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From a Mom Who Just Sent Her Oldest Kid Off to College

Five days ago, my oldest son packed up his car and drove himself to college 950 miles away home.

It was an emotional moment for our entire family when he finally drove away. We were all crying.

Yesterday, he was starting kindergarten. Today, he’s all moved in to his college dorm and starting classes. Out there. On his own. No. Big. Deal.

When he was born, I was twenty-eight years old and clueless about being a parent.

Today, I’m forty-six and just as clueless about sending a kid off to college.

You spend eighteen years preparing your kid for this but as parents are we ever fully prepared?

What have I Iearned during this parenting journey?  To listen.

You can never be fully prepared for what happens in the adventure of parenting but you can always listen.

Listen to mentors who have gone through the current parenting stage you’re in. Listen to their doctor. Listen to podcasts. Listen to (or read) books.

Most importantly, listen to your child.

Listen and then slowly let go.

“Parenting is one long process of gradually releasing our grip on the reins”. Gary Thomas

Every stage of parenting has so many elements of listening and slowly letting go.

Allow the control you have over them as infants to slowly change to influence as they grow up. Your influence will leave a legacy on their heart, not your control.

I considered titling this post, “From a Mom Who Just Sent Her Oldest Kid Off to College Who’s Hiding in Her Closet in the Fetal Position!” because parenting isn’t easy and it may even be a little scary at times.

It becomes less scary and more adventurous when you relinquish your control and trust your kid.

I’m writing this post mostly for myself because in the next seven years, I get to hide in my closet send three more kids off on their own adventure.

Listen. Slowly let go. Repeat.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Jenny Young

    Looking back I think we begin letting go at birth. I also think it’s much easier if we make a conscious effort to slowly let go by giving more responsibility & freedom as they age.

    From a grandmother… gets easier, especially when they bring home the first grandbaby!

    • Caroline TeSelle

      Oohh! Grandchildren! That will be a fun adventure!

  2. Jennifer

    My youngest started his first day of college today 700 miles away at the same school as his sister. I’m thankful they are near each other…. but I’m sorry to tell you that it doesn’t get any easier. Empty nest syndrome is a weird yin yang of post partum depression!

    • Caroline TeSelle

      I’m secretly hoping the rest of my kids go to the same college for that reason!

  3. Seana Turner

    I must confess how impressed I was by the “drove himself to college” line. Moving both of my girls into school was something of a big deal, with a heavily laden car driven by the parents. Neither of my girls was allowed to have a car at school freshman year. I wish him – and you – all the best. You adjust pretty quickly. Then they come home and you get sad all over again…

  4. Gilda Bolton

    Thank you for this post! Six days ago, I dropped my one and only (daughter) off at college about 300 miles away! The distance does not matter; my nest is still very empty! I was thinking last week about whether or not I wish I had more children at home, but I know that doesn’t matter either: the missing her would still be the same in my heart. Right now, I thank God for the privilege and blessing of motherhood, and I embrace this season of more time with Him!!

    • Caroline TeSelle

      What a great perspective Gilda! We have so much to be thankful for!

  5. Caroline Starr Rose

    Reading this as I across the table from my senior, who has Tuesday / Thursday early release. Thank you for this and blessings to you.

    • Caroline TeSelle

      Big hug for you!

  6. Pam

    My feeling is the very hardest part of being a parent is “letting go”. My children didn’t go off to college but rather went locally. Still as the years past and they moved on I thought I would die. I was a single parent so we were always the three musketeers. I thought I had prepared myself for that time by keeping involved in things for myself. I had remarried and life was good, but when they left I wanted to run after them and just hold on forever. My children are both married now and I have 2 grandchildren but it still pains me to realize how separate we are now. I live in VA and they are in NJ and it hurts everyday to be apart. However, in my heart and soul I know it’s how it should be and they are good adults. I did a good job raising them to be responsible adults. It doesn’t stop the yearning for your babies ?

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