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“Are you going to write about this, Mom?” my daughter Caroline asks me. (She knows I’ve written about her brother.)

The question is half tease, half challenge. I can’t tell whether she wants me to write, or not. Maybe she doesn’t know, either.

Caroline is 18, and she’s about to begin her freshman year at college. She’s moving across the Atlantic Ocean to spend her fall semester on another continent and another time zone from me. She left Tuesday night, on a red-eye flight.

London is five hours ahead of Boston. She’ll be living in my future (literally) instead of in my present. Which seems fitting.

The recent months have been an emotional time for us both. Today, when I was getting my hair cut, I heard a stylist say to someone in her chair, “Hasn’t the weather this summer been awful?”

And I couldn’t for the life of me understand what she was talking about. Because to me, it’s been a wonderful summer.

It’s been a summer full of friends, trips to both coasts, one epic grad party, a sandcastle that should have won first place, even more beach, TaylorHillary, outdoor dinners, more family than usual, a new experience commuting into the State House (her), and more nights at home in my own bed instead of on the road (me).

I loved every second of it.

But over all of it hovered a kind of pall.

To call it that seems unnecessarily dramatic; a pall is, after all, the cloth that covers a casket on its final march down the church aisle. Was the situation really so fraught? So heavy? So final?

“I’m not dying,” Caroline reminds me when we start trying on words that describe what we imagine her new life will be. Like when I boil too few noodles, and someone jokes, “Your mom is just getting ready for one less plate at the table.”

No, she’s not dying. And neither am I.

But this summer did have a quality that others before it have not. It did feel like there was a low cloud cover threatening our days. It stayed mostly out to sea, but some days it loomed large enough that you could see it from shore.

On those days, it lent an urgency to enjoying the day—because in just 89 days… or 62 days… or 28… or (finally) 2 or 3 days all of this, everything, was going to shift… and take a turn for the worse.

Or things were going to take a turn, anyway.

Last week, Caroline’s friend Sabrina told us a story about going grocery-shopping with her mom, and realizing that she wouldn’t be home to eat the chicken she was buying. She’d already had the “last meat,” almost without realizing it.

That’s the pall, right there. It was laid and smoothed out over what should have been a simple run to Market Basket.

Things have been like that, this summer.

Then there was the hot water spring that seemed to have collected almost overnight behind my eyes.

A few times over the past week or so, before she left, something would trigger an eruption; and, as my eyes filled, Caroline would flick my arm—literally take her thumb and forefinger and snap, hard, on my forearm, like a correction choke-chain on an over-stimulated Labrador Retriever.

“Nope! We aren’t going to do that right now,” she’d say.

I totally get it, because I don’t understand how that wellspring settled behind my eyeballs, either. (And she talks a good game, but Caroline has a geyser behind her eyeballs, too. It’s just timed to erupt at different times than mine.)

We go to see Meryl Streep and her doppelganger daughter, Mamie Gummer, in Ricki and the Flash. It’s a mediocre movie with a predictable storyline, centered on a mother’s balancing her own aspirations with family.

But there I am in the dark theater, tears stressing down my face, channeling small black tributaries of salty mascara from my eyes to my chin. I regard myself with equal parts self-disrespect and self-disbelief: “I can’t even…”

(Pretty soon, I just stop wearing mascara. I take to wearing sunglasses when I’m out, in case I ran into anyone.)

II

The anticipation of her leaving was worse than the actual leaving. The morning before her evening flight, her friends (Squad 7 had been reduced to Squad 6, then 5) came to say goodbye in the morning. And they again gathered to see us off in the afternoon.

It was hard, being around these girls I’ve known since forever. I had to leave the room. (I’d forgotten my new rule and had applied mascara.)

In between visits there was a lot of waiting, checking packing lists (again), and mostly glancing at the clock.

It felt like those hours before a funeral, when the house has a kind of self-conscious helplessness: You don’t know what to do with yourself. And even if you could think of something, it’s probably not the appropriate time, anyway.

But then we were on the road and heading into Logan Airport, and something came over me.

