Too many words on my mental state at this exact moment.

Dear friends,

I don’t have the right words to describe how I’ve been feeling lately, so I’ll just take a ham-handed stab at it.

Teary. Jittery. Frustrated. Angry. Distraught. Restless. Blue. Pensive. To the tenth power.

I told Mr. Mom yesterday that I alternate between wanting to burst into tears and stab somebody in the face. (Actually, I think if I could stab somebody THEN have a good cry, I might feel a whole lot better.)

At any other point in my life, I might have called this feeling hormonal. (Sorry male readers.) But I’m pretty sure I’m not hormonal.

I’m pretty sure I’m freaking out. I’m pretty sure I’m flipping my lid because the beautiful young woman in the photo above is moving out.  I’m pretty sure I’m melting down because my mother card is being punched for the last time and I don’t get a new one.

I’ve been a working mother for all of my children’s lives. My own mother raised my children until Mr. Mom took over a few years ago. I have always known my days as a pinch-hitter were numbered. But I looked up not long ago and realized my number had dropped from triple digits to double digits. That’s right, Kate moves away in 79 days.

Seventy-nine days and I’m no longer the mother of a daughter who lives under my roof. Seventy-nine days and anything I wanted to be as a mother, do as a mother, is over. Seventy-nine days and my fate is sealed on what Kate thinks and feels and remembers about her time under my wing. I had my swing at the ball and now I have to go sit in the dugout. Forever.

The thing is — when you are a working mother, you can’t think about your expiration date. You do, of course, but you don’t contemplate it seriously because — damn — you’re just trying to get through the days, you know, with some sliver of your sanity intact. Maybe stay-at-home mothers feel this way, too. I would never know. And maybe their guilt and regret is every bit as intense as those of us who go to the office everyday and work too many nights and weekends and take too many business trips and miss too many school plays and sporting matches.

Maybe the lot of every soul born a woman and who later gives birth is to feel sorrow and guilt and regret and to second-guess every thing she ever did, including the pink lipstick that she insisted upon and that infuriated her daughter on dance recital day, as well as the moment she lost her senses and threw the remote control at the back of her daughter’s head and mercifully missed because she can’t hit a target to save her life. Maybe the lot of every mother is to live out her days convinced all she did was fritter it away and screw it up and believe there is surely a special hell for mothers. Especially neurotic, introspective mothers.

All I know is this mother misses every moment she didn’t get to have with her daughter even though she knows made a bargain with her partner and her end of the bargain included earning a living and now feeling this way is selfish and indulgent, like she wanted it all and knew she couldn’t have it all but is still p-o’d about it.

Hey, I didn’t say I was being rational.

And since I’m not being rational, please don’t tell me about how great it will be to transition to the next stage of motherhood. I cannot hear those words right now. I’m still having a tantrum over this stage coming to an end.

But if you want to tell me I’m normal, not psychotic, that would be appreciated. If you want to tell me this feeling, much like grieving, will diminish with time, then that will be appreciated, too. If you want to commiserate and tell me this transition in a mother’s life sucks big-time — whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mom — then I’ll give you an “Amen, sister.” If you want to hold my hand and cry with me, then come over soon, please, or at least before I get my ugly cry-face on.

Because let’s not compound the tragedy, okay?

With gratitude {for . . . I’m searching . . . I’m searching . . .},

Joan, who feels a little like Anne of the Thousand Days, only she had 7,000 and it’s still not nearly enough



  1. Someday you’ll be a Grandma, and everything will be alright again. D&H

  2. Laurinda Boultinghouse says:

    Joan, I know exactly how you feel. Last Saturday I melted down…BIG time! I thought I was handling this time very well until then. Since then I have felt teary, frustrated, jittery, angry, etc., all the emotions you listed. I’ve been a stay at home mom and I can tell you that I have the doubts and regrets too. Maybe not the exact same ones, but ones still the same. I can’t believe the time has come for our girls to leave us go out into the world. Have I prepared her for it? Is she ready? Realistically I think she is. Am I prepared for it? Am I ready? Realistically, not a chance. At least we can take comfort in the fact that they are going to the same school and will have each other to lean on when we aren’t there! Kate is a wonderful young woman and she’s gonna do GREAT! And from one Mom to another, you’ve done GREAT!

  3. I can only offer my underdeveloped and amateur input.
    Once upon a time there was a girl about to finish highschool. She was the captain of the varsity volleyball team and varsity tennis team. She had a 4.0 grade average and didn’t drink or do drugs. From the little TV I watch it seems like she was a parent’s dream child.
    However said parents only occasionally went to her games, they preferred to hear about them later after she got home. Once she got a car they hardly ever saw eachother as she was a social butterfly and never came home early.
    She graduated. She moved 3 hours away to go to college. Then they REALLY never saw eachother. And hardly talked either.
    It took about 6 months before this girl got even the slightest home sickness. She started to call home more often. They started to talk. They started to get to know eachother. Visits were vague, mostly spend in restaurants and before parents retired to their own hotel. But every emotion drenched minute then spent together (even if it dripped under the surface) was secretly fulfilling to the girl.
    Now a young woman living across the country from her family, they talk often. Know eachother better than ever before. Miss eachother. Live their own lives knowing they have eachother.

