Why Watching Moms with Their Teens Breaks My Heart

This time of year, I run into them often and every time I do, my heart drops.

Today, I watched the two of them smiling and laughing together as they walked through the shopping center parking lot.

After they put their purchases in her trunk, she gave him a hug goodbye since they had arrived in separate cars.

The hug was something I hadn’t seen before.

As I passed them, I couldn’t resist letting them know how I felt.

I rolled down my window and said, “You two have to stop breaking my heart.”

“I’m sneaking in hugs while I can,” she said.

I certainly understood that.

Although I didn’t actually know them, I knew exactly who they were.

A mother and her son preparing for him to leave for college.

Their purchases gave them away, a collegiate comforter, a bed topper and a trash can shaped like a basketball hoop.

My son and I had bought similar things when we were doing the same thing.

As I drove away, I felt a lump in my throat. I wonder when the sight of a mom and son dorm shopping won’t make me sad.

Six years after college shopping with my son, I’m crying at the stoplight.

[More on the 50 questions to ask before dorm shopping here.]

When he graduated two years ago, he moved to New York City.

After 23 years, our house was permanently child free.

Even though I’ve adjusted to the so-called “empty nest” and love my life with my husband, I still miss my children.

Etch-a-Sketch edit

Of course, they come home to visit for long weekends and holidays.

But that’s just it.

It’s a visit.

When they’re home, life as we knew it returns.

Coffee on the back porch, dinner around the kitchen table, chocolate chip cookies made from a refrigerated roll, lounging around the family room.

Just “breathing each other’s oxygen,” I like to joke.

For a few days, I get my old job back. I am a mom taking care of my children.

I sleep soundly through the night knowing my family is under one roof.

It never lasts long enough.

Maybe one day I will look at a mother and son shopping for college and think, I’m glad that’s not me.

But not yet.

Maybe not ever.

Quite honestly, I love the memory despite the tears.

I love all of the memories.

To my children I say, thank you for coming home when you can and for warmly welcoming us when we visit.

To my husband I say, isn’t it great we have the dog!


Never Again Will I

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Gifts for College Students: 18 Favorites Your Kid Will Love

Nancy TwifordNancy Twiford is a storyteller, Etch-A-Sketcher, wife and mom. She found her true calling staying at home raising two kids, who have both flown the nest to New York City. A former PR rep and event planner, she keeps up with her passion for writing on her blog, Musing, Morals and Bees, where she shares musings on daily life and parenting, morals of her stories and bees in her bonnet, topped off with a signature Etch-A-Sketch drawing.

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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