Weirdly, it felt right.

There’s a moment when a person becomes a parent: when you shift from me to we.

For some, that happens at their child’s birth, for others it happens much before or much later, but it happens: The axis of the earth shifts suddenly, and your world no longer spins around you. It begins to spin around your child, or your children, or (for some) your nephew, niece, or your dog.

And we realize, with some measure of dismay, that nothing is all about us. Ever again.

Something like that swelled (again) on the trip down Route 93 South toward Logan. The sharp flick to my forearm was metaphorical this time. And self-inflicted.

Maybe because the hour we were anxiously awaiting was here (at last).

Maybe because I was sick of it, and it was time to put my head down, lean into the wind, and charge that last mile toward putting her on the plane to London.

Whatever the reason was… the pall lifted. I checked the water level of the wellspring behind my eyes. It was bone dry.

I glanced at Caroline, her head bent over her phone in the back seat, texting someone. Maybe she was texting her old friends, or the new—the girl she had arranged to meet at Logan. Either way, she was already partially immersed in the life ahead of her. My brave, brilliant girl. God, I am proud of her.

I’d like to tell you that I didn’t cry when I hugged her goodbye. But I kissed her damp cheek and I cried into her hair (no mascara) as we hugged for one last time before she wiped her face and headed into security.

Her dad and I and the rest of the parents hovered just on the other side of the stanchion. We craned our necks for a peek at the back of their heads before they disappeared, not unlike a lot of us did 13 years ago, parked strategically at the edge of the kindergarten playground just to watch them line up before they were led inside.

Somehow this felt okay. It felt right. I kept asking myself, as her dad and I drove home: Am I just numb? Should I be more unhinged?

When we pull down the street at dusk, we see our neighbor putting her trash barrels at the curb. (The days are getting shorter, I think, and at the same time consider how this scene feels overwritten: The return from the college drop-off; the shorter days that signal how everything comes to an end; the time of day (twilight); and the discarding of things we can’t use.)

We pull over. She knows where we’ve been.

“How was she?” she asks. And I hug her through the car window and cry again. But it’s not the wellsprings that erupt this time. This time the tears are just grief (I miss her already), but also (I notice) some happy tears that come from a full heart.

“It’s like a break-up,” my friend Eileen says to me. I know what she means—the slight shock of desertion.

But it’s also not like a break-up, because we feel both bereft but also a wee bit ridiculous for feeling bereft. Our kids are doing what they should do, and what we want them to.

Parenting works best when you let go. Love rolls downhill.


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82 Responses to Love Rolls Downhill

  1. C.C. Chapman says:

    Thanks for the morning cry I wasn’t expecting, but somehow knew I’d be having it as soon as I saw what this post was about.

    So glad I got to see the two of you this summer and I can’t wait to hear all about her adventures in London.

  2. Lisa Barone says:

    Well, great, now I’m crying at work. Thanks for sharing your life with us. I’m going to go call my mother now.

  3. Diane says:

    No matter how right it is, no matter how much we know it’s inevitable, the pain of separation is as sharp as the pain experienced when giving birth to this child. The pain subsides and life goes on, but nothing is ever the same again.Thanks for sharing your experience! And best of luck to you both!

  4. alphanke says:

    Pls don’t cry ,stop crying ,with God all thing are possible have faith in God ok keep rejoice so that you mother will be happy when you cry your mother cannot be happy ,but when you are rejoicing your mother will be happy always to live long life

    God can send a good honest man that will be making you happy always

  5. Beth says:

    Oh my Gosh Ann- make me cry! We just did this with my youngest on Sunday. And he’s only going to Temple University, an hour away! I was a wreck all day Saturday. And like you, we had a GREAT summer. We saw miracles and friendships and bonds and activity like, I kid you not, NEVER BEFORE. My husband and I had a front row seat to watching two of our kids’ lives just take off before our very eyes. Thusly, I had no desire whatsoever to stop the fun and send him back to school. Let me warn you – he’s a senior and I still cry! But I found just as you did- Sunday my eyes were dry, my smile was wide and I was filled with joy for him as I knew he was where he wanted to be. We said our goodbyes at the corner of Broad and something-or-other, having just been to the local grocery store for the last of supplies. As he turned and walked away from us, a 6 pack of paper towels under one arm and 12 pack of toilet paper under the other, I stood and looked at him as long as I could. Strong, independent and on his own, I had to leave him in the city.

