Things I’ll Miss When My Daughter Leaves for College

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Things I’ll miss most when my daughter leaves for college

Written by: Ali Flynn

With graduation season underway, I can only imagine how many moms are holding their breath. With my daughter graduating high school this year and her leaving for college soon, I fully understand the scope of feelings that envelop a mother’s heart.

As the graduation marching tune of Pomp and Circumstance echoes the theater, we proudly sit in the bleachers with bittersweet tears in our eyes as our child walks across the stage to receive their diploma.

Yes, we’re celebrating a beautiful and important milestone in our children’s lives, but we’re also facing the harsh reality that life is about to change… in a big way. 

Regardless of where our kid’s journey takes them – college, the military, trade school, a gap year or straight into the workforce, we have to remind ourselves that this may be the end of a precious chapter in our children’s lives, but there are a thousand other fascinating pages in their book of life they have yet to read.

Still, I find myself wondering where the time went…

Even though I’ve had 18 precious years to prepare me for this moment, I’m still not ready. I’m going to miss my daughter terribly when she leaves for college. I can’t hide it… from myself, from her, from anyone else. 

If I don’t allow myself to feel, I’m ignoring who I am right now – a mom learning to let go of her baby. I’m not acknowledging that my life and my daughter’s life are about to change. I’m not opening the door to conversation with other moms giving them the reassurance that they’re not alone. And, I’m not facing up to the fact that my daughter is growing up, moving on, and leaving the nest I so lovingly created for her. 

So, I’m making a promise to myself. I’m going to feel each and every bit of it. The good, the hard, the complete and utter joy, and the bittersweet. 

But no matter how much I allow myself to feel what my heart is going through, I’m going to miss my daughter far more than words could ever express. Here are just a few things I’m going to miss when my daughter leaves for college.

Things I’m Going to Miss When My Daughter Leaves for College

The Late-Night Talks

Oh, how I’m going to miss those late-night talks when she walks in the door on a Friday night after an evening with friends. She knows I’ll wait up for her. She knows it’s “our time.” She knows that even though I’m half asleep, I’ll prop myself up in bed and listen to her every word. It’s the seemingly insignificant times like this that I’m going to miss the most.

Her Messy Bedroom

Empty water bottles, bowls and spoons, and chocolate wrappers on the nightstand. Clothes strewn all over the floor, makeup wipes on the dresser, and her shoes piled in the corner. It might be messy, but it’s my daughter’s mess. And, I know that looking at an empty, spotless bedroom is going to be so much harder to look at than her messy bedroom.

How Her Laughter Fills Our Home

Gosh, I’m going to miss how her laughter fills the house when she and her friends are hanging out in the kitchen gathered around the island swapping stories over Mac n’ Cheese. I’m going to miss hearing about their lives, the funny stories they share, and even the latest school drama. 

The Way She Hits the Snooze Button Eight Times in the Morning

While I’m busy in the kitchen making coffee and getting ready to start my day, I can hear her alarm buzzing in the distance…again and again. I’m going to miss how she hits the snooze button so many times and still can’t seem to drag herself out of bed. 

Our Spontaneous Lunch Dates

Somehow, it’s always the unplanned outings with my daughter that I treasure the most – the “Hey, wanna grab lunch?” on a Saturday afternoon or the “Let’s stop for a Starbucks” before she heads off to school. It’s our time to be together, our time to have each other all to ourselves, and my time to soak up special, fleeting moments with my daughter. Oh, how I’ll miss that. 

Her Sweet Hugs

The quick hug and “Love ya, Mom” before she heads out the door. The “I’m going to bed, Mom” hug before she lays her head on her pillow. Her warm embrace is something I’m so desperately going to miss. How is it possible to prepare a mother’s heart for this difficult void in her life?

Doing Small Things to Make Her Happy

So often, I’ll run an errand for my daughter, I’ll make her favorite snack after school, I’ll take care of her laundry when she’s swamped with exams – I love doing little things for her to make her smile and take the pressure off. Of course, I can still do some things for her when she’s away at college, but it won’t be the same. 

The Relationship She Has With Her Sisters

The grace she shows her sisters when they’re getting on her last nerve by taking, yet again, a shirt without asking… I’ll miss how she simply tells them to ask next time and how she always says yes. I’ll miss hearing them all laughing together, hanging out in the kitchen while they whip up a midnight snack, or how they share stories about their day after school. It’s not just me who’s going to miss my daughter, her sisters know all too well that life won’t be the same without her.

Listening to Her Hopes and Dreams

Her beautiful way with words, the way she opens her heart and shares her hopes, her dreams for the future, and even her fears ~ not having my girl with me day-in-and-day-out is going to be such a hard adjustment, I know. 

Having One of My Best Friends Under My Roof

My girl isn’t simply my daughter, she’s become one of my best friends. We laugh together, share stories, sing at the top of our lungs, and sometimes, sit quietly and take in the silence together.

She’s a big part of who I am and knowing my friend won’t be part of my day-to-day life is rather heartbreaking… even though I know this is her time. 

As moms, it’s okay to feel all these emotions because it’s not just our kids who are embarking on a new journey… we are as well. 

For the last 18 years, we fostered a loving home, raised our children the absolute best we could, and now life is about to change. We won’t have that daily interaction with our kids. We won’t get the latest information straight from the trenches when they walk in the door after school. We won’t have the luxury of giving them a hug or kissing them on the cheek when they head off to bed.

And, it’s all so hard.

But as a mom who’s going through this transition for the second time, I promise you this… 

Just as we’ve endured every other phase of motherhood, we will endure this, too. Soon enough, our sadness will be replaced with joy as we watch our kids thrive and mature and come into their own. Sure, we’ll still miss them like crazy, but our hearts will be at peace knowing that they’re exactly where they need to be and we’ll relish seeing where this wonderful life of theirs carries them. 

About Ali Flynn:

Ali Flynn is excited to share with you the joys and hardships of motherhood with an open heart, laughter, and some tears. Ali is a monthly guest contributor for Westchester County Moms and has been seen on Filter Free Parents, Grown and Flown, Today Parents, The Mighty, Her View From Home, and His View From Home, where she shares inspirational stories about motherhood while keeping it real. You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram.


If you enjoyed, “Things I’ll Miss When My Daughter Leaves for College,” here are other posts you might want to check out!

To My Precious Daughter Leaving for College: This is a New Chapter for Us Both

10 Tips to Help You Get Back into the Groove When Your Child Leaves for College

College Move-In Day: 21 Tips to Make it Stress-Free and Fun

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