A tip to say good-bye to your college student

University of Utah in Salt Lake City
University of Utah in Salt Lake City
Kat during our 6th trip to Target
Kat during our 6th trip to Target

So, how did it go when we said good-bye?

We had planned to stay until Sunday. Move-In day had been Thursday. We wanted to be around for a few days in case she needed us. She wanted us there on Thursday, but by Friday — not so much. It began to make sense for us to leave. We didn’t want to hang out and wait to see if she wanted us around. It didn’t make us feel good and we weren’t enjoying ourselves exploring the city that much. We had a long drive ahead of us, too. So we went out for an early morning walk and talked about how we’d let her know that we felt it was time to leave.

She texted us at 7 a.m. Saturday. 

text from Kat
text from Kat
A view  during our walk on campus
A view during our walk on campus
Sage Point dorms at U of U
Sage Point dorms at U of U, the athlete housing for Winter Olympics 2002.
Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 6.39.38 PM

What tips do you have for saying good-bye to your loved ones — whether it’s college or pre-school?

43 thoughts on “A tip to say good-bye to your college student

  1. For me, it was about keeping my focus on them- how great their opportunities, how fun their adventure, and how much they were about to discover. That kept the mood exciting. After I left, I allowed myself to feel for me. But they didn’t need to be part of that. I realize though, that a successful goodbye starts at hello- approximately 18 years of preparation needs to be done. A goodbye full of regret and uncertainty about whether the “youngun” is ready would be much harder!

    • What a fabulous point of view. Yes, I tried to keep my emotions in check but didn’t quite succeed. It is 18 years of preparation and then realization that they are ready to fly.

      • Yes! And I don’t think all the tears are sad ones. Some of them are just about how proud we are of them- how much we admire the adult they’ve become. And that, combined with the emptiness we feel about their absence is simply too much to keep inside. I had a hard time when my son left recently, as you know. I did better with the kids with whom I had more time to prepare. But this one left suddenly, so an unexpected opportunity. I didn’t keep my tears in check. There he was, towering taller than me, strong arm around me, as my husband and I prayed for him… and after we said amen, I could see he was concerned about me. I had to let him know that only 33.33% of the tears were sadness- the rest were joy and admiration and gratitude to God. (Seriously, one mom to another, this motherhood thing is rough! Haha!)

      • What a wonderful story. I do agree that some of our tears are pride and admiration for what wonderful adults they’ve become. To be honest, I’m having a tough mom week with two medical scares. One with my daughter who had a bad reaction to anesthesia and the other my DIL who we’re waiting on a biopsy. Prayers please!

      • Oh my goodness! Yes- I’ll definitely pray. Medical scares are especially difficult because there is really nothing you can do. Oh we try- and we can be beneficial emotionally and we can help with comfort- but prayer is the best -and only- way we can bring healing. I’m joining you at the feet of the Great Physician!

  2. I have always been one to hold it together at the time- I have this thing about being the *strong one* deeply ingrained in my head. It is only later that I fall apart 🙂

    My kids all went to college close by, less than 30 minutes away so it’s been their moving to different states as adults that brings adjustment.

  3. OMG – I’m in tears. I can’t imagine having to do this but I know that to think of it now is to jump over a million steps between now and then. So I’m taking a deep breath and remembering that I’ll be okay. Beautiful post, Elizabeth!

  4. Oh….her holding YOUR face in her hands. That got me. The long slow walk away from our daughter’s dorm room…knowing we were getting on a plane without her reminded me of leaving her on her first day of kindergarten that must’ve only been a minute before…not a dozen years. Love, love, love all of this. xo! 🥰

  5. My experience of those first 18 years was that they seemed to last for 28. But looking back, I see that it was just a super brief wrinkle in time—the blink of an eye. To all young parents, I say, enjoy every moment, for they will be a memory for many years longer than they were a reality. I’m grateful for both!

    • Beautifully said. I remember moms of older kids telling me to enjoy every moment. It seemed so cliche at the time. But now that I’m on the other side, I know exactly what they meant.

  6. Oh, I love this EA. I especially love the “Okie dokie” and her holding your face in her hands. Who’s the child and who’s the adult? I say that admitting that my kids have done the same to me. Ha, ha. I love this story. Thanks so much for reposting. It will easier next Saturday when we take back my son — we’re supposed to be old pros now — but there will still be some quiet moments on the drive home. Thanks EA!!!!

  7. Wow, I got teary-eyed, remembering when our son and daughter embarked on the same adventure. It’s so bittersweet, and I was like you, trying to contain my emotions. Most of the time, they won though, and then the kids simply laughed because they knew “that’s Mom!”
    I wish your daughter and you and your husband all the best!

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