Dear Parents Dropping Off College Kids: It’s OK To Feel Profound Joy And Sadness All At Once

More Stories like:

“It is possible to be filled with joy and also be completely, profoundly sad.

I just sobbed on my way home from my second college drop off. 2 of my 5 birds are feathering their little college nests tonight. I look at them stepping right out into their futures and am filled with so much joy.

They are doing life, making goals, standing on their own, and dreaming all of those big wild dreams. They can get themselves to places on time, have their own money to spend, and are making their own separate life choices. Yay, kids! You are killing it!

Then I picture their empty clean bedroom, the face of their left-behind sister looking out the car window, and the quiet that will now be our dinner time norm. They won’t be here tonight to watch shows with me on the couch and my heart feels so darn Sad (capital S) being apart from two of its favorite humans on this earth.

Is it any wonder parents are exhausted? Holding joy and sadness at the same time is a practice of allowing ourselves to feel all the feelings. It’s easier to just feel some of the feelings, I mean I like the good ones. Why can’t we only feel those?

People are cool with joy. They know how to handle joy. Sadness is uncomfortable and other people might just want you to move on and look at the bright side already. They might tell you you should feel happy for your kids and it’s what’s right and good! I’m not sad at all; I just like to see my kids happy.

And yet we do feel all sorts of joy for our kids. I’m not just happy. I’ve leveled up to joy, and I know it’s joy because it’s a lasting feeling in my soul.

It’s also OK to be sad for you. I’m here to tell you I’m walking, talking proof you can be both. Joy and sadness, happiness and sorrow.

You can feel when your heart is untangling from your babies because it no longer needs to think about having the kid’s favorite snacks in the fridge, or what time the kids walk in the door at night (harder than the snacks for the record).

That stuff is hard on hearts and it’s OK to have hard and complicated feelings. Because if we feel the hard stuff then we can move through it, and try and settle up with as much joy as we can. That little sorrowful ache in the corner of your parent’s heart? That might be there to stay. I think it’s a part of the gig (and oh so worth it).

The price of love is sometimes hard. The constant grocery shopping, carpools, and sleepless nights are hard.

But the letting go of doing all of that…even harder. So feel all the feelings, my friends, it’s OK to feel all the things. You can do it and I can too.

We’ve got this because we know we have the most powerful thing of all. We have love, and love can do anything.


Mother giving daughter tight hug
Courtesy of Amy Betters Midtvedt

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Betters-Midvedt of Hiding in the Closet with Coffee. Submit your own story here.

Read more from Amy here: 

‘There was a time I brushed my teeth, hair sprayed my hair, and lipsticked my lips if I even thought I might run into this guy on the way to class.’: Wife candidly shares ‘what love looks like’

‘He’s the kid who never listens the first time. Or even the tenth. His heart breaks because he’s not always sure why what he’s doing is so wrong. But he needs you to hear him.’

Do you know someone who could benefit from this story? SHARE this on Facebook or Twitter with family and friends.

 Share  Tweet