High School Mom to College Mom: 5 Differences to Celebrate

You’re excited. You’re proud. You’re nervous. You’re a wreck. You’re sad. You’re relieved. You’re happy!

Now shuffle all those emotions up and then turn on your brain overthinking function, and you have the summer before your teen leaves for college pretty much in a nutshell. Those few weeks of impending change before the big shipping them off day are a roller coaster of angst and joy.

The summer before your teen leaves for college produces a mix of sad and happy emotions for parents. (Twenty20 @DimaBerlin)

One day you are crying about their departure, next you are pushing them out the door

One day you’re standing in their bedroom imagining it empty and silently holding in tears, and the next you’re furiously helping them pack, in an attempt to just get them OUT because the waiting and frustration aren’t making anyone happy at this point. 

Either way, you’re about the start a new season of motherhood (and life), and while you may be thinking of all the sadness surrounding letting go of a kid, in reality, that sadness is also a time of happiness for YOUR life. A child leaving the nest of course means the nest itself is changing, but the biggest changes aren’t necessarily to the one who leaves, but to the one that remains—YOU.

“Things will be different” is an understatement, but it’s exactly those differences that you need to celebrate, not dread. After the big college drop-off day, give yourself some time to be sad for a bit, that’s completely normal, but then get the party favors out because you’ve got a lot to celebrate.

5 reasons to celebrate your empty nest

1. One less kid can be a good thing

Even if you still have kids at home, and your day-to-day parenting responsibilities are not really going anywhere, just having one less body at home can release a giant chunk of burden. Think less laundry, fewer groceries, fewer shoes crowding the hallway. You get the idea. It’s like going from 2 kids to 3 kids except in reverse, and in a way that provides relief, not chaos. 

2. Schooling is no longer your job

By schooling I mean, all the managing of school things that moms do from K-12. Your days of permission slip signing, schedule checking, grade monitoring, field trip chaperoning, sports physicals, etc. are OVER. Moms don’t have parent/professor conferences, and AMEN for that. If you haven’t let go of that duty yet, now is the time. Enjoy quitting this job!

3. Watching them adult is amazing

Change your self-talk from being sad about watching them not be kids again, to being overjoyed that they’ve made it to adulthood. You’ve spent the first 18 years lamenting about how it all went by so fast and wondering where childhood went, but now that kind of thinking needs to shift. And it should shift to all the new seasons of their life that you’re going to get the privilege and honor of witnessing, not what has been. That’s reason alone to celebrate daily that you’ve made it to this point.

4. Your mojo is now your call

Maybe their dance recitals were your thing, or their soccer games, traveling baseball teams, or marching band competitions. Whatever it was, I bet your kid’s mojo became your mojo, and whatever was happening in their lives was the thing that brought you the most joy.

Now is the time to work on finding just YOUR joy. You get to make the call. Don’t ever want to watch a marching band again? No problem, your call. Don’t know what your mojo is? You’ve got a lot of time to start figuring it out. Take that on with as much glee as you did organizing their travel baseball schedule and you’ll be just fine. 

5. Selfishness is not unhealthy anymore

It’s no joke that those high school years were insane and exhausting and required heaping amounts of selflessness on your part, but you’ve made it to the other side, and your reward? It’s literally called being selfish but in the healthiest and most gracious of ways. You’ve dutifully earned the rest that comes with kids growing up and growing OUT of your home. Do not for one second feel guilt or shame in that. And if you do? Call me, because I’ve got all the emotional supplies needed for an empty nest kind of party, and it starts with leaving that guilt at the door.

Now go celebrate!

More Great Reading:

21 Things You’ll Love About Your Empty Nest

About Melissa Fenton

Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer and adjunct librarian at Pasco-Hernando State College. Find her writing all over the internet, but her work mostly on the dinner table. Find her on Facebook 
and on twitter at @melissarunsaway

Read more posts by Melissa

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