If you recently took your college kid to school, I’m betting you came home exhausted and emotional from the grueling but exciting transition that comes with this big change. And whether you planted your kid just a few hours away or traveled across several states, there’s a realization that slowly sets in as you begin to live your life with them away from home. You know they are exactly where they need to be. You are thrilled for this new season of their life, and you can’t wait to watch their future unfold. But you might struggle with adjusting to life without them, feeling a void where they used to be, and your heart might ache just a little- or a lot.
Every mom will miss different things about their kid because we all have different experiences and relationships when it comes to parenting. But as I face my second year without my college kid home, these are the things I still miss the most.
You will miss their faces and their voices.
Although your grown-up kid was probably gone a lot with their very busy and independent life before they left, you will immediately notice the silence that fills your home when they leave for good. You will miss those late nights they came home to share the details of their long day and all the rushed mornings you hurriedly sent them on their way. You will miss seeing their faces on the rare and wonderful occasion they appear before your eyes with their witty remarks or sarcastic sighs. You will miss every small interaction you used to have, from telling them to pick up their things or asking them what their plans are for the day. You will miss them appearing in the kitchen after you made them a meal asking if there’s anything else that’s good to eat while rummaging through the fridge. You will miss them laughing while watching their favorite episodes of Friends or The Office for the 100th time. You will miss hearing them Facetime their friends from the privacy of their room as you walk by. The house will feel empty without seeing their faces or hearing their voices. The silence might sink you from time to time.
You will miss those late nights waiting up for them to come home.
There’s something quite freeing with not having to worry or wonder where your kid might be when the midnight hour approaches, but then this strange feeling appears where you actually miss staying up expecting to see them again. Each night, you’re struck with a new notion that your baby isn’t coming home and you can’t see visible proof that they are in fact, okay. You’ll feel this sickness in your stomach when you face the reality that you can’t give them a curfew any longer. This ironic paradox turns your “freedom” into a “frenzy” when you wonder and then begin to worry if they are back in their dorm or their apartment by now. And if they aren’t, then WHERE ARE THEY AT THIS LATE HOUR?
Now you’ll spend your late nights wrestling with the not-knowing and this will be your newly established regular routine. You will try really hard to resist the desperate urge to simply text or call to check in. If you have Life 360, tracking them will either produce an eruption of insanity or bring you the peace you desperately need. This tipping scale changes by the hour, so use it at your own risk.
You will miss shopping for their favorite foods and the essentials they used to need.
When you’re grocery shopping and see their favorite snacks, you will impulsively grab several off the shelf and put them in your cart. Then as you continue down the aisle, this sudden surge of sadness erupts when you realize you don’t need to buy their favorite foods anymore. You reluctantly turn your cart around to place those snacks back on the shelf with your sweaty hands and tearful eyes. You then turn back around to quickly move on and shake it off because you have other things to buy.
Then five minutes later, while going down aisle 3, you’ll see your kid’s special shampoo or deodorant or facial cleanser on sale and throw a bunch in the cart in case they might need it someday. You’ll just keep them in storage until they come home. It might be several months from now, but you don’t EVEN care because you are BUYING THEIR FAVORITE THINGS ANYWAY.
You’ll probably text them to let them know you stocked up on their favorite shampoo or deodorant or facewash because that’s what moms do. And then they’ll reply, “Aw that’s so nice of you, but I already have enough. Thanks, though.” (Insert sobbing emoji here)
You will miss their messes and even miss picking up after them.
For all those years you complained about your kid’s belongings that were always scattered around the house, you actually looked forward to the day when you didn’t see their piles of books or shoes or clothes in your way. Perhaps it was their incessant forgetfulness to clean their dishes or clear their plates, hang their coats or put their laundry away. Maybe you were so tired of nagging them to be more responsible with taking care of their things that you couldn’t wait for them to hear it from their new roommates instead of you.
Whatever the case, you grew so very tired of their messes, and now here you are with a clean home empty of the trail they used to leave behind every.single.day. You might wander into their deserted bedroom and tour their private archive of treasures they abandoned. And my gosh, you’ll miss seeing their clothes on the floor and their unmade bed; you’ll miss collecting cups you find that have been missing for weeks.
And you might find yourself pacing around the house feeling a little unsettled, a little lost without having the extra tedious work to do. Things are in place and organized and clean, but you would give anything to have their crap around to clean. This is the weirdest thing you’d never thought you’d miss, but you didn’t realize how much this was a part of your life until they left.
Life without your college kid home will be so different and sometimes very difficult too. It’s another season of parenting that brings lots of change, and just like our college kids are adjusting to their new lives, we’ll be adjusting to ours too.
While we anxiously wait for them to come home again.