My Baby Is Off to College. A New Chapter. For All of Us.


It doesn’t hit you until they are gone. Sure, we have been talking about it for a while, preparing in every way possible but it doesn’t hit you until the quiet takes over. The abruptness of it all is what is so hard. Until that time, you are going 100 mph, there is activity in the house, you are checking off all the boxes to get ready for college, shopping, packing and then going to school and setting up a new life. You say your goodbyes and that is when life abruptly changes, in a moment, when you return home and the house is seems so quiet and empty.

We have been alone before when our children went to camp for a month and eventually for the summer. The first few days were strange but then you get used to it. This time it is different because of what it represents.  It is no longer a brief period of time when the house is quiet.

For 21 years, our life has revolved around the day to day activities of our children. That time has come to a close. Now they will return but as “visitors” rather than residents. At least that is what we are planning….

Their departure represents a new set of chapters and also reminds us of all the years that have actually passed while we were busy going to school events, sports practices, baseball, basketball, football games and countless other activities. We come up for air now and realize our youth is behind us.  Children seem to make you feel younger, regardless of the number of candles on the cake. My husband and I look at each other as we walk through our sons’ college campus. We both are envious, wishing we could do it all over again, especially knowing what we do now. Our time has passed and we will live vicariously through our children.

Those who have been through the process of raising children will tell you, “It goes so fast.”  I have to admit, there were many moments I wondered what they were talking about. Life with children has its ups and downs and there were certain moments where I would think of the trials and tribulations of the day, children in tow, thinking this is not going so fast.


Life is busy thinking about what’s for dinner, where we need to be, what is next on the agenda. It is not until it comes to a sudden halt that I start reflecting, looking at all the family photos and realizing it went so fast. How did that happen? It is all a blur. Now what?

I reflect on what I observe around me. People raising children, micromanaging their every move. What they eat, what they say, what they wear, what they watch. Everything they do. We can be very controlling, so protective and we manage everything. And then one day all of that changes. They start eating junk food, swearing, engaging in friendships we may not approve of, drinking, smoking, having sex and we have to readjust. Those doctor’s appointments we religiously scheduled and held our children’s hand now turn into “I am sorry, he is 18 and we can’t discuss anything with you.”

We take control over the little things but realize that it is no longer about control. We have done everything we could to provide our children with the tools to leave the nest and it is now up to them to control their future. I think our adjustment is harder than that of my parents because they didn’t micromanage. They were often removed and let us grow up faster.

I need to let go. The worry will not go away but will change, as I will not know their every move. They will make their own choices. They will take risks that make me shudder. Each night I will say a prayer that they will stay safe.

Though our children may not make all the same choices we may make, the hope is that we have given them a tool box for making their own decisions. We are proud of who they have become and it is time to let them fly.

Still, I give my advice as my youngest heads out the door. That is the constant that will never change. Our support and and advice.

bullet-list-red-02Explore and take advantage of all that is available to you

bullet-list-red-02Take a class in astronomy or art history because this is the time in your life you can do it

bullet-list-red-02Try a new club or sport because once you start working full-time this will be hard to do

bullet-list-red-02Always be true to yourself. Step back and take a deep breath when the going gets tough and you feel pressure. Believe in yourself and know you are strong.

bullet-list-red-02You have worked so hard to be given this new opportunity. Seize it. You start with a clean slate. You determine what you will do and who you will be.

I won’t miss:

imagesThe mess

imagesDirty dishes in the sink

imagesLooking for a beer or any alcoholic drink or favorite food for that matter, and realizing it is all gone

imagesThe late nights waiting and worrying

imagesThe tv blaring in the middle of my house with some unappealing program

imagesNot being able to find any of the car keys

imagesMaking a full course dinner to learn that they are going out with their friends

I will miss:

bullet-css2The smiles and humor

bullet-css2The conversations

bullet-css2The trips to the golf course, bowling alley, movie theater and other pursuits

bullet-css2The companionship

bullet-css2My children, who have been my world and seemed to belong to me. Now they belong to themselves and to the world.

It is kind of like turning 50. You think about it for months and months, dreading the day. And then when the day passes you realize it isn’t so bad after all. A new energy takes over.

I will:

small-green-checkmarkClean my house

small-green-checkmarkOrganize their rooms

small-green-checkmarkStart making the food I like

small-green-checkmarkReconnect with friends

small-green-checkmarkTalk to my dogs even more than I do now

small-green-checkmarkTake control of my own life

small-green-checkmarkSign up for that Spanish class that I have been talking about but never did

small-green-checkmarkPlan some spontaneous trips

small-green-checkmarkDetermine my next chapter

As the days, go by I will ease into my new chapter a life without the chaos, the activity, my children.


And just when I start to really get used to it, they will be back. And I will have to adjust all over again.


About Shari

I am a two-time cancer survivor and patient advocate. Diagnosed as a young adult, at age 25 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had to quickly face the reality of life’s curveballs. My treatment offered a potential cure while at the same time, underestimated the long term side effects including a secondary cancer (breast cancer) nine years later. Shortly after my breast cancer treatment ended, my youthful, seemingly healthy mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and passed a year later. I have lived the cancer experience as a patient and a family member/ caregiver and understand both sides. Life after treatment is often challenging emotionally and physically and there is a gap in providing needed support. I don’t consider cancer a gift as it is not something I would ever want to give to someone. Rather, I view cancer as an opportunity; one I received at an early point in my life to live intentionally, understanding how things can change at any moment. I live without regrets, fully understanding the gift and fragility of life.
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6 Responses to My Baby Is Off to College. A New Chapter. For All of Us.

  1. Kathleen says:

    Fall…………….in general, a time for change and fresh starts. Love the pic with the remaining “kids at home” at the table (including your husband, of course). The picture captures the new quiet in the home. 🙂


  2. Shari says:

    No matter how old we get, I think we all have the “back to school” feeling. Yes, the dogs are now front and center for sure and I think they like it!


  3. Linda Kane says:

    This is fabulous as all the others are. I don’t even have kids but can still relate to so much of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shari says:

    Thanks Linda- as always for reading and your comments.


  5. hudsonww says:

    You never fail to strike a chord, Shari, and get me thinking of a similar time with my family. You have so many people looking forward to Sunday evenings, even though this week it was Monday. I did love the photo, and your reference to a Susan Polis Schutz book. I think you did it once before, and I told you she is a sorority sister of mine, was a year behind me, and grew up in Peekskill, New York. It’s a small world.

    Just imagine all the wonderful things you will have time to do now. I look forward to hearing all about them.

    xx, oo, Janet

    Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2015 01:10:34 +0000 To:


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