    And, I realize now, that’s just how it should be.

    • Ann Handley says:

      I love your comment here, Beth. Can’t agree more.

      I always cry when my kids leave. I mean, I don’t cry when they leave to pick up something at the grocery store (HA!) but when they go to (or back to) school? YEP.

  6. Jen says:

    I think this may be my favorite blog post EVER, Ann. I have a lot of these same feels as I’m preparing for my own wedding next month, so this really struck a chord with me. Best of luck to your daughter – she’s going to ROCK! (And so will you, of course, but here you are already rocking anyway, so we never really had any doubts…)

  7. Tracy Line says:

    We just went through this as well, and-it’s my second time doing it! Still, the tears flowed and we had just as hard of a time letting go of this one as we did the first. I think though we’re happy for our children’s new beginnings we are sad for the changes, it’s the knowing that things will never be the same that we grieve. However I do know that life goes on and that by sophomore year you’re simply waiving goodbye as they leave for the semester! No tears, no worries, no breakdowns, just life as usual, now.

  8. Heidi Cohen says:

    Ann-

    I always admire your ability to put into amazing prose written in plain English without the fancy words what most of us think and feel.

    It took me back to my college days.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  9. Jeff Sass says:

    Beautiful post Ann… and I so love when you write “AnnArchy” posts about life, rather than about marketing and writing (though those posts aren’t too shabby either…).

    Parenting is a gift, and you have a gift to so eloquently capture such moments with love, emotion and reality through your words (if not tear-filled eyes…).

    This is one step between you and your daughter, of so many more to come (ask me about becoming a grandfather!!!), always with new surprises and emotions. Just wait… and enjoy.

    Thanks so much for sharing…

  10. Chris says:

    Well, I just dropped my daughter off for her first day of preschool before reading this. I’m not much of a crier, but I found myself choking back tears as I read this, thinking about how ridiculous it is that I’m comparing college to preschool. Great post, Ann. Thank you!

    • Ann Handley says:

      It’s the same, and not ridiculous at all. As I was writing this I remembered dropping my oldest off at his first day of preschool… and feeling similar things. Comes with the territory.

  11. Sandy says:

    You nailed it – right down to the grocery store aisle. A week or so ago I’d left both my boys getting their “toiletry” items at Walmart while I ran to pick up syrup for our last Sunday morning pancake breakfast. I burst into tears when it dawned on me that I didn’t need the monster bottle anymore. I caught back up with them and punched my college Sophmore in the arm – “You made me cry.” I got the eye roll.

    I do however have to disagree with you on one thing. You said, “… nothing is all about us. Ever again.” This first weekend home – just me and my husband was kinda nice. Sure I miss the boys terribly, and couldn’t be more excited about their future. But I’m also kind of excited about a newly found freedom for my husband and I to reconnect just the 2 of us … and the dog.

  12. Tom Bentley says:

    Ann, lovely, graceful writing, and deft control when you loosen the writing (and tear-duct) spigot, and then back off, so the emotional measure is all the more powerful. I don’t have kids, but you touched me in opening a window on their absence.

    (Anyway, Caroline will bug you soon enough about buying her an expensive pair of boots or something—you won’t get away that easily.)

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thanks, Tom. It means a lot coming from you!

      I also appreciate your comment here, because I wondered if non-parents would relate. But then again, we are all somebody’s child… so, there’s that perspective, too.

  13. Children are frost on our windshield. Enjoy the design, savor every moment. This too shall pass.

  14. Douglas Pals says:

    Ann,

    And I thought Arizona was a long way to go for college. I didn’t know she was going to London. God bless her and you all. Seriously. What a great blessing that you have given her and yourself.

