By: Sarah Thompson
This month, we moved my oldest child into college, and I kept thinking, “Where did the time go?” While the phrase, “it feels like just yesterday,” may be a cliché, it is true. Didn’t we just bring her home from the hospital? Wasn’t I rocking her to sleep, holding her hand when she bumped her knee and sending her to the first day of kindergarten just yesterday? It’s a challenging and disorienting transition for the whole family, but especially for moms. This summer, I created a short list of five tips for dealing with the feelings that come along with this new season of life.
- Celebrate their success AND yours
When I start to feel down about my daughter leaving for college, I remember that this is a massive success for both of us. I would have been proud of my daughter if she had chosen college for her next step or not. But what I’m proud of is the passion, dedication, and work ethic that got her here. From late nights helping her study to guiding her through the emotional ups and downs of college, we all deserve a good ole’ pat on the back.
- Recognize that this transition is a gift
A young man – who would have graduated with my daughter – tragically lost his life last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This rocked our entire community and brought to light how fragile life is. We just don’t know how long we have with “our people.” Even though she won’t be in our home anymore, and that is undoubtedly something to grieve, she is here with us and can move into the next chapter. For this, I am eternally grateful.
- Reflect on your time together
Part of the process of transitioning into this new chapter was reflecting on our time together – both the moments I’m proud of and the ones I regret. I journaled through my favorite moments with her: the Grand Canyon when she was 13, our mom-and-daughter road trip to see Taylor Swift on her 16th birthday, and so many more. I love reliving our memories. I also journaled about what I wished I’d done differently, making a list of priorities to focus on with my other kids at home.
- Don’t take this new season for granted
While this has been hard to put this into perspective, I’ve reminded myself repeatedly that this new season is FUN. Sure, it won’t be like it was. But there will be some incredible “perks” to my daughter being in college. Having a new favorite football team to cheer on, getting to visit her college town, making friends with fellow moms, and so much more. I don’t want to sacrifice this new season because I’m mourning the old one.
- Let yourself feel sad
Ultimately, even if you follow all of the self-help tips out there, you’re still going to have moments of sadness. When those come, let yourself feel them. A child leaving home is a huge transition. You’re grieving the life you’ve lived with them so far and looking to an uncertain future. Just know that when you feel that sadness, you’re not alone. You have me – and so many other moms across the country – who are experiencing the same feelings. Take a walk with a friend, comment on this post, or confide in a fellow mom, and know that there are good things ahead.