Help! Oldest daughter going off to college. We need support

<p>Gosh--reading all of this has stirred up so many thoughts/memories. I was the first to leave home for college in my family (150 years ago) and I still remember packing up stuff the night before and for some reason we all started playing charades. (One of my brothers rhymed "Oz" with "bras," which he grabbed out of my suitcase.) Not planned, but we must have had a very low-key dinner at home and we all just hung together as a family.</p>

<p>I send my own oldest off in a few weeks, but I feel like I've been crying for four years (his middle school graduation is when it hit me). I almost feel like I'm at the acceptance stage, although who knows what those last few days will be like. Most of his friends will already be gone, although the same group that put together a graduation party is talking about a send-off party before any of them leave. I hadn't thought about the night before he goes--probably dinner at home and some family time. Life does go on. I think it'll help me tremendously having school/fall sports in full gear already for his younger brothers. And I am tremendously comforted by really believing that he's heading off to a situation that will work out well for him.</p>

<p>It's not just that we parents will be missing our child, it's really the end of an era, of a stage in our own lives. It's normal to mourn, even though we're happy our kids are moving on and doing well. </p>

<p>For 18 years we've thought of ourselves as "parents", but what is a parent if they don't have a kid around? There is a sense of loss, especially for a stay-at-home oriented parent. </p>

<p>It's a time of adjustment. Give yourself a break, let yourself be sad and happy all at the same time. Then find others in the same boat and talk with them. Then re-discover old interests you set aside while raising kids - or find a new interest! Read, exercise, re-decorate your house, take up a craft or a hobby or a sport. Revel in having time for it to be all about YOU instead of everything being oriented around your kids (and lets face it, it has been about the kids for the last 18 years, hasn't it?)</p>

<p>(Note to self: take your own advice. Get off CC and accomplish something! Go for a walk! Re-paint a room!)</p>

<p>S2 is my youngest and is to leave for college in a couple of weeks. He has recently endured a tragic event in his life. My thought process has swung around completely from how much I will miss him to how much I desperately hope this new start will mean the world to him and he will be able to move on. </p>

<p>My advice is to let your kids know you love them every day and that you love them enough to send them off to find a new life for themselves without guilt or sorrow.</p>

<p>We drove WashDadJr to school 2,000 miles away. We might a week-long family vacation and had a great time together. When I got back, I headed off the next day for Scout camp for a week. After THAT I still get drippy eyes when I walked into WashDadJr's room. Then, I just decided to call him whenever I thought of him. Those calls lasted anywhere from 15 seconds to a half-hour and it was like he wasn't gone. Fortunately, he still likes us and doesn't mind things like that. </p>

<p>He's been home all summer and it's been great. He's doing an internship where I work, and I like the fact that we get up in the morning and go off to work together. He leaves in three weeks (no family road trip this year) and we are not looking forward to it. I don't think he is either.</p>

<p>In other words, it won't be as bad you expect.</p>

<p>I am so hoping that it won't be as bad as I expect. I have three other children, and am looking forward to forging stronger relationships with each of them. So much of the last year has been focused on D1. We've started referring to her college as "the baby" because we talk about it so much, it's like another child! The other kids and I decided to give her a box with a family picture on top and each of us plan to write her a letter or give her something funny to include in the box. I also ordered her a "someone loves me in xx(hometown)xx" shirt - I'm starting to put my feelings on her - assuming she might be a little homesick? I know she will do great, and I'm excited for her. It's just that I'm not ready for this change. I don't want to lose the great relationship we have. Maybe we won't? But somehow, I know it will change. I think I'll take a PPs advice and watch College Roadtrip so I can wallow in self-pity. I've worked to hard to have a good relationship with my daughter, I just hope it carries into the future. ugh.</p>

<p>The time I cried the most was when college bound daughter was saying good bye to her sister. That was the relationship that I think was going to be the most disrupted. No one cried until they hugged!!</p>

<p>And of course your relationships will change, if it didn't it would mean your daughter/son isn't changing. So embrace it.</p>

<p>I will see my D for maybe 4-5 weeks all year, including winter break. We talk, she called me today while waiting in line at Wholefoods, but our physical proximitey will be minimal. And I couldn't be happier for her. </p>

<p>Life is about moving on and if we are lucky enough to be able to fulfill their dreams, there is no reason to be sad. If she was home this summer, she would have gone nuts.</p>

<p>What will be amazing the new relationships you will have with those "left behind"- your younger kids, your spouse, yourself, your friends, all those will take on a different dynamic.</p>

<p>Suddenly, the younger kids will take on new roles, and it is sooo good for them. My oldest D was a real talker and she would just be a big part of the conversation and her sister was more of a watcher. Now, when we do dinners with friends and families, it the younger sister's chance to shine, without older sister over shadowing her. </p>

<p>My friend is so excited for her oldest to go to college, and that is partly because she is looking forward to that time with younger D.</p>

<p>And we all need to admit, our oldest usually did draw the attention, just because they were older, etc.</p>

<p>So again, embrace this!! And instead of feeling sad about the oldest leaving, feel so happy that you will have more time with the younger ones</p>

<p>
[quote]
I think I'll take a PPs advice and watch College Roadtrip so I can wallow in self-pity.