    We recently returned from AZ with many of the same feelings you shared. In the end, we were just proud of her — that she was ready and confident and not scared. And, oddly, we were proud of ourselves. Through all the stumbling and tripping and goofing that one does as a parent, we were able to teach her and she heard the lessons and was ready to try them out for herself.

    Parents have been sending children off to college or worse for years, but like parenthood in general, you can’t understand until it happens to you. As we have said around our house, we don’t want them grasping on to home…we want them to fly and do the great things they were intended to do. Time to go and do!

    Thanks, Ann!

    DP

  15. Chuck Frey says:

    Good luck, Ann! We put 2 daughters through college. Fortunately, they stayed fairly close. But next week, it’s about to get real when I move our youngest daughter from the Milwaukee area to Philadelphia for a 10-month stage management apprenticeship. No longer will she be less than an hour away. No longer will we see her once every week or two. She’s a talented young lady who has impressed everyone she’s worked for. I’m sure she’s going to knock ’em dead in Philly. But then what next? Chances are, if she’s as successful in this new job as I expect she will, where will the next opportunity be? Chances are, it will be on the east coast. If we’re lucky, she’ll find a job opportunity in Chicago, much closer to home. But I’m not counting on it. What I’m saying, Ann, is it doesn’t stop with college. This summer has been filled with similar bittersweet feelings, many goodbyes and tears. But yet there’s something very right about it. If she’s going to pursue her career in stage management, this is an ideal next step. If she didn’t take it, she’d always look back and wonder “What if?” And so would we. So it’s with mixed feelings we will send her on her way next week. We’re confident she’ll do just great. We’ll miss her terribly. But it’s all part of growing up and becoming an independent, successful adult. I wish your daughter much success and fun at school. See you at Content Marketing World in 2 weeks!

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thanks, Chuck. And I appreciate the perspective. I feel you — then again, I mourned the loss of the first baby tooth, too. 😀

      Best of luck to your daughter(s) as well! See you in CLE.

  16. Brian Blake says:

    Dangit, Ann… Everyone in Starbucks is staring at me now (granted, I don’t have mascara down to my chin, but still!).

    My nephew got on a plane at the crack of dawn this morning to go to New Jersey (Seton Hall). He squeezed in one last coffee date with me yesterday (‘cuz he loves his Unc B). While I am thrilled for him and his big adventure, I miss him dearly. I picked my daughter up from school yesterday and relished the fact that she is 9 and I have MANY wonderful years ahead before she gets on a plane and goes off to start her life.

    And, you’re right. The kids are doing what they’re supposed to do. And that is a good thing.

  17. Laura Hoffman says:

    Anne – You write with such open honesty and I sincerely appreciate that you chose to share. Similar to others above, I have experienced my own variation of this with my own son leaving for Europe. The internal processing of knowing you will be an empty-nester, though to it actually happening, is an interesting ride.

  18. Oh, boy. I’m typing this through a teary haze of my own even though my own daughter is only just about to enter the sixth grade, and I have what feels like a long way until I’m navigating those farewell (and see you soon!) waters. But, I know there’s a day not far in my future when I’ll catch my breath and look around and wonder where all the years went.

    I was never one of those girls who couldn’t wait to have kids. In fact, I wasn’t really sure I was up for the role of “mom” until I took the leap at the age of thirty-four. But once I had decided, once I was in it, everything did shift – just like you said … my world was no longer spinning around me. And, surprisingly, this was okay. It was more than okay.

    I’ve been a single mom for eight years now, since my daughter was three years-old. It’s her and me. We’re a team. Sometimes we make each other crazy, but at the end of the day we are always there for each other … figuring stuff out and (mostly) having a good time doing it. I cannot imagine life without her. I know the day will come when she will spread her wings and fly off into the Big World, but I cannot comprehend my days and nights without her company.

    Beautiful, beautiful post, Ann.

  19. Anne Janzer says:

    Thanks for the beautiful, grounding reminder of what’s important, and what we all share.

