The Beginning of The End(ings)

When your kids are little you never think the day will come when they’ll actually leave home. Sure, you joke about it, as in “One day when you’re gone I’m turning your room into a crafting paradise and getting rid of your cat” or you might wistfully imagine a day when there’s not empty glasses, dirty socks, and various contents of their backpacks littering every room of the house.

You begin mentally counting it down when they’re in about 8th grade: “Only 4 summers/birthdays left with her at home” and suddenly start paying closer attention to things like neighbor’s graduations and the Pottery Barn Teen dorm room catalog. 
As they begin high school and ocassionally have moments that are as challenging as when they were two, you might even wish for it to come sooner.

But still.

Much like when they were babies and the vision of putting them on that big yellow school bus all by themselves seemed not only an eternity away but was so painful of a thought that it knocked the wind out of you, you put it out of your mind. 

Until it happens.

I’m getting ahead of myself, I realize. My older daughter is still living under our roof and will be for the next nine months. She’s still getting yelled at for not emptying the cat box and for her room being a mine field of dirty (clean?) clothes. She’s still lying in her bed at 10 a.m. on weekend mornings watching Netflix and still lying on her stomach on the living room floor at 10 p.m. every night doing homework. She’s still here to give a tight hug to before she leaves for school.
She’s still here to kiss goodnight. 

But as I’ve known for 18 years, she’s not going to be here forever. As much as I might want to, I can’t stop time from passing. And as much as it hurts, it’s a piece of knowledge that it’s time to start facing.
Last week she had the first real ‘ending’ of her senior year; the first one that meant something, anyway. She closed her final fall musical, and I think even she felt the significance. On Instagram she posted a photo of the brick she signed on the theatre’s ‘senior wall’ with the list of shows she’s performed in, her graduation year and the name of the college she’s attending.

It became real, real fast.

She participated in the last “opening night traditions” with many other seniors who she’s been in shows with for the past three years — last bow, last cast party.
And this is just the beginning.
The beginning of the endings, if you will. 

In the coming months there will be more, all coming at us so fast we’ll still be spinning when it’s time for her to pack up and leave for college, which will bring with it a whole host of exciting beginnings.
We’ve already experienced one.

A few weeks ago when she received the email telling her she’d been accepted into her top college choice, the entire family screamed and laughed and jumped up and down in a group hug for about five minutes. There may or may not have been dancing, and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t tears.
While it’s true that she’s also been accepted into a few other schools already, getting into the one that she can already see herself at, the one that all her years of hard work and studying were necessary for, the one that was her number one choice and the one that made me realize this was going to happen made it more than a little emotional — for all of us.
And you know what hit me that night?
While we are starting to face the endings to so many things, this is also the beginning.
The beginning of things that, like it or not, are starting to come as fast as the endings are.
The beginnings that might make some of the endings a little more bearable.

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  • Karen - Like you, my son is in the process of applying to Universities (we’re in Canada). Part of me is so very excited for him – this new adventure his life is about to take, yet the other part of me is so very sad – I tear up thinking of how we will miss him when he is not here… it will be a crazy, roller coaster ride of emotions these next few months. sigh…life just seems to go by so fast…okay I will stop. PS great George Clooney article!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - “…roller coaster ride of emotions” – you nailed it. And all we can really do is get in, buckle up and hold on. Hugs to you as you take the ride as well.

      And thanks for reading the Clooney piece – maybe there’s some way he can be part of our therapy. ??ReplyCancel

  • ~Dawn~ - I’m getting emotional for you – My girls are still at the age where I want to hold them close and never let go and that time that I actually have to still seems so far away. But, I know it comes and goes fast. This post was another good reminder to me to slow down and enjoy these years with them…before they’re gone…wahhhh!!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - It seems so far away until it happens. But you’ve got time, my friend! And many fun years ahead!!ReplyCancel

  • The Dose of Reality - This post is so amazing that I immediately called Lisa after I finished reading it so that I could read it to her. And then we cried together. Because she was JUST telling me the other day about saying something to Bobby about doing something in 5 years, and he said “But I won’t be here in 5 years” because he is in 8th grade. Everything you said is just SO TRUE. And totally made us both do the Oprah ugly cry!!-AshleyReplyCancel

    • Michelle - The ugly cry is the worst. Sorry. I’m afraid I’ll be doing my fair share of it in the coming months, as well as having to take care of my 12 year old who has already started the tears at the thought of not having her best friend around all the time. I suggested home school for college, but she isn’t going for it.ReplyCancel

  • stilladuranie - As an empty nester for going on five years now, I won’t tell you that it gets easier – it just gets different. My son’s senior year of high school is still a blur for me, especially the last half. I thought I saying goodbye as he left for college out of state was hard, I thought college graduation was hard, but then I said goodbye when he left to start his active duty in the US Army (he went to school on an ROTC scholarship) and discovered a whole new level of emotional suck.

