Heading off…

Third child.  Third time I’ve sent a child off to college, and still it is not easy.

Friday I got Jared settled into his dorm room for his first year of college. Made his bed, stocked his dorm fridge with yogurt and OJ and milk, bought him cleaning supplies and ravioli and trail mix and Kleenex. Went with him to pick up his books. Then he and I rode bikes around on campus so he could scope out his classes. Good company, good fun.

Since he had things going on near home all weekend, his first night in the dorms didn’t come til last night. Last night home felt lonelier. Not empty by any stretch. Amanda and her husband Ben were here for dinner, as was Ben’s sister. 13 people around the dinner table still, plenty for pinochle and Settlers of Catan and Killer Bunnies. But he wasn’t there, and I barely made it half an hour at a time without thinking of him, wondering what he was doing, missing his presence.

The only advantage of having done this twice before is the knowledge that resignation will eventually set in, that his absence will begin to feel normal. The missing won’t always be this sharp. And yet somehow sending this third child out is also a reminder that all of our children will be out one day, living their lives, making our home only a stopover point and no longer a place to reside.

I’m thrilled for Jared. He’s going to enjoy this. He’s well grounded and smart and hard working and friendly and ready for this adventure. I’m proud of him, and I wouldn’t have him miss this for the world.

But still, the ache.


  1. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 He looks so happy!!!! 🙂 I miss him! Miss you too!

  2. A lovely post. Makes me think of when I’ll be sending my little one to college and he is only 4 years old…

  3. I’d like to wish Jared good luck with his new college adventure.

  4. Best wishes, Jared! That mother-son picture is so sweet.

  5. Best Wishes for a good year at college 🙂

  6. Awwww… Best of luck to him & to you! I get teary-eyed just thinking about sending my step-son off to college, and he doesn’t even live with us! I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when it’s time for my daughter to go.

  7. What an AWESOME picture of the two of you. If there’s one thing I think after reading your blog for the past year or so, it’s that you and John must prepared him well for college!

  8. I feel your pain Mary!
    I let go of my first one in May and I thought I would just die from the pain in my heart and the lump in my throat.
    I had to use this mantra.
    And our kids have no idea how much it takes to let them go do they? But they will know one day, won’t they?
    And now I have a 16 year old and I can see the “second act” playing out in the not so distant future.
    But maybe, just maybe I will be a little more prepared this next time around.

  9. I have a lump in my throat as I look at my four children. Sure, I have a school age child, a preschool child, a toddler and a baby… they are 7 and under, but yours were all small at one time too. *gulp* I wish him the best at school.. and I know he’ll make his mama proud!

    • I know! I sent my 7 and my 5 to school last week, and I have a toddler and a baby to keep me busy but I still grieve.

    • I know. I have a 2 year old and my hubby was telling me about a friend whose daughter went to college and it made me tear up.

  10. I only have one child, and he started 11th grade today. I’m already starting to dread the loss and it’s still 2 years away!

  11. Where is he going to college?

  12. I don’t care how many you have sent off in the past it is always difficult to let them go. Just believe in all the good you have taught him and know he wil be awesome in what he does. You should be proud that he is capable of going out there by himself, well done

  13. We really like Settlers of Catan (especially the Cities & Knights expansion). Have you played Dominion? It’s a deck-building game instead of a strategy game. It’s nice to play when you don’t want to devote 2 hours to a game — only takes 30 minutes or so to play.

  14. Oh, Mary!!! This makes me think- that could be my Grayson, my third child, someday. Wow. Thank you for sharing your stories and giving me confidence and hope that I’ll be able to do this with a happy heart someday!


  15. how sweet…and i just love the picture of you two. you are such an amazing family. best of wishes to your son! those college years are so special.

  16. This just brought tears to my eyes. I think I will purpose to enjoy our school day today a little more and spend lots more time today reading to my three year old.

  17. ugh. not at all ready for this one. i think my younger kids will miss our oldest even more than i do.

  18. Best of luck to him! I know he’ll do great. Seeing as his parents are so wonderful, and all.

    I just realized though, that when I send my third off to college I’ll be an empty nester. *sigh* That’s a buzz-kill, isn’t it? However, I’ve got 10 years to get used to that, so no worries…yet!

  19. My oldest will start 4th grade in two weeks. It seems impossible to believe she (or her brothers or sister) will ever leave me, even though I know that’s what happens. (And in fact, it’s the goal.)

    This made my heart squeeze and sigh and do all sorts of flip-flops. You love your kids well, Mary. As a younger Mom, I love seeing that.

  20. I love the pics. Very nice. Your son looks so much like you. I can only imagine your pain. My kids are still quite young, so I still have this milestone to “look forward too.” Kinda makes me sad to think about it. I don’t know if you follow 1800baskets on Facebook or if you’re interested, but looks like they’ll be giving out 3 baskets to college freshmen. I thought about you and this post when I saw it. A direct link to their Facebook post is here: http://www.facebook.com/posted.php?id=229053644398&share_id=109064439152295&comments=1#s109064439152295 …( I don’t work for them, just thought about you with it :). Take care.

  21. So sweet! And this definitely makes my milestone of sending my daughter off to kindergarten seem tame!

  22. You are exactly right about the pain — Just sent my first off to college for her second year. While it hurt to see her go again, it wasn’t as traumatic as the first year and she is happy, which makes me happy!

  23. I know. I took my second up to college last friday, worked like mad helping settle him in and left on Sunday. It was so hard, unexpectedly. foolishly, I thought it would be easier, but it wasn’t at all. So, while I AM so excited and happy for him, I get it about the sharpness…and know too the resignation does set in, is beginning too….but oh, a tough weekend. my prayers