    My tears confirm what I suspected – that wellspring never runs dry. My own children have returned from college, transformed and grown and still wonderful, but this post recalls every departure. I’m grateful for them, and for this beautifully-written reminder. Thank you.

  20. Tammy Allen says:

    My daughter just started high school and I’m already anticipating an empty nest. When I took her to her orientation I was pragmatic about what she needed to know. I gathered all the information about her classes, course material and directions. She, of course, was glassy eyed, and terrified. I took it upon myself to ensure she had the correct information she needed. I’m glad I did. She was a mess.
    She was moving from a school with a total of forty 8th graders to a school with 1,300 freshmen. Big change!
    We bought supplies, clothing, shoes, etc., while obliterating my pocket book.
    The morning of the first day she was sobbing. I held and assured her. And she finally got herself together and went to school. I didn’t cry at all. I felt disturbed at my detachment. But when it came time to pick her up I burst into heavy grieving tears. I even said “My baby!” I got to school and she was fine. No waterworks, no complaining, except for the English teacher was a moron. Relieved yes, but I knew this is really it. Soon it will be college. I understand before it’s even happened to me how painful it will be and how right it will be.

  21. Mindy McHorse says:

    Soooo beautifully written – thank you! My three are six and under and we did the first farewells for the school year last week. Heart-wrenching and wonderful, and now after reading your beautiful post I find myself looking ahead to the far-off day when they fly the nest for a (hopefully) better place. Sobering and exciting. I need to go eat some pie and pull myself together.

  22. Ann, thank you for opening your heart, preparing me three years in advance and also making me cry at work. You’re so right…there is such a strange calmness deep down underneath the geyser that assures me that change is inevitable, it is good and we’ll both live through it (my oldest is almost 16). She’s my first. One of my best friends. I’m already pondering the day when she’s in a different time zone and not curled up next to me on the couch recounting her entire day; who’s plastic, who’s smoking pot and “don’t tell their parents”, what she and the boyfriend are planning for the upcoming weekend and how much it will cost me. (Sigh)

    You’re my hero! If you can live through this then so can I. 😉

  23. Rob Lubow says:

    Congratulations on this milestone. When my son leaves in 2 yrs I’ll think back on “Love Rolls Downhill” and it will help get my head on straight. What a powerful post. I didn’t cry. A bug flew in my eye.

  24. Such a beautiful post. I can only imagine this feeling, yet I know it’s coming, 13 years from now. 13 long years. 13 short years, so very short. Thanks for sharing your experience, Ann.

  25. My daughter leaves tomorrow for her junior year and I’m not crying reading this post. Really. I’m. Not. Crying. At all. Ok, maybe a little.

    Caroline is a beautiful young lady who will do amazing things in London. You’ve given her a solid base to depend upon…and given yourself an excuse for a trip (or two) to London!

    (((Hugs)))

  26. B.L. Ochman says:

    You are truly an amazing writer Ann.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    I sent it to my sister, who sent my nephew off the college on Sunday.
    I bet you’ll hear from her too 🙂
    xo
    BL

  27. Wow, all I could think about is the amazing experience this is going to be for a freshman to have. Going on a trip like this, and having it be the first year of her college experience, is going to take all the underclassmen awkwardness away and give her something to really share and look back on with pride. She will not be the girl pining away to get invited to Senior Parties or the girl wondering if her look is to High School. She will be the young lady confident enough to throw her own party and the one giving advice to High School Girls thinking about their own journey to the USA, ones who want to do what she is doing. Those Exchange Students will find their inspiration in her. Now, I find myself feeling proud and I am not even her Mother. I am also thinking about my first College Experience and how different it was from your Daughters. Ann, when the wellsprings try to surface, just remember that you have her holiday homecoming, summers, and spring break to look forward too. Remember, she’ll be back!

  28. Oh hell Ann, how is it this lands in my inbox on the EXACT day (yes today 8/26) I go home to Florida, leaving my daughter Alexandra, my one and only child, behind in NYC at college?

