married this summer and he still calls EVERY SUNDAY. The habit stuck with the daughters also. I live for Sunday and the hours these calls absorb. It helped me to remember myself at that age. I NEEDED my space, my life. I would not steal that from my own!! This year is our first to not have everyone here for Christmas. I have spent the last few days dealing with THAT emotional shock. We will see the newlyweds the weekend before..I set the bar NOW--I need us to have everyone together if not ON Christmas then near by.

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  • jmck_nc

    My situation is a bit different since I have a disabled son who is likely to live with us for a long time (he just turned 30). With my younger son, dropping him off at college was not that difficult for me. And now I relish the relationship we have as adults. It is really wonderful to hang with your adult kids! I think the harder thing for me will be his wedding...in October...yikes! But, he lives nearby with his fiance and we spend a lot of time with them. I read an article recently that said people who have children are happier overall.....once the children are grown!

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  • OutsidePlaying

    I’m speaking as a grandmother but my DD’s only child left for college last year and it was pretty traumatic. Besides the stress of move-in day and sorority rush, the rest was a piece of cake. The best thing was DGD pledges a sorority at a university where she didn’t know many people at all and has had a great time plus made a perfect GPA both semesters.

    Someone else mentioned care packages. My DD made some really creative ones and if I can find photos I will post a couple. They were much appreciated and all her dorm mates loved seeing them. She would also include some cheap seasonal decorations for their room door or inside the room plus snacks and little notes of course.

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  • allison0704

    Day by day, it will get better. Easier. But there will still be moments of tears.


    DD1 left AL and went to college in San Francisco, taking with her only two suitcases on the plane. I went with her on the final/move in trip, and we learned our way around SF, shopped until we dropped. It was my first time there, as she had gone out with DH to tour colleges and look at apartments. She was there over 10 years, and every single time I went back to the airport it was hard. Every time the plane took off, I looked out the window at SF and cried. The first few years I visited often, having mother-daughter time. She would come home to visit and see my mom and DD2. Visits became less often, but phone calls and text were multiple times daily... and not just from my end. Since she had an apartment, she went to school year-round, so all breaks were full of mini courses and summer sessions. I never changed her bedroom, but we did build a house and move during her time in CA. DS went to college in Chicago, same scenario, only less phone calls and texts. DH thought I was going to die young when it was time for DD2 to leave the nest, but I surprised them all. Mainly because she was still in our town. Otherwise, it would have been much different! Our baby will always be our baby. ((hugs))

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  • localeater

    Sharing a fun care package idea. DS was on football team and I am friends with many of last years senior football moms. We get together about every other month. At future get togethers we are all bring 6 of the same item then send a package to each boy from football with a note from all of us. We always spread the message that football team is family and we want them to know we all still are their “moms”

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  • IdaClaire

    I've always been an "empty nester", as I've never had children living in my home, so I'm probably not very well qualified to speak to this subject. However, I will still say that I cherish my independence and the ease with which DH and I can simply "pick up and go" whenever we want, and basically experience a certain amount of "freedom" that some we know with children still at home cannot. This is not to negate the fact that our friends with kids at home certainly experience wonderful times that we do not, but simply to suggest you start focusing on what will soon become your "me" time. Revel in it, and enjoy every moment of being as "selfish" as you absolutely want to be. Certainly, feel your feelings of sadness and loss for the way your home is changing, but open yourself to the new possibilities that lie before you. It's going to be awesome for everyone involved, I'm sure!

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  • Sueb20

    Thanks, all. It is so weird to think my time will be my own...that is such a new concept for me!


    DH and I have been good about planning fun stuff. We will be spending most of Sept. at our beach house, with some trips back and forth to home, as our kitchen at home is being renovated. Then we have 10 days in Santa Fe, followed by a visit to DS in AZ (he moved there a year ago, and I feel like I'm sad about that all over again too!). Oh, and a weekend in NYC to see a concert and a play. And...Bar Harbor in early Nov., and a couple nights in Portland in early Dec. DD will have gymnastics meets almost every weekend from Jan to March, and we'll try to go to most of them. Meanwhile we are trying to decide where to go for our 30th anniversary in the spring. I guess what I'm saying is, don't stop in for coffee 'cause we probably won't be home. ;-)


    Kitchen should be done by Nov. so you know the finishing touches will keep me busy for a while!


    DH just retired (early) and I work PT for myself, so we are lucky to have the flexibility now to travel, although I may kill him after all this unpredecented Together Time. Stay tuned.

  • nini804

    My older child left for college last fall. The first week was HARD, I won’t lie. However, you definitely get used to a new normal. Our day to day dynamic changed, with dd essentially becoming an only child. She really missed having her big brother at high school (she was a freshman his senior year and since he was quite well-liked, I think she enjoyed being known as “J’s little sis,”

    even though she’d never admit it, lol.) I got used to mothering from a distance and really enjoyed his visits and breaks.


    Now that we are getting ready to take him back Friday after having him home all summer working at a local camp, I’m finding myself getting weepy again, gosh darn-it-all!! I thought after the first time it’d be nothing until dd leaves in 2 years, but again, I‘ve gotten used to having him around! Waaah!! :) I know I’ll be ok bc I adjusted last year but ugh! :)

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  • happy2b…gw

    When DD calls you and she gushes about how how happy she is is when you will feel okay and think, "Who could ask for more". Every stage of motherhood is wonderful and fulfilling. Motherhood changes but does not end. Thinking of all of you who are dropping kids off this week.

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  • nosoccermom

    They're off to college, but they'll still be around a lot. There are so many breaks, Thanksgiving, Christmas/winter break, spring break, and probably for an internship over the summer.

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