The Drop Offs

Day 21 of 31

Let me start by saying that I am typically not a crier. You know how there are people who cry and people who don’t? I almost always fit into the latter category. I know that seems strange since I someone who can “feel” emotions and I am a counselor who helps others manage their emotions. Perhaps that’s a topic for another slice…or for a therapy session.

I thought I was an expert at taking a kid to college. After all, I had done this twice before. When we took my first daughter we drove to DC and spent the night. The following morning we moved her into her dorm room and she went off to do freshman activities while we returned to the hotel. We met her the following morning, spent a little time with her, had lunch and left. It was emotional but I held it together pretty well. I shed a few tears when we were driving home but I was ok. Maybe I was ok because there were two other daughters waiting at home for me?

Fast forward 2 years later. We took my 2nd daughter to college and although I was sad to see her go, she did that thing that teens do when they have to separate. She was super cranky during the lead up, so although I was sad to say goodbye, it felt like it was time. On some level I think I was relieved that she pretty much hated us the last month prior to the drop off. She did not cry. I cried on the way home but held it together pretty well when I was still in her presence. Maybe I was ok because there was one more daughter waiting for me at home?

Fast forward 2 more years, which brings us to this year, just 6 months ago. It was time for my third and last daughter to leave the nest. We spent lots of time shopping and packing and she was easy going about it. There was not as much drama as the first two, but I attributed that to her personality and also my experience. After all, I had done this college thing twice before. I was an expert. I knew what to expect. In fact, she and I joked on and off all summer about the goodbye. I would say, “I’m not going to cry are you?” and she would say, “Obviously not”, and I think we both meant it.

Finally the day arrived. We drove up to school and moved her in. I helped a little with her room and we went to lunch. During lunch I could “feel” some hesitation from her but figured it would pass. After we ate it was time to bring her back to her dorm and then say goodbye. As we began walking up the hill I could feel it happening. With each step I took I became more emotional, but really did not want her to see it. As we got to the stairs leading up to her room I could see that she was also emotional. And then it happened. A tear silently rolled down her face. And then guess what happened? I cried…a lot. Also, she cried…a lot.

Since then I have wondered why the last one was the hardest one to leave. I think it’s because there were no others waiting for me at home. Don’t get me wrong. I am not currently sad. In fact, my husband and I really enjoy being empty nesters. I love not being responsible for dinner, or managing school and after school activities. My youngest daughter has adjusted beautifully to school and living away from us, just as her sisters adjusted.

Do I miss each one of my girls, absolutely! But the reality is that they are no longer little girls. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Now I have a different kind of relationship with each of them. It’s a relationship where they can now teach me about things as I continue to teach them about adult life that they don’t yet know. I will confess, I still love it when they call me, “Mommy” or they want to snuggle up with me for no reason but mostly I am proud of the people they have become.

First Kid College Goodbye
Middle Kid College Goodbye
Third Kid College Goodbye

5 thoughts on “The Drop Offs

  1. I loved getting a glimpse of each college goodbye. INteresting that the 3rd was the waterworks. I would think the first, the unknown would be hard. Looking back, I have 2 daughters. I was so excited for my first, until I saw her sister crying, Then we all cried!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s pretty amazing that you have pics to go with your slice. I have tears just thinking about sending my son (now 10) to college one day. I love how each experience is different. Thinking back, I think I was the cranky teen. The way you process these memories show how well you understand your daughters and human nature in general. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this very honest and reflective post. I, like you, have three children. They are all boys as opposed to your three girls. They are also spread further apart than your neatly spaced daughters. My oldest (now 25) is in grad school. He was so ready to go to college that when the time came, we both embraced it and there were no tears. My middle son was crabby leading up to his leaving, much the same as your daughter. Again, no tears from either of us and in fact, he “dismissed us” after lunch on the day we dropped him off. My youngest is a senior in HS this year. He is also more than ready to go. But, I am sure it might be different again with our third. I very much enjoyed your post and will have to consider writing one of my own a year from now!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This brings back so many memories of goodbyes that I don’t know how to respond. That’s the sign of great writing, it hits home. This hits home. I can see those days and my response to each of them and to other goodbyes that have been so hard.


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