    Her dad and I took her to NY last week, did the dorm move-in and all that, and then I stayed for business, so I’m lucky to have had a great week with her helping her settle-in, run around the city to our favorite places, and be on hand for the little needs that popped up. Sure, she’s a much shorter plane ride away from me than your Caroline will be from you, but still my hot water spring is bubbling and I fully expect to be the crazy crying woman on my flight home this evening!

    Thanks for expressing this letting go so beautifully (as always). You’re right – whatever the type of separation, we need to just stay in the love and pay it forward. Hugs to you ()()

    (wiping teary mascara)

    • Ann Handley says:

      I am sorry/thrilled for you both, Karen! We need to drink next time we see each other… I mean, support each other. (Did I say drink?)

      Hope she’s doing great in NYC!

  29. Leslie says:

    Thanks for sharing – so beautifully said. I just went through this myself as both my twins are headed to college. It’s so hard to explain the torrent of emotions – especially to them. I also forgot my waterproof mascara – it was a long 5-hour ride home. Hugs to you and best of luck.

  30. Andrew Smith says:

    Great article, looking forward to my own departure, but ours will be a bit different. My son heading to California and we are driving him cross country (from the South Shore) to drop him off, flying home.

    You so well captured the many feelings, the one I keep coming back to (and the one that got me when I read it) is “God I am proud of (him).”

    Thanks for a great article.

  31. Lisa Horner says:

    You are an amazing writer Ann. I cried when I read this, and truly dread the day when my baby heads out on her own. I say move to London 🙂

  32. Mindy Fried says:

    Hey Ann – Lovely piece. I appreciate how you capture the complexity of your feelings: the sadness of letting go, the need to hold on, the need to let go, and so on… I’m sure it’s even more poignant because this is your second child. But now you have the joy of watching her grow and explore and become even more of her “own person”. I remember waiting for our return flight (our daughter went to school in New Orleans and my husband and I flew down with her). There was an announcement over the PA, saying the flight was overbooked. They were looking for volunteers to be bumped. My initial reaction was that we couldn’t possibly because we needed to get home quickly for our daughter. (after all, she wasn’t with us – where else would she be?!) And then it struck me that a) she wasn’t “home” anymore; and b) we could be more spontaneous! That moment of hesitation cost us some free round-trip tickets. Ah well. But it was literally a wake-up call that new opportunities would arise. She just turned 24, and it’s been amazing to watch her blossom – to take risks that have mostly been good ones (!), to discover more parts of herself, to reflect on who she was and to become more comfortable with who she was becoming. I’m sure you have plenty of adventures in store for you – and for you, as a mom of an awesome young woman!

  33. Ann,

    This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Cheers,
    Michael

  34. Ted Karczewski says:

    Ann, what a great story. Thanks for sharing it!

    Best,
    Ted

  35. Sara says:

    Great insight! We just dropped off our daughter at college on Sunday for her Junior year. Each year has gotten a little easier but you still miss them terribly at the strangest moments. We’ll have to see how the waterworks will go in 2 years when the youngest daughter goes off to college. Many blessings on you and yours.

  36. Chris Bellezza says:

    Ann, I was waiting and looking forward to this post I knew would come from you. I have dropped off our college students 6 times (oldest is a senior, youngest is a sophomore), and although each time gets easier, saying goodbye is never easy for any of us. I hope Caroline has a marvelous adventure and shares some of it with you, and I hope your comforter spaniel keeps you smiling!

  37. Nataly Kelly says:

    A beautiful and moving piece, Ann.

  38. Katybeth says:

    Wow! Sounds like you said, “see you later” to a daughter that can breath fire and will make a difference in our world. Thank you and good work! <3

  39. Jessica Jeffcoat says:

    Thank you, Ann, for a beautiful post. It makes me understand a little better what my parents went through when I left for college, leaving San Diego for Boston. Dad flew out with me to drop me off at Tufts, because Mom had her first week of community college classes to teach. And Mom, apparently, wore sunglasses that whole first week of classes and had to tell her students repeatedly that no one had died…I haven’t had to experience this first hand yet. My two oldest step kids are going to school locally here in San Antonio (and the oldest even moved into our guest house recently), but your post still brought tears to my eyes. I loved your realization that your daughter was doing exactly what she should be doing–having new and wonderful and challenging adventures. I will be thinking about you as you settle into the new normal in your lives this fall. Thanks again for another heartfelt and touching post.