[/quote]

You know, I've come to think that a little wallowing in self-pity is not a bad thing. With S1 in the midst of a big heartbreaking breakup, I have been very sad. On Saturday no one was home, and I put on the xmradio on my computer and listened to country music all day. Oh, my, there are some really sad country breakup songs. I cried every time one came on. But by that night, I really felt better. </p>

<p>It's kind of like facing your worst thoughts and fears and then realizing that it won't possibly be that bad. In some of those country songs, for instance, the guy is living in sadness for years for this one true love he lost. Well, we all know that it very rarely happens that way. People move on.</p>

<p>Speaking of wallowing in self-pity, I'm a little concerned about dropping S2 off at his college (Chapman U.). At the end of orientation, at dark, all the kids and parents are to gather outside and they have some kind of good-bye thing where everyone is holding candles, and then the parents leave. Candles?!?! Do they just want a bunch of hysterical mothers on their hands?!</p>

<p>K- the candle thing is a bit overdramatic, imo. </p>

<p>Our country doesn't even do that sending our troops off to war.</p>

<p>I used to think I'd have no trouble with empty-nest syndrome at all. But suddenly, spending all this time researching colleges with my daughter, imagining her in one of those distant places...it's starting to hit me.</p>

<p>I'll still have her younger sister at home, though, and I do look forward to having more one-on-one time with her. As the second child she's never had her parents all to herself. I think it'll be a special time.</p>

<p>MY D is a senior, but yet I still remember all the emotions when she went to college. It is hard and some good teary eye chick flicks together before she left gave us excuses to cry! We are very close and she had gone through a hard time just before leaving and unfortunately the source of her hard time was going to the same college, but she survived, it has been an exhilarating experience and she has shared so much with me.</p>

<p>My advice...patience...wait for the stories when she is ready she will share. IM is great, I too have it on, but wait for her to initiate the chat (ususally hahaha).</p>

<p>It is the beginning of a new era, your gut tells you that this is the big step away from home. I know, as we approach graduation, just as I was getting comfortable withh er being in the safety of her college life, this too will end and a new era begins.</p>

<p>Busymom, this is what we do:
We have a little unspoken ritual, although I have heard her affectionately joke with her friends about it. Whenever we move her stuff I am the one who puts her bed together, sheets, blanket, comforter, pillows, a couple of stuffed animals (yes sorry she took them with her!) It is like I am tucking her into college. Knowing D, it is the only time the bed looks this nice...but I find it therapeudic and she seems to enjoy it. Our little "dance" she unpacks her clothes and I make the bed:) It works for us!</p>

<p>At the end of orientation, at dark, all the kids and parents are to gather outside and they have some kind of good-bye thing where everyone is holding candles, and then the parents leave. Candles?!?! Do they just want a bunch of hysterical mothers on their hands?! (sorry Timely - I forget how to do quotes!)</p>

<p>Thanks timely - I chuckled at that one. I could only imagine the hysteria. I do think it's good to wallow a bit (only a bit). We've been spending so much time "talking up" college, that we really havent had a chance to focus on the depth of our relationship and the transition we are about to go through. It's not really sad..in so many ways we are both so excited. It's a transition, there is something being lost and something being gained. I do think a good cry helps to deal with the sad emotions. I like the idea of having a ritual when we leave each other - we have always had some bizarre ritual - every night before she goes to bed we have this ridiculous goodnight scenario which we have abbreviated in text form for when she is away at night. I wonder if that will continue? It seems too demanding of me to want it to continue, but I know I will be sad the first time she does not say good night in our "special" way. We've never had a night when we didnt say goodnight or at least talk during the day, including while she was in France for three weeks last summer and on senior trip. I know I need that ritual more than she does, but it will be interesting to see what happens. Has anyone watched "chick flicks" with their daughter and found one that helps them to appreciate their relationship? I know I sound ridiculously pathetic on here. I am so excited for my daughter. She has worked for this her whole life and I know will be wonderfully happy. I am excited for her to be happy and to experience many new things. I'm just sad that I won't see her every day. Change isn't easy, but I know it will be okay.</p>

<p>We just watched College Road Trip and sobbed hysterically at the end. Wallowing is definitely therapeutic. We said goodbye to D's boyfriend today and she's out right now saying goodbye to another friend. Where did the time go?</p>

<p>BusyMom - as a gift to each other, get those little frames on which you can record a little message and record your goodnight ritual to each other. Then you'll have it when you need to hear it. And you can imagine that she's listening to it too.</p>