    My story is pretty different than yours! I don’t even know how it relates. I guess the main point I wanted to make was that I never felt closer to my parents than when I moved away. That’s when we really started something special.
    I am not bitter towards their un-involvement in my youth. I feel like that’s what made me extremely self-driven and independent. The reason I was able to move to Colorado and start a new life and career in which I refer to as my dream. However I do remember the times they were at one of my games and I felt my heart swell. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Especially true in some cases.

    So I just hope over the next 79 days, you cherish the little moments you ARE with Kate (which we all know you will) and then for the first couple weeks she’s gone, buy an extra buddha statue and pray for patience.
    But I just know in my heart that she appreciates every second you’re around and involved in her life. I’m sure you guys will end up “face-timing” all the time when she is at college 🙂

  4. texasdeb says:

    This is indeed a huge transition and you get to have your moment(s). I felt the same way prior to my daughter leaving for school, and this was after a year or so of calibrated activities on my part designed to keep me distracted and busy enough not to feel the hit.

    I felt it anyway. We are supposed to feel it. Maybe it works like another set of labor pains, only this time we don’t bring the baby home, we let baby fly….out into the world. It is d*mned hard work and I’ll be flogged before I’ll support anybody who says it is easy or unimportant or that you ought not admit to or let your feelings show.

    I let my daughter know I was freaking out, and (more importantly) why. It brought us closer long run. I did try not to let my own processing splash all over her chances to be openly excited and happy about the new chapter opening in her own life. Because while I was totally devastated for me, I was also totally happy for her. Mommies get to have it both ways.

  5. Awww… (((Joan))). Have you considered taking Scarlett O’Hara’s advice, and thinking about this tomorrow? In other words, try to postpone your angst and grief until after Kate leaves for school so you can enjoy these 79 days to their fullest. You can make a lot of wonderful memories in 79 days. Just an idea, from a mom who dreads these feelings that are due for her in three years time.

  6. Friends to the rescue!
    Don, you and Henry always have sage advice and I thank you.
    Laurinda, I appreciate hearing it’s not just working moms who struggle. And I DO feel better knowing Kate will have Caitlyn and Hayden and others nearby to ease their transition. And since our home is so far away, I have hoped that some weekend she is longing for home but can’t make the drive the Missouri, she might go home for the weekend with a Nowata friend.
    Sarah, you can’t know how much you have lifted my spirits. Your story helps me see the next phase in an entirely different light.
    Deb, this blog notwithstanding, I’m trying hard not to splash too much of my own pity on Kate’s parade. And “labor pains” is one of the best metaphors I’ve heard in a long time. Wish I would have thought of it!
    Carole, you are right. Kate and I are headed to NYC (and Hoboken, too!) this summer for five days of kick-up-our-heels mother-daughter bonding. And every single day will be a blessing and will ease the pain of the goodbye trip in August.

    • Laurinda Boultinghouse says:

      I too like the “labor pain” metaphor! Joan I hope you (and Kate) know she will always be welcome at our house if she needs some “home” time!

  7. ElizSeg says:

    Joan – I know you don’t know tons about me but my husband and I started raising our girls after their mother passed in a car accident. They were 8 and 11 at the time and I was 22. I was a fully involved, TOTALLY devoted parent who faced empty nest syndrome at 33 when Caitlin left for college. I thought my heart would break because I was so sad…BUT it gets better. Trust me. In the thick of it you can’t see that the transition which brings your child autonomy, independence and space and leaves you feeling regretful, powerless, and worried has the potential to do magical things to your relationship. In my experience, there was a shift in our relationship and when given some space, they suddenly morphed into these little women who amazed me with the choices they made. They were kind and loving, smart and involved on their campus, they thrived academically, and THEY started to invest in their relationship with me. While I still served as the parent they were accountable to and they sought my praise, they also wanted my insight and input in ways they hadn’t while living under my roof. And best of all, they wanted to come home whenever they could. When I gave them space to flourish, they did so. They still call me every. single. day. even if it’s just a message to say they’re fine and tell me they love me.
    Hang in there and also try to keep in mind that you have raised her well and that the future can hold such promise for an even deeper, equally precious part of parenthood; abiding friendship.

  8. I’m not a mom so I can only really relate as a woman going through a big move, leaving behind a job that defined me for the last 4 years, on my way to owning a house and becoming a wife. These transitions are hard and this one you’re going through is probably one of the hardest. My heart goes out to you.

  9. Laurinda, you are so kind and I have no doubt Kate will take you up on your offer!
    Buffy, I knew you raised your girls but I didn’t realize the circumstances or how young you were when you took it on. Holy cow! Two things you said made me feel so much better — that THEY started investing in the relationship as they got older, and the blessing of abiding friendship that I have to look forward to. Thank you for sharing your story and giving me these glimpses of what is to come.
    Siz, I’m with ya, sister! You are going through so much change right now, I guess the good news is you’ll be an old pro at it after these transitions are over. Try to enjoy the feast in front of you and not look back. (I’m giving myself the same advice right now. Maybe if we say it over and over to ourselves and each other . . .)

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