It’s honestly been a while since I have written anything besides health-related topics. As a blogger, I like to write about things that could be helpful for others. Since this is where I am right now, I wanted to “pay it forward” and give you a little heads up just in case you will be in this situation soon. Here are 7 emotions I felt preparing for my son to go to college.
I am already a mess and I haven’t even walked out of his door yet. I can’t even imagine what that is going to feel like. So many emotions and mixed feelings. Up until now, I have been preoccupied with the busyness of all of the things associated with that day. The applications, admission forms, and financial paperwork. As the days get closer and the to-do list gets smaller, I don’t want to think about that moment when I have to give him a hug, turn around and walk out of his door. That door is both literal and symbolic. The door I’m referring to is his dorm room door and the symbolism is his childhood.
Leading up to that day I have to walk out of his door, the emotions are all over the place and are felt deep to my core. I know in my heart this is the best thing for him and I’m so excited for this next season in his life but how can I live with my firstborn son every day for 19 years and not miss them when they leave?
Emotion #1: I miss him already
I’m not talking about someone who has been a problem or a pain in my side. He’s not perfect and has made mistakes but raising him has been so easy and so satisfying. His smile and laugh are contagious. He is kind and liked by everyone he comes into contact with. He has such a sweet spirit about him. He is so helpful and does what he is supposed to do without giving us a hard time. He uses his manners and respects others. I will miss how good he thinks my dinners are. He has never gotten in trouble at school and has always tried his best at everything he does. I could keep going on and on but the point is, I love him living here and I don’t want him to leave but I know this is the best thing for him now.
I even thought it would be easier knowing he is only an hour away and if you would have asked me last week, that made it better and brought me so much comfort. That doesn’t matter when he won’t be in the next room. My mind knows this is true but my heart hasn’t come to understand this yet.
Emotion #2: Reminiscence
From missing him came the memories which brought a whole new level of missing him. I started reminiscing about him growing up and started looking at old pictures and realizing how much he has grown and changed but yet still looks the same. Then came emotion #3…
Emotion #3: Mom guilt
Along with the pain of not seeing him every day, I am going through major mom guilt. I am asking myself so many questions like “did I do enough while he was here”, “did I do too much for him”, “did we prepare him enough for this moment”, “does he know how proud we are of him”, why didn’t I do_” or “should I have done_”. I know I did everything I could with what I knew and with what I had but did I?
I also felt guilty for feeling how I felt. I didn’t want anyone to know what I was going through. If my son knew I woke up at 3 am crying, he wouldn’t want to leave. If I was too happy, people think I was trying to get rid of him. If my other kids know how much I was struggling, would they think he was the favorite? These are all so far from the truth.
Emotion #4: Loneliness
I know I’m not really alone but I have felt more alone in the past couple of months than I ever have before. I feel as if I am going through this alone and I have no one around me that understands.
Where is my advice? Where are the people who have already gone through this warning me on what I’m about to go through? We get so much advice about being new moms and how to raise toddlers or even how to have “the talk” with our children but never about how hard it is to transition from a teen to an adult. The only thing I ever hear when I mention my first love is going off to college is “how awesome and exciting”. Yeah, sure it is! I hear you, I even agree with you and I know you mean well but no, not really. I’m a mess thank you for asking. Just once I would like to hear someone say, “I’m so sorry your baby is leaving you. That totally sucks right now.” Let me be the first to tell you that the ages graduating from high school to walking out of their dorm room door are the hardest parenting times of all. Hands down. He might as well be 10 hours away at that point. Either way, it’s all the same. My point is, he isn’t in his room playing video games or running downstairs when it’s time to eat, and the house won’t ever be the same without him.
Emotion #5: Reality
I remember 6 years ago reading something that stuck with me and I repeated it to friends with small kids. “You only have 18 summers with them”. I always heard what it was saying but I never truly believed it until the summers came and went. I remember last year thinking this is my last summer and how those years went by way too fast. After that summer, I had to slowly start letting go and so did he. We simultaneously and subconsciously began the “pulling away stage”. Reality set in and I knew him leaving eventually would happen. It’s our goal as parents.
Emotion #6: Excitement!
My son took a year off after he graduated high school because he didn’t know what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He had many ideas and he tried a few things but never settled on anything and I’m glad. He doesn’t need to settle and shouldn’t have to. During that year, he worked full time and was able to learn quickly what he didn’t want to do his whole life.
He graduated in 2020. Because of Covid, his graduating class really got the short end of the stick. Since they were mostly virtual during their junior and senior years, they didn’t get the full guidance of their counselors since they couldn’t go to school. Their career path was put on hold so they can focus on other issues like mental health from being isolated while trying to keep up academically. This was the highest percentage of kids who didn’t know what they wanted to do after graduation than ever.
I was excited when he came to me a few months ago and said he wanted to go to college and he knew what he wanted to do. I was excited for him!
When I think about the day when I have to walk out of his dorm room and leave him there, I imagine myself walking away slowly as I swallow my tears screaming inside “wait, I’m not done with you yet, I need more time. Please don’t make me go” “I still need you” “You still need me”. But I don’t say any of these because I know in my heart, my time is up.
Emotion # 7: Comfort and Peace
Then I will come to realize 3 things that will give me peace and comfort as I walk out of his door.
- Even though I might need more time with him, he doesn’t because he is ready for this. He has been preparing for this moment. He is a capable, smart, and confident man now.
- God has his back. Dueturonomy 31:6 “…for the Lord your God goes with you: He will not leave you nor forsake you”. Jeremish 29:11 “For I know the pans I have for you , declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”. I want all of my children to know that God is always with them even if they feel lonely, sad, or overwhelmed.
- He knows where we are and he will reach out if he needs us becasue thats what we have taught him to do all of these years.
I know. everything will be fine and I will get through this and someone reading this won’t understand and that’s okay. I know this is my story and I have to mitigate this for myself and go through the process.
Now, I have 2 summers left with my teenage high school daughter. I have to make the most of them and start preparing for the day I have to walk out of her dorm room door. My son can give her advice on what it’s like to start college and lead her and his little brother by going through the process first. They already look up to him because he has been an amazing brother for them all of this time.