<p>Thanks cartera - that is GREAT advice. Little things will help. I know everything will be great for her and for me - this transition is just hard. Maybe because it's the first one? Maybe because it's my oldest daughter? Whatever it is, I hope it's easier with the next three!</p>

<p>I have a rising senior and a rising sophomore and reading this thread makes me cry. I can only image how bad I'll be next year! 2 of my friends also have rising seniors (their youngest children) and they are planning a big "retirement" party for next fall. Even though I will still have one at home, I am going to participate. Maybe all the party planning will help me keep my sanity when Ds goes away.</p>

<p>Three weeks ago, I left my older child/only daughter in her dorm room at her college 1300 miles away. She's doing a 5-week "second summer session" that she really didn't want to go to, then coming home for less than a week, and then heading back there for fall semester.</p>

<p>The first night she was gone, I tried to go to sleep and I couldn't. I just cried. She was very alone there. The summer RA was and continues to be invisible. The kids in the 5 day a week, 3 hours a day, class she is taking had all been together first summer session and all are older than her/none live in the dorms on campus. Her roommate lives in the same town as the college and goes home Thursday night every weekend.</p>

<p>Since then, we text and IM, and we talk for at least 30 seconds to touch bases on something nearly every day. It is okay. She is very social, so of course she has made some friends and found some things to do on the weekends. And in the fall, weekends will be full of fun things like football games, she'll live in sociable honors dorm, and she'll have a fellow out of state student as a roommate. (They found each other on facebook and have been corresponding.) I am sure that when I am leaving her in her dorm for the fall semester, it will be okay. She is excited for fall. What made it so hard this summer was that she really would have rather had five more weeks at home with family and friends. (Her academic department made her an offer she couldn't refuse, so she knew she had to be there and wanted to be there, academically.)</p>

<p>I am sure looking forward to seeing her when she gets home in two weeks. We are all looking forward to her being home for a month at Christmas time. Her 14-year-old brother really misses her a lot.</p>

<p>Twice when she asked me to send her something she forgot, I enjoyed filling a US Mail priority mail fixed rate box with the item she forgot and a lot of other fun treats. That helped with my "I miss my far away child" problem, which I have dubbed "reverse homesickness."</p>

<p>Here my problem, now that my daughter is gone.
I have no one at home to talk to.
Husband doesn't particularly like to "talk" and son will only talk about sports.
I have told my friends I need to start reading Sports Illustrated or watching Sports Center so I can have some conversation in this house!
:)
And don't even get me started about the idea of occasionally taking my son to the mall when I need a shopping buddy...</p>

<p>Last year I found some stupid excuse to be mad at my daughter when I was leaving her. Then she asked me not to leave mad because she had a present for me. She had made a photo album of us - best of times - to thank us for everything we have done for her. I cried for 4 hours all the way home. My husband just drove with his eyes straight on the road, not a word to me. He was just as sad as I was.</p>

<p>She is leaving in 2.5 weeks. She is so excited about going back, but I am sad already.</p>

<p>Busymom, your relationship with your daughter sounds so much like ours! I'm very lucky to have close relationships with all three of my kids (the older two are boys). But it is different with a daughter. I think I had a knot in my stomach the entire summer before she left. It didn't help that she had a slight panic attack just weeks before she was about to leave ("It's the wrong school, it isn't for me!"). But we went, and she survived, and so did I. It was not easy. She knew no one and was 1200 miles from home. She worked hard on making it work, and because she's not a fan of big parties or drinking, it was that much harder. But she found friends, and immersed herself in clubs and activities. We're still just as close, and it's still hard to let her go after each break, but it'll be easier for you because you have the other three to keep you busy. And you know it's as it should be. And with cell phones and im's, it's easy to keep in touch.</p>

<p>Isn't it great to have this problem? I am SO thankful to have such a great relationship with my D(s). We've always been close, but over the last year she's experienced so many "firsts" and we've stayed close throughout. She's such a great kid. I once asked her what I did right to make her so great, and she said "I know you are always there for me". I think that's what's so hard about her departure - I won't feel like I am "there" in the same sense. I can't pick her up at parties when she wants to come home in the middle of the night...I can't take her shopping whenever (both) of us want. MidwestMom - I have a bit of the same problem - I can't <em>talk</em> to everyone else in the same way as I talk to my oldest D. I do think that the absence of my oldest D will cause me to get closer to the other three at home, so that will be a good thing. Threekids - it's great to hear you say that you are just as close - that's what I worry about. In this era of texting - it's so easy to replace talking/physical contact with texting for her - for me...not so easy. My H is handling all of this very differently - it's almost as if the sadness annoys him. My D is going to school a week early for a pre orientation trip, and then we are bringing her stuff to her. My H wants to drive up (5 hours) the same day, drop the stuff off, and turn around and go home. Um...Not happening. It's taking a lot of work to prep him!</p>