When My Firstborn Left For College, I Realized How Fleeting Time Was With My Youngest

More than ever, I wanted to make as many memories with him as I could

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: When My Firstborn Left For College, I Realized How Fleeting Time Was With My Youngest

Written by: Morgan Hill

I’ve had more than a few wake-up calls on my motherhood journey. I still remember how I felt when my kids took their first step. As magical as it was, it was also a harsh reminder to me that the close physical bond I so loved with my kids would be fading now that they could explore their world without me holding them in my arms.

And, when they started driving… wow, another smack in the head that my kids were growing up, that I no longer had the control I once had or the ability to protect them like I once did. 

And, yet another eye-opener…

When my firstborn left for college.

Although I had 18 precious years to prepare, I wasn’t ready. One minute I was wiping his sticky fingers, helping him brush his teeth and taking him to his first little league game, and the next I was sending him off to college leaving behind this mama’s aching heart.

What this new chapter in my son’s life and mine revealed is that time with my kids keeps moving. Sure, we have our entire lives with our kids, but the days with them under our roof isn’t a forever thing. What it also taught me is how important it is for me to spend quality time with my younger son because he’s right behind his older brother.

And, I don’t want to miss a thing

It’s not that I’m regretting the way I mothered my oldest. I tried my hardest to be present and involved and the best mom I could be. It’s just that new milestones in motherhood have a way of opening your eyes so much wider. 

So, let the world stop while I cherish my youngest boy a little more. Let me soak up these days and embrace the moments before he leaves for college, too. Let me truly enjoy him, laugh with him and dive into his deepest thoughts.

Let me make as many memories with him as I can. 

When My Firstborn Left For College, I Realized How Fleeting Time Was With My Youngest


Here are a few things I intend to do with my younger son to make our time special before he leaves the nest, too.

Say “Yes” More Often

“Yes, I’ll play football.” “Yes, we can go pick up basketball cards.” “Yes, you can have your friends over.” “Yes, we can go on that camping trip.” I’ve always tried to be more of a “yes” mom, but now, more than ever, I’m making it a point to say “yes” because that means more time with my boy and more memories to be made. 

More Hugs

Even over “minor” protests, I intend to hug my boy… a lot. Deep down I know he loves it, and with my older boy at college, this mama’s arms have lots of extra hugs to pass out. 

More Family Meals

It’s easy to end up eating in different rooms or on the go due to sports, school and job requirements. But more than ever, I realize how important family dinners are to talk and connect. 

Be Available

If my son wants to talk, hang out or plop himself on my bed at 11 p.m. when I’m dog tired, I’m going to try even harder to make myself available. Even though I can’t always drop what I’m doing (or keep my eyes open), I’m making a promise to myself and my son that as soon as I have a break, we’ll have our special time together because those special moments are the ones I’ll always remember… something I know all too well.

More Movie Nights

OK, maybe it’s not the lighthearted romantic comedy I would have chosen but I’m still going to bust out the popcorn and spend some time bonding with my boy. Even if we don’t say a word. I still love being together.

Saying “Yes” as the Designated Driver

I have to be honest, being the designated driver mom can be exhausting. Waiting in a darkened car for your kid (and their friends) to come out of an event or party late at night can be a bit of a drag. But when you realize those days are quickly coming to an end, you tend to view them differently. Now, I’m grabbing every opportunity to drive. It’s a chance for me to spend more time with my son and be part of the memories. 

More Road Trips

Whether it’s a weekend trip to the beach or a week-long vacation to visit family a few states away, I’m going to grab as many moments in the car with my son as I can. (Honestly, even running errands with him is something I want more of.) I know from experience that some of our absolute best conversations always seem to happen when it’s just the two of us staring straight ahead at the road. 

More Impromptu Mom and Son Dates

Life has a way of getting in the way of quality time with our kids. There’s always something on our to-do list and even when our list is clear (which is almost never) and we find ourselves with a little free time, we’re so often too darn tired to do much of anything.

But now that my oldest is off to college and my younger son is on his heels, sleep can wait. I’m taking advantage of those quick trips for a fast-food burger or chicken nuggets. I’m saying yes to a late-night hot fudge sundae because my boy has a craving or a Saturday afternoon trip to his favorite Mexican restaurant for a big bowl of chips and salsa. I just want to be with him.

More Conversations About College Life

I thought I prepared my oldest son well for college, but in some ways, I may have fallen short. As a “newbie” college mom, I guess I had some learning to do. But now that my younger son will soon be leaving for college too, I’m gathering what I’ve learned and I’m passing it along to him. 

We’ll be having more chats about studying, including “how” to study, why self-discipline is so important in college, staying healthy and why pizza and beer won’t cut it, why getting involved on campus can make your college experience so much better and other important and necessary conversations like relationships, the hook-up culture and the rules of sexual consent. My aim is to prepare him even better than I prepared my oldest. 

Just Hanging Out

When my firstborn left for college, it made me realize just how fleeting time is with my younger son.

Suddenly, those unplanned, unembellished moments where we just hang out mean everything to me. It doesn’t matter if we’re just chillin’ out together in the kitchen making his favorite dinner, hanging out at the beach, or grabbing a few minutes before he heads off to school, I just want to be with my boy as much as I can.

Whether it’s five minutes or five hours – I’ll take every moment I can because I know… those are moments I can never get back. 

About Morgan Hill:

Morgan Hill is an essayist and humorist. She has written for many online and print publications including Insider, Your Teen Magazine, Revel and MASK Magazine. She is the mother of freshman and senior sons in high school. When not writing, she can be found at flea markets, in her garden, photographing architecture, taking cooking classes or eating the stinkiest cheese she can find. You can also find her on Twitter @MorganHWrites or Instagram @MorganHillWriter

If you enjoyed reading, “When My Firstborn Left for College, I Realized How Fleeting Time Was with My Youngest,” check out these other posts!

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