Patrick Leaves for College Today

The last time a child left for college, I allowed myself  to be very vulnerable online in the days that immediately followed. I mused aloud, did a lot of soul searching, took a long look at homemaking and mothering and home education up to that point. I left my heart bare. It was probably one of the worst mistakes I've ever made. I doubt I'll ever fully recover and I know I'll never do that again.

I know now that there are some people who will never understand the enormity of such transitions in a wholehearted household, particularly in the soul of a woman. They will never understand how a mother's heart and home are not fair game, especially at a tender time.

And I know that there are kindred spirits who understand without words.

For those dear friends, I'm very grateful.


So. Here goes. The leaving-to-college post.

Goodbyes don't seem to get easier for me. If anything, knowing how this whole off-to-college thing can play out makes goodbye harder. I really like our family life, so change doesn't come without a huge struggle. Patrick, however, has said goodbye previously; we've had a bit of a practice. And we have a good coping strategy. Last time, Mary Beth made a slideshow for him. The plan this time was to update the slideshow (particularly to include Hilary), but I have just discovered that all the pictures from the first time (and from most of the last 3 years of family life), carefully saved on an external hard-drive, are now inaccessible. And since that is way too much emotional overload for me to process today, I'm just going to re-run the old slideshow. The sentiments are all the same. We love this boy so much and our "wish" is really a fervent prayer.

Paddy is so ready to take on the world. And he is going to both bless and be blessed by the University of Virginia and that sweet place of heaven-on-earth called Charlottesville. It's going to be amazing!

Your prayers for him are very much appreciated.

Hilary, tea time is at 2:00 and the girlies are so looking forward to having you with them this afternoon! It's all good. God's got this.


  1. says

    Lovely. Isn’t it ironic how we wonder with each child if we will have enough love for him or her? Then, we realize, oh, yes, we do. We have an enormous capacity to love.
    Then, it’s time for milestones. Each milestones brings celebration but it also brings them closer to leaving. The leaving is so hard on mothers.
    We then start to wonder how much of my heart can hurt as part of it leaves with the child.
    Many hugs and whole heck of a lot of prayers to you, your children and Hilary. Oh, and your husband. This leavetaking is hard on everyone.

  2. Irene says

    God bless you and your family, Elizabeth. My mom’s friend once told her when she dropped her fourth child off at college that “it gets easier as you do it more often” and then called her two hours later to tell her that it doesn’t get easier, it gets harder. I definitely feel where you and your family and all those people close to patrick are today. May Our Lady wrap you in her mantle as you go through this transition. You’re in my prayers.

  3. says

    Oh sweetie. I understand (and I remember too, last time). I don’t know how I’ll bear it when my youngest ones reach this milestone, I really don’t.
    {{hugs}} and prayers and many warm thoughts.

  4. says

    Prayers for you all Elizabeth. “God’s got this” has become sort of a motto around here to pulled out to reassure me probably more than anyone else.

  5. Patty says

    “God’s got this.”
    You’ve done it again, Elizabeth.
    ” No, it doesn’t get easier. And I’m not sure we really want it to get easier. What would it mean if it did?”
    Amen. Praying for you all as you work through this new period of change.

  6. says

    I often look away from posts like this, Elizabeth, because I only have two chicks in my nest and cannot even consider how it will feel when they leave, especially as they give me most of my emotional fulfilment and connexion, so my thoughts and prayers are with you. You have been such a good mother and your son has that treasured away in his heart, now and forever.

  7. Ellen Genova says

    I have your blog for years and have never comments. I re-speak your words often to my husband, my children and my dear friends. I have never posted until today. I want you to know I LOVE your heart. I love the way you “do family”. I admire everything about you and pray for you and your family often. And you are right, “God does have this”. Praying especially for you today!

  8. says

    My oldest three are all at college now, and I agree that nothing makes the transition easier…
    Kudos to you for saying so…a large part of my silence online in the past few years is that I didn’t want to say much about how I felt publicly. It is nice to know that other mamas are struggling with the feelings as the chicks leave the nest.
    It does take a little bit of the sting off to see them *loving* their work. Sooo proud…and soooo spoiling my youngest ones. The years pass by so quickly.

  9. says

    I wish I could say “I understand” – but I don’t – not yet: my oldest commutes from home to college and the rest are still here for me. That may change next year while my sr figures out where she wants to go (away seems a bit more likely) I am praying now that I may endure the leavetaking with as much grace as you.
    Many prayers for the Foss family (Hilary included) during this new time of transition.

  10. Susan Dow says

    Your heartfelt words have helped, inspired and encouraged me so many times. May God bless you during this time. With Gratitude and my prayers.

  11. says

    And when they are married and bring home their beautiful new baby to your arms, it will still hurt. I don’t expect to ever stop longing for the days when all my chicks were in my nest.

  12. says

    Today child #8 said, “Hey mom when we all don’t live here…” I promptly told his dad to punish him for saying that!!!
    With love and thoughts from…a kindred spirit who understands without words!

  13. Claire says

    My heart goes out to you during this transition. I can only imagine how hard it will be for me when I’m in your shoes in another 13 years. I gather from the beginning of this post that some people belittled the pain you were experiencing when you went through this a few years ago. If that’s the case, I am very sorry that you were treated that way. If some people don’t find it painful to say goodbye when their kids leave the house, that’s great for them. But for those of us who find it painful, that pain is real and it’s valid and it deserves either an empathetic response or no response at all.

  14. Amie says

    I have had three leave in a little over a year: one married, one to live with friends, and one just left for college last week. I totally get what you said about being vulnerable and I know the ache. Praying for you and pray for me!

  15. Barclay says

    Thank you for your vulnerability and I understand the need to not be so in this public arena, but you have blessed me and I cherish that! My prayers are with you at this time, I bring my daughter, the first daughter, to college tomorrow!

  16. Antonia says

    My first born leaves for college next fall…I already feel the enormity of it, and cry whenever he seems to be doing something for one of the last times.

  17. Lisa H. says

    I want to thank you, Elizabeth, for the inspiration you give to all who come here. My son left last week after being home with us for Christmas. Even though this is his 3rd year of being some 900 miles away, it is still hard to see him go. Thankfully, he is very happy. I have extended family members who don’t understand why I miss him. Thankfully, my husband and my girls are supportive. God bless you for sharing with all of us, and God bless the Foss family.

  18. Lisa says

    said goodbye to Joe on Tues, and – unless a miracle occurs – won’t see him until late May. most painful and sweet and healing is the cries of his 2 y/o youngest brother. We cry together, we hold eachother, we talk and talk and talk about airplanes going up and far away. What will I do when I don’t have someone small to snuggle as I say goodbye? God reminds me often these days to live in the present moment…..

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