    If I have any advice to you it’s this:

    Soak up every moment of this last year
    Take the time to spend some alone time with her
    Be nostalgic about the lasts, and excited about the firsts
    It’s OK to cry
    Be proud of the amazing young woman you have raised – the whole object of the game is to raise an independent, productive member of society!

    And remember – our job is to build the foundation, what they choose to build on it is up to them.

    hugs to you, I know how hard it is <3


    • Michelle - Oh my. Saying goodbye to your child as they go to Active Duty must be devastating. Thank you for the advice – the wonderful advice. And I am proud. She’s an extraordinary young lady who I know will do great things and have amazing experiences. Thanks for the hug – I took it!

  • Linda Roy - Hugs to you, Mama. My oldest is going to start high school next year, so I’ve got time. But I’m thinking about it and I know it’s going to be some serious sad. I’m going to remember this and try to think about the beginnings too.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Yeah, as I said, I think it’s one of the only ways the endings will be a little more bearable. Don’t blink….high school flies by. Thanks for the hug! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Crystal - This made me so sad and happy for you at the same time. 🙁 🙂 My son is an only child (he’s 10), so I’ll probably be a basket case when the beginning of the end(ings) begin. LOL This was a beautiful post…I kinda felt like crying while reading it. Okay, I just loved this post. Hugs to you.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Thank you for reading and for loving it. I think writing about all these emotions might just be something that saves me over the next year. Thank you for the hug!! 🙂 I’m feeling better already!ReplyCancel

  • Dani Ryan - And here I am obsessing about a 2-day-a-week, 2-hour drop-off program starting in January for my almost 3 y/o. Big hugs to you. I can’t even imagine it. BUT…you have lots of excitement coming your way with all of those new beginnings! xoxoxoxoReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Thank you! Yes, it’s true. It’s just hard to wrap my head around that it’s actually (almost) here. And about your baby going to her “pre-school” – it will only take about a week for you to LOOOOOVE those 2 hour breaks, trust me!! Enjoy!! xoReplyCancel

  • Kathy Radigan - This one really got to me!! Our first child turns 15 in a few weeks and started high school this year, it just is going so darn fast!!!!! When my youngest, who is 8, lost his front two teeth a few weeks ago I cried because it just felt like all my babies were gone!!! It is such a strange job, this motherhood thing, because the whole objective of our job is to ultimately put ourselves out of a job!!! Enjoy the next 9 months and congratulations to you and your daughter for getting into the school of her choice. What an accomplishment!! Hugs to you!!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Thank you!! And I know that once the band-aid is ripped of (so to speak) and life moves on it will all be okay, it’s just accepting that it’s actually (almost) HERE that is tough. But I still have 9 months….and I plan to make the most of them!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Swedoski - My girls are still just babies, and you made me cry! I don’t want them to leave! Waahh!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Enjoy your babies!! You have lots of time! And trust me, in a few years you will want them to leave for a few hours….or days. ha. I think one of the things that is the most emotional for me is that a chapter of our/my LIFE is over next fall. That kind of hits you where it counts. I’ll just have to take a fabulous vacation, right?!?ReplyCancel

  • The Shitastrophy Alyson H. - Sniff….my kids are still in grade school so we got time but I won’t have to worry about them leaving because I already told my son I will be going to college with him.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Excellent plan! I’ve been telling my daughter that I’d home school her for college for years…even came up with school colors and a mascot but she didn’t seem to take me too seriously. Huh.ReplyCancel

  • Dana Hemelt - Ugh – I may need to stop reading your blog for the next nine months! In two years I’ll be where you are, and I have very mixed emotions. Congrats to your daughter, and let me know if you need any more tissues.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - I’ll take a new box and keep ’em coming. Don’t mean to depress anyone, but writing about it is my therapy. And in all honesty, it *is* wonderful to see your child grow into a wise and wonderful adult and have a multitude of exciting moments ahead of her…even if you’ll be left clutching her snuggie. 😉ReplyCancel

  • Teri Biebel - Jenn realized a few weeks ago that she only has one more band camp, one more marching band season, and she’s realizing that it’s a great big scary world out there and she’s not ready for it. Wait, maybe it’s me who realized that.

    I’m leaning on you to tell me how to handle things, since you’re going through it now and I’ll be going through it soon enough (too soon).ReplyCancel

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