8 Things I Didn’t Expect With My Teen Leaving Home For University

Jill Holtz

August 21, 2021

teen leaving home

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Those milestones along the parenting journey – the day they are born, their first steps, starting school, losing baby teeth, going to their first disco, sitting exams, graduating from school and then suddenly before you know it, your child is about to leave home.

Here are 8 Things I Didn’t Expect With My Teen Leaving Home For University:

8 Things I Didn’t Expect As My Teen Leaves Home For University

The time between their arrival into your life and them leaving home seems to vanish in a blink.

As with many of those parenting milestones, your expectations and what actually happens can be quite different, unexpected, and may even surprise you. I certainly expected to feel emotional, I didn’t quite realise what the depth of that emotion would be and how it would catch me at the strangest times.

#1. I didn’t expect it to creep up on me so fast

Even though we’ve had all year of her final year of school (and the preceding years) to prepare for this moment, it just suddenly arrives. Suddenly my baby is about to leave home and it feels very strange thinking about it all.

#2. I didn’t expect to get emotional at odd times

post natal depression

I’m a bit of a mush when it comes to anything remotely emotional, e.g. I’ll be the one crying at the sentimental moments in movies or weeping over some sad news story. So I knew I was going to be emotional, it just hasn’t been when I expected it.

Surprisingly there were no tears from me at the graduation ceremony when she was leaving school but I found myself weeping driving to school one day at the thought that this was one of the last times I would be driving her there.

A good friend of mine gave me this excellent advice, “Be gentle on yourself”.

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#3. I didn’t expect to be so nervous at key moments

Yes, I knew it was going to be nervy, her opening her exam results to find out what she had got but my heart was in my mouth too.

Or waiting for the university offer to be confirmed.

And I’m sure I’ll be feeling nervous for her until I know she’s settled into her university life.

#4. I didn’t expect it to bring back all my memories

mother and daughter

All those memories of me leaving home and heading to University have come flooding back (in Technicolour!). Going into my room in first year to meet my new room mate, introducing myself to the girls that would become my bff’s then and forever, heading to my first lecture.

All those memories have suddenly bounced vividly into my head.

#5. I didn’t expect to be wondering about a new family dynamic

As this is our eldest child leaving home, we’re new to this whole thing and we have a new family dynamic that’s going to play out.

How will her sister be as an only child at home? How will eating a la trois instead of as a family of four be? What will it feel like?

#6. I didn’t expect to have such a long list of things to organise

Ok, I knew there were things to organise for her going away but I didn’t think it was going to be that long! She’s going into halls of residence in first year so we don’t need to worry about pots and pans (yet) but there’s all those small practical things to buy or rummage out of your own house.

Never mind the admin from the University from accepting the offer to organising her student email access.

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#7. I didn’t expect to want to take photos of her all the time

Suddenly I want to take lots of photos of her. I feel like the limited time I have means I have to try to capture as much as possible. (“Not another photo Mum…”).

And never mind if it’s trivial stuff, like her hugging the dog suddenly at the park, I want to capture those moments.

#8. I didn’t expect it to be sad and exciting at the very same time

It’s such mixed feelings. And it switches in the blink of an eye. One moment you’re thrilled for them. The next moment you’re sad to the bottom of your heart that they are heading away from your home.

One moment you’re excited about them being excited about what options they are going to take to study. The next moment you’re remembering them tottering around learning to walk and realising those days are gone, gone, gone.

So as I help my daughter navigate the packing up and organising to move house and onto her next chapter, I came across the most wonderful quote from Cecil Day-Lewis:

“Selfhood begins with a walking away / And love is proved in the letting go.”

8 Things I Didn’t Expect With My Teen Leaving Home For University

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