Saying Goodbye to Your College Freshman Child

college-move-in-day1When both our daughters went off to college each for the first time, it was made easier because they were so excited and eager to launch from the nest.  They were making pretty good life decisions, as far as we knew.  🙂  We worked to give them lots of “opportunities to show trust and responsibility”.  You can ask them and they will tell you that I would say that I wanted “to give them enough rope to grow and learn but not so much that they could hang themselves”.

I’m not going to say their leaving wasn’t hard, because it was.   With both of them, the first few weeks after they left home were okay, it felt like they were just off to summer camp.  No big deal.  It was around that 6th week for both of them that I would find myself saying, “This isn’t fun anymore…This is starting to feel long….” and I’d go to their respective room, lay on their bed and let myself cry.

The best advice I ever received on saying that final goodbye, came from a gentleman that I used to go with to see Broadway shows in Dallas.  He was a choir director for our parish and Mark was all too happy for Kevin to be my date for the night for that type of entertainment.  One night, over dinner Kevin and I talked about my youngest daughter leaving soon for College.  He offered this: “Don’t say your goodbyes at the dorm.  And, if you can – try not to tear up too much.”  The reason he offered this was because of the trauma he had felt when his Mom and Aunt left him at college.  In the weeks leading up to the drop off they talked of how excited they were for him and how much fun he was going to have and it is going to all be amazing.  Only to find them, leaving him in the front yard of his dorm crying uncontrollably.  It totally caught him off guard and made him think “wait a minute!”.  Should I be worried or upset?  Where did this come from?  Is this going to be okay???

Mark and I planned a dinner out the night or so before we were to take Madison off to college.  We invited a couple of her close friends to come with us to her favorite Sushi restaurant, Ra.  During dinner,  Mark and I toasted her… told her how very proud we were for her… and admitted to her that our hearts were breaking a little at seeing her leave — I teared up, which gave us all the opportunity for well-meaning hugs all around…

The next day, we packed up 2 SUVs of college stuff and moved her into the dorm.  People were everywhere, moving in hectic and the day was sweltering.  In the end, we were all hot, sweaty and exhausted from all the back and forth to the cars and the dorm room set up.  I can still see her on that entry porch to the dorm looking through us as we gave her a last hug before leaving.  She was distracted, to say the least and had a sort of fish out of water, what now kind of look…

There was no way  on the steps of that dorm, that we could have said and she herself in-turn absorbed the really meaningful goodbyes, words of encouragement, love, and yes even the sadness if we hadn’t listened to Kevin’s advice…

2 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to Your College Freshman Child

  1. Pingback: Saying Goodbye to Your College Freshman Child | One Flew Over The Empty Nest

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