She's Leaving Home Bye Bye
June 11, 2012 6:51 PM   Subscribe

It's my kids's (only child) last nite in high school and I'm feeling sad (which is a rare feeling for me to have). What can I do to cheer up or should I just sit with it?

I know on some level I'm overreacting. I feel so good about my daughter embarking on her new journey. She's a great kid. This life transition thing seems to be tougher for me than her. Shall I distract myself (lots of spell tower, snacking, etc. or just be with it the sadness which is much harder than it sounds.
posted by Xurando to Human Relations (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
start planning the awesome vacation you will be able to take now that you don't have to take care of a kid at home. what have you been putting off? what have you always wanted to do? what did you love to do before you had a kid, but had to give it up? are there any old friends who live far away that you've lost touch with? maybe you can plan a trip to visit them.

... ending high school does not mean the end of supporting your child at all. it just means you support her in a different way.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:56 PM on June 11, 2012

Why not be with your daughter?

Both of your solutions involve you wallowing in self pity. She's leaving home! When I left for college, that was it. I moved out forever. Take these last few days/weeks/months and spend them with your kid, getting to know her as the adult that she is.

Go to restaurants together, take up a hobby together, take a short road trip together, something. This is not the time for you to become Mopey Dad.
posted by phunniemee at 6:58 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

My parents started a Friday cocktail hour: Mom would make easy-but-tasty treats of the sort that they normally wouldn't indulge in, and Dad would try a new cocktail every week (he's an awesome bartender). Sometimes they'd invite friends over, and sometimes they just did it with the two of them. It also gave them something to look forward to throughout the week.
posted by smirkette at 7:21 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I assume you're looking for solutions for tonight in particular, and kiddo is off celebrating.

Why don't you be productively sad and plan stuff for her? If she's going off to college, start putting together a little care basket to surprise her with when she leaves, something like that. Go through old baby photos and scan a selection so she can have digital copies. Look at dorm furniture checklists and see what you've got already, think about making a shower bag, etc.
posted by jacalata at 7:25 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think there is a big difference between sadness and self pity. And it is a bittersweet sadness I'm talking about. I'm also talking short term rather than long term. We'll all be alright down the road a few weeks.
posted by Xurando at 7:28 PM on June 11, 2012

Take this time to write her a letter. Or journal for yourself. Memories, stories, wishes for the future.
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 7:51 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go find your kid. Tell them how you feel, from your heart, pretty much what you wrote here. That she's a great person, that you love her, that you are sad this stage of her life is over and that you look forward to seeing what the next stage brings. It's OK to tell your kid your sad and that her ending highschool feels bittersweet for you, she is probably a little sad and scared and it all feels bittersweet to her too. Maybe you cry a little with her, maybe you don't. I suggest ending it all with a big smoopy hug and then going out for ice cream, because ice cream solves everything.

If she's out write her a nice letter from the heart, leave it on her pillow for when she gets home, then go out for ice cream/beer/pizza/a funny movie with a friend or other family member.

It's OK to feel a little sad at big life events for family or yourself, it's Ok to express it, it's Ok to cry a little if needed, just don't wallow. While she maybe growing out of being your little girl, now you get the fun of getting to know her as an adult.
posted by wwax at 8:06 PM on June 11, 2012

It's ok to be sad.
posted by mazola at 8:13 PM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Sometimes it's good to sit for a night and be nostalgic and sad.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:28 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites] mom purchased a super expensive camera the same day I left for college. She jokingly referred to it as her "third child" and reasoned that she had to step up her photography hobby to keep herself distracted, now that I was off on my own. Is there a hobby that you'd be interested in trying, or that was maybe put on the backburner for some time and you'd like to start up again? You could spend some time in these next few weeks researching options & equipment you'd need.

(When my brother moved out two years later, they bought...a TiVo. I'm not really sure what that means).
posted by castlebravo at 8:36 PM on June 11, 2012

My oldest graduates this weekend. She is going away with friends this weekend to celebrate. I plan on drinking lots of beer. Going to miss her! I figure if I declare victory in the parenting war (my daughter is a great kid who makes good decisions) I can celebrate rather than commiserate. Either way involves drinking beer so might as well be happy about it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:44 PM on June 11, 2012

Nothing wrong with being sad. Now would be a great time to go through and organize old family pictures. You could even make a Shutterfly album celebrating the last 18 years.
posted by MadMadam at 6:25 AM on June 12, 2012

You know, when I went off to college, I was under the impression that my parents were kind of blase about the whole thing. They didn't cry or drag things out, they didn't nag me, they didn't tell me how to act, and they didn't even telephone me because they were afraid of interrupting my independent life. I was on my own. I figured they were pleased to have the house to themselves again and devote themselves to their work full-time (they are artist types). I certainly didn't feel unloved, but I admit I was a teeny bit hurt that it didn't seem like they would miss me at all.

Several years later I heard my mom telling the story of the day she dropped me off. Apparently it was really, really wrenching for her. She managed to keep it together until I turned away and walked in to my new dorm, and then she cried all the way home. My dad was lonely for quite a while.

So, you don't want to make your daughter feel bad for leaving, but I really think it's OK, even a positive thing, for her to know that you're sad. If you like her company, and if you genuinely value her presence - tell her that. Tell her you'll really, really miss her. It's a huge compliment.
posted by Cygnet at 8:16 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I figure if I declare victory in the parenting war (my daughter is a great kid who makes good decisions) I can celebrate rather than commiserate.

I'm 25, so I left home for college 7 years ago, my younger brother 5 years ago. Empty nest syndrome hit my parents pretty hard. What probably made it worse for them was that neither of us had any future plans to move back to our small quiet depressing hometown.

I suggest being honest with your daughter about your feelings... its good to leave knowing you're loved. I'm not the type to get homesick, but I did miss my parents, and college was so fun and exciting and busy that I probably neglected them a bit while I was there. Always something fun and exciting to do at college.

But now I'm graduated and working a 9-5er, makin the parents proud. I call home alot more often, just to say hi and shoot the shit. Sometimes my conversations with my dad last 2 minutes, but its a conversation nonetheless and we both get a good feeling from it. It takes my dad 2 minutes to convey what takes my mom 30 minutes.... my mom loves to pour local / family gossip on me, and though I don't care in the least what she's talking about I humor her. We try to visit each other when we can, maybe every 3-4 weeks.

Its not the same as living at home obviously, but I'm also not the same person now that I was at 18. I think thats what'll give you some comfort, when you realize that your 18 years of hard work raising your daughter have paid off, and she's now a self-sufficient human being and is at the point in her life to start experiencing things and figuring out her future.

In my parents, and all my friends parents, I've seen them start (or restart) new hobbies and find new friendships and social circles after the kids leave. My parents just realized they have a ton more cashflow now without supporting us, and are spending their time traveling and roadtripping. My dad's buying project cars to work on. My mom's going to happy hours with her nurse friends. Meanwhile, I'm right where my dad was at age 25, keeping the cycle goin.
posted by el_yucateco at 8:40 AM on June 12, 2012

I didn't get along particularly well with my parents as a teenager. I spent most of my time at home by myself, in my room, with the door closed. I thought they were glad to see the back of me when I left for college. My younger sister later told me they did miss me.

I think I would have liked to hear that they actually did like having me at home, and did miss me when I was gone.

It would have been really nice to hear from them if they thought I was a great kid, too.
posted by Anne Neville at 1:51 PM on June 12, 2012

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