My firstborn is leaving the nest: Here’s how I’m (not) coping


My firstborn is moving out, leaving the nest, spreading her wings. Today I’m sharing how I’m not coping with my oldest moving out.
A kid turning 18, graduating high school, and/or moving out of the familial home to pursue adulting is an emotional time for all parents
A kid turning 18, graduating high school, and/or moving out of the familial home to pursue adulting is an emotional time for all parents. However, I am almost certain this process affects moms the most, children are our heartbeat.

I am having my first experience with a baby bird ditching the nest at the end of this school year, 2022 graduate! She is turning 18 in December 2021; I AM NOT READY.

Holding your child’s hand for roughly 18 years guiding them through life then feeling like you suddenly must let go is traumatizing. Cruel and unusual punishment if you ask me.

I vote to extend the age of release to 21 at the earliest! I do not think it is reasonable to expect me to impart the vast knowledge I have amassed over 30 something years to my children over a mere 18 years!

For most of the time we are learning ourselves and flying by the seat of our pants. It is like taking the final exam on the first day of the class! No real training, no manual, but very high expectations.

Moms, we all know that we do not cease to be their parent when they leave the nest. However, the sense of control and influence either decreases or ceases altogether when our children call themselves “grown.” 

As I have been riding the thrilling yet terrifying emotional roller coaster that is releasing one of my nest occupants, I have not met one single person enjoying the ride–their hands are not up and there is no toothy grin.

First, I have been listening to a co-worker repeatedly break down in our weekly meetings for over a month at the mention of her son leaving home and going into the armed forces. Although having a child going into the armed forces has its own unique challenges, and something we are all so grateful for their service, the root of the issue is still letting go.

Then, my best friend in Michigan put her 18 year old on a plane solo today for the first time for her to visit her boyfriend in California, yes BOYFRIEND IN CALIFORNIA! We wept together.

The emotions a mom undergoes due to their kids leaving home is multi-faceted.

Joy is one of the emotions that Moms like me have experienced. As the Mom you have defeated the boss level of parenthood getting your child to adulthood. Yeah, there will be other matches but getting them to 18 mostly unscathed is an accomplishment.

Relief, happiness, and joy are feelings a Mom has realizing that her child is venturing out to hopefully live their best life.

One less human that relies on you daily.

One less person bothering you in the bathroom.

Mom is gaining some free time that was once going to all their extracurriculars.

One less child largely ignoring your existence.

I am starting a petition that moms get an upgraded version of a push gift at the 18th birthday party to represent JOY.

So, nest emptying coping technique #1 – buy yourself or guilt your significant other into buying you a goooood gift to celebrate YOUR accomplishment Mom!

Another emotion is guilt.

Guilt for feeling like you have not efficiently prepared them for adulthood. Unless you have been a perfect mother, I don’t know one but it could happen, it is natural to feel insecure about the job you have done thus far. Have you successfully prepared them to deal with life’s challenges, have you taught them to be kind, can they survive on their own, heck can they properly wash their bodies or a dish?! Did you expose them to too many things, or not enough?

Two gifts I’m eyeing for myself:

a mommy makeover 

-an international trip, because we never got around to it with kids

Coping technique #2 – scrapbooking, journaling, put your “nuggets” on paper somehow and give it to them as a gift before they leave.

Write down all the things you wish you knew earlier in life, reiterate all the things it seems they did not listen to before, share your own pitfalls so that hopefully they will not repeat them. (Like Emily Lay’s ‘be a person camp’ she does for her kids.)

My mother would give me words of wisdom and tell me, “Put it on a shelf, you will understand one day.” Goodness was she right. I was 19 when all the wisdom she had told me over the years started to become clear.

I cried in my car in between my college courses and wrote her a letter to thank her for the knowledge and apologize for not listening sooner. Am I hoping for my kids to do the same? Uh, yeah!

Coping technique #3 – setup some sort of tracking on the phone and/or car of the nest abandoner.

Another emotion, a true staple in life, FEAR. Every minute we cannot see our children is frightening. Now they just leave for extended periods of time in this big scary world. As Elsa says, “Into the unknown” they go!

Being able to know they are safe even when they are ignoring your calls and texts will put your mind at ease. Who knows one day they may thank you for it when they leave their phone in Starbucks or misplace their car after taking an Uber home after the party!

My mother advised that she still worries about her “children” that are in their 30s and 50s so some of these feelings are here to stay….but she assured me it is all worth it!

Don’t mind me setting up a family account for life 350 for her…


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