When Your Oldest Child Leaves Home

I am not a mom who cries on the first day of Kindergarten, the last day of high school, or really any of the My baby’s growing up! milestones in between. I’ve often wondered if my “mom gene” is mutated because of that, because I don’t feel the same mourning I’ve heard so many other moms express. Instead, I’m totally preoccupied with excitement for my kids, to see what’s next for them, especially because I feel like them moving on, moving ahead – without me – is kind of the point of parenting.

Now…having said that…I will admit one thing I’ve realized about my oldest daughter leaving home: it kind of sucks.

I really like my oldest daughter. I like spending time with her. She is sweet and fun and empathetic. She makes me feel more like me when she’s around. I miss her not being here.

goofy hannah

And because she’s the oldest, it means I still have a house full of kids at home. It’s harder to keep up with her because we don’t have the random little moments tucked into each day to connect. When she calls, it’s noisy in the background and I can’t usually talk for long. We text every day, but in brief snippets as she runs to class or I cross another task off my to-do list. I keep up with her life and friends on Facebook and Instagram, and am grateful for those windows through which to see her smile.

Our five kids are very close, and everything feels more balanced (though MUCH louder) when she’s home. When she’s gone, the dynamics shift, relationships change, and we move into a stranger version of “normal.” It feels like we’re cheating on her when we do anything fun without her.

my 5 kids together

I am also crazily compelled to answer “FIVE. We have FIVE kids” when we meet anyone new at church and they see we’re with just the four. Or when people ask me how many kids I have at home, I give a stilted “I only have four now, but my oldest is away at college.” She’s here, but not here. A bit of software running in the background that still takes up space and memory.

For the rest of my life, my relationship with my oldest will be a series of comings and goings. And while I am entirely ok with that, it still kind of sucks. I’m not necessarily mourning the loss of her, but I’m certainly pouting a little.

Has your oldest child left home? What has been your experience so far?


  • Melissa

    My oldest left just 5 weeks ago. And even though he is exactly right where he should be, doing exactly what he should be doing…I MISS HIM!!!
    Even though there were a few times in the past year that I looked at him and thought…”yep, it’s time for you to get on out there”…I MISS HIM!!!

    It is an end of a season for me. I will never have all my chicks tucked safely under my wings (at the same time) again. I don’t think that I am ready to give the world my wonderful son. But it isn’t about whether or not I am ready.

    The other thing that I have had to come to terms with is this…
    My oldest is on a mission for our church. A 2 YEAR mission. No coming home, only 1 weekly email and 2 calls per YEAR (on Mother’s day and Christmas). My second child is also a son, 17 months younger than my first. My second born will leave for his mission BEFORE my first born gets home from his mission. Yep, that’s right…I have to say goodbye again (to my second son), BEFORE I get to say hello (to my oldest)!! That is not going to be easy! I am still in the first few weeks of my oldest’s mission. I know it will get easier. But some days all I can think about is how amazing that welcome home hug is going to be. The last thing I want to think about is the fact that I must watch another boy of mine walk through airport security and into his life…alone or at least without me.

    I will adjust to this new normal. I am adjusting! It just may take me a little while longer! đŸ™‚