The Process of Letting Go

This past August, we moved our daughter into her dorm room and set her up for her freshman year at college. I remember thinking that her entire senior year was a complete blur to me. Every weekend was filled with Class of ’19 activities. She attended the last homecoming game, the last Coronation Ball, and the last winter concert. Not to mention senior prom, a trip to Disney World, senior cut day, college visits, and so on and so on.

She had a car last year, so between her boyfriend, a part-time job, and her dance group, she was almost never home. And that’s what is supposed to happen! It is a process that all parents must go through. If we do our jobs right, our children will live independently and happily going forward.

The seismic shift of her absence during her first semester was not lost on me. I turned her homework desk into my writing nook so that a) I’d have a quiet space with a door to close and b) I had an excuse to spend time in her room.

Of course, it is wonderful to have so much free time now to focus on our son. When you have two teenagers at home and one is about to go off to college, the other one can sometimes feel left out. But, we are making up for lost time now. At 16, I’m sure we cramp his style at times since he is now the only child living at home. I promise not to embarrass him in front of his friends, although I don’t always know I’m doing it. 🙂

Over Thanksgiving, she came back to visit for a week. She hadn’t been home since we dropped her off, and we were a family of four again. I was so happy that I even posted a screenshot of the Find Your Friends app showing all of us in the same place at the same time–home.

And then, she went back for finals and finished out her first semester. Her winter break is longer than other schools, and right now it is like she never left. She helps around the house and takes her brother to wherever he needs to go. I hear the two of them laughing, screeching, and fighting upstairs over the shared bathroom or random annoyances. I don’t even bother to go up there and referee. I like the noise. It’s just like old times.

In the back of my mind, I know she is going to leave us soon. And while there was a set process for sending her off to college, there is none for sending her back again. In some ways, this is going to be harder for me, but, I will adjust.

Meanwhile, the other night, my husband started discussing college plans with our son. I told them both to stop talking. I’m not ready to start that process.

10 comments on The Process of Letting Go

  1. Deborah
    January 13, 2020 at 5:40 pm (1 year ago)

    Having a child go to college is bittersweet. They are learning to be on their own but may ask for advice

    • Elisa Heisman
      January 13, 2020 at 5:45 pm (1 year ago)

      I’m counting on it! 🙂

  2. Carrie
    January 13, 2020 at 7:31 pm (1 year ago)

    Our kids are back-to-back and we went from houseful to emptynesters overnight. I know it’s hard to believe, but as happy as I am when they come home, I’m typically ready for them to leave again when it’s time.

  3. Robert Krantweiss
    January 13, 2020 at 8:17 pm (1 year ago)

    I know how you feel. I went through the same experience a few years ago.

  4. Martha
    January 13, 2020 at 9:18 pm (1 year ago)

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could hold on to our children forever! But we all know they need to spread their wings and fly. So many memories as we watch them hit new milestones.

  5. Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA
    January 14, 2020 at 9:26 am (1 year ago)

    Ah, yes. A little more than 2 decades ago, we sent off four in rapid succession. The only reason that wasn’t devastating was because there was a tyke (just out of rug-rat stage) in the home. But, life went on and now the little rug rat is married.
    And, then, there were none…

  6. Julie JordanScott
    January 14, 2020 at 1:26 pm (1 year ago)

    My son goes back to UNLV this coming Saturday. He is getting antsy to return to his independent college life. I am sorry and happy to see him leave. I am so proud of who he is becoming as I am sure you are proud of your daughter. I totally get not wanting to start the process all over again!

    • Elisa Heisman
      January 15, 2020 at 8:27 am (1 year ago)

      Hi Julie. Thanks for sharing!The thought of starting the college search for my son is daunting.

  7. Minette Riordan
    January 14, 2020 at 6:38 pm (1 year ago)

    Sending my second and youngest off to college this fall. Definitely has me thinking lots about parenting, empty nests and trying to avoid thinking about how much I will miss them. Lovely post. Us moms have to stick together and love each other up!

    • Elisa Heisman
      January 15, 2020 at 8:26 am (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Minette. Yes, we all have to stick together.


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