  40. Kip Meacham says:

    Reading this made me feel like a cross between an eavesdropper and a rookie parent. I wanted to know how this story ended, so I read on–feeling guilty the whole time. Guilty for listening in on a part of your life I don’t feel I’ve earned the right to access. I endured the guilt because your words helped me see gaps in myself I wish to fill up with better deeds and better thinking.

    I’m grateful for (and hopefully a little more empowered to succeed at parenting by) your experience told with such powerful words.

    Thank you, Ann.

    P.S. Success to you, Caroline.

  41. As soon I finished reading your post, I reached for my phone to call my mom. I loved reading a mother’s perspective on sending her daughter to school because it was difficult for me to truly see my own mother’s perspective when I left for college. I’m a third year college student attending an in-state school. Almost every time I leave my house to go back to school after a break, I still see her get a little emotional. I always tell her, “I’m only an hour and a half drive away,” but I know she feels more than just physical separation. I’m considering studying abroad in Europe next semester, so I’ll be much farther away from home, like your daughter. Of course my mom is so excited for me, but apprehensive at the same time (and honestly I am too). I know my situation will be similar to the one you described, and now I feel like I can relate to my mom a lot more!

  42. Hello Ann,

    I jumped on your site today to reread your recent post about brand storytelling (I’m grappling with one right now).

    Instead, I ended up crying and nodding my head as I read this post. We dropped our college freshman, our son, off at school two weeks ago today, and the wellsprings are still there, though not as filled-to-the-brim as they were a week ago. So I guess that’s progress. But it is a grieving. And it may seem overly dramatic and sentimental to some, but we writers are a reflective, often sensitive, bunch. As we crossed back over the Mississippi River on our journey back home, it struck me that family life is a river, not a lake — and we just rounded a big, new bend. The landscape is different. My immediate takeaway is to be more mindful than ever of the fleeting moments with my other two children still at home — and, if nothing else, I can hug the dog and be assured he won’t leave me for college:)

    Best to you on this new chapter. They’re going to be great. We’re going to be ok.

    All is as it should be.

    Best,

    Kim MacGregor

  43. Sean Gresh says:

    Hi Ann, A beautifully written piece…and I am so glad I don’t wear mascara! The good news about being a parent sending off one’s children is that you get the opportunity to experience their adventures vicariously…and you also continue to be needed but in different yet very profound ways.

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  47. Tony B says:

    Hey Ann,

    Oh what a beautiful share, and only parents will really know how are you are feeling, even though I do get a bit antsy when I can’t see my dog!

    I can just imagine myself as you in the cinema tears streaming down my face watching some father daughter movie… Without Mascara. My girl is only 14 she doesn’t live with me and every time I see her I’m have to wrench myself away my heart physically feels pain.

    I’ve only known you for two posts! I haven’t even read your about page yet, but from experience I can tell you your daughter is so proud of you and will make you proud of her. Love rolls downhill, and so does attitude, respect for others, and outlook on life.

    Stay blessed, who knows on May have even walked passed her on the street… Ask her if she recognises me ;o)

    It’s almost Christmas – I hope you guys are together and stories are flowing…

    Tony ‘it’s only natural’ B

  48. Brittany Arnold says:

    I absolutely love this blog post. As a student it is always a reflective time to get to read a story about just how much a mother loves her children. Thanks for sharing!

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  50. Pingback: #CMWorld-Speaker im Rampenlicht: Ann Handley › Communicate and sell

  51. Paulina Famiano says:

    I love this post; it is beautifully written. After attending a college that was only one hour away from my parent’s house, I am looking to start a career in a state located across the country. It has been heavy on my heart how this would affect my parents, so this article was a great read for me.

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