Tears Of Pride And Joy

College Move in Day: Goodbye with tears of pride and joy

Well I did it! I dropped off my oldest child at school in another state….make that two states away and I am doing pretty good and going on almost 4 weeks. Daily people are coming up to me making sure I am OK. To add to that, for weeks before our departure people would come up to me and be worried about the transition. I had more anxiety about this one event then I did to even give birth to this child of mine. I would sit and wonder when am I going to collapse in a fit of tears? When will I not be able to get out of bed because I miss my child so much? And then I was thinking to myself, am I even normal because I am not crying or am I an ice queen? But get this, I am not sad, I am in fact happy {maybe I am an ice queen?}! I have friends with all ranges of emotions….some are still sad….some wanted to move to the town their child was going to school….some are still sad and their child only moved a few miles away. The best advice I got was from a friend who told me to only cry tears of pride and joy.  I kept that in my mind the whole 24 hours of college move in. I also kept that saying in my mind as I said goodbye  for a second time after our recent parent weekend. He was doing great, so it is right to have only tears of pride and joy. I remind my son that my tears are because I love him and that I am proud of him.

Parent’s Weekend: Goodbye with tears of pride and joy

This is what I know; we prepare our children to leave our homes. It is a natural transition. But how long should we keep their bedrooms undisturbed? As a professional organizer, I see these are rooms that are full of possibilities. These are the rooms where a parent can take a hobby and create a private space.  I have a friend whose policy is to leave the bedroom for exactly two years and then it is gone. It took me exactly 3 days to convert my son’s bedroom. My youngest has moved into my oldest son’s bedroom and my youngest son’s room is now my office. I needed an office as I work from home and I was tired of working on the kitchen island.

My oldest son knew that his room was not going to be his once he left. He was fine with it. However some of my clients have their children’s bedrooms years later and yet they are struggling to find space in their house to put items. Or maybe the parent has a model train hobby that needs to be picked up and put away whenever company comes over because it is set up in the living room?  But there stands a room down the hall; where every trophy and poster is still in its original space. These childhood bedrooms are spaces that continue to need to be dusted, vacuumed and cleaned, only to be used a few weekends a year when the child returns home at holidays or school breaks.  Rarely do they think to go into the child’s bedroom and create a room just for them, the parent. Maybe I learned from my parents?  My dad has a guitar room {my sister’s old bedroom} and my mom has a quilting room {my other sister’s bedroom}.  They have a space to call their own. No more sheet music and fabric scraps scattered in unorganized fashion in the living room. Maybe it is the secret to their long marriage?!

But what I want to know, what is “normal”?  How long should children expect to have a bedroom of their own to return to? So I turned to Psychiatrist Dr. Emmet Kenney of St. Sophie’s in Fargo, North Dakota and St. James in Bismarck, North Dakota.  Dr. Kenney is board certified in Adult Psychiatry as well as Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, so he is equipped to help both the parent and the child in the transition. Dr. Kenney believes that, “Life has many phases and changes.  When our children are young, we hold them close and create a home that is their nest.  We feather it every day.  Then they get big.  They don’t really fit and they need to fly on their own.  There are many family dynamics that play out in a process referred to as ‘emancipation’.  The young person may feel relieved that they can finally be on their own, stay out as late as they want and not be checked up on by parents.  The parents feel the freedom even more!” 

Dr. Kenney adds, “‘Senioritis’is a process before leaving of getting itchy for the change.  Seniors (that is, high school seniors) devalue their supports and the supports get weary of it.  It does serve a purpose- to make the normal, healthy process of entering the next phase of life a possible and even welcome change.  This gets played out symbolically by re-claiming the nest- re-dedicating space and moving on psychologically.  The adult-child is transitioning to becoming more of a friend to their parent and less of a dependent.  Many of my friends who have gone through this comment ‘Go ahead.  You’ll never be smarter than you are now!’  We can relate because we’ve been through it with our own parents.  And life moves on… and we need to enjoy the process.”

So I ask of you, when you see a parent who has a child that has left for school, military service or a job; be excited for them.  It is obvious that our children are ready to move on, shouldn’t we be too? Our goal is to have our children support themselves and find their own way in life, with us being there to cheer them on. Just like when they were learning to walk or ride bike, they may fall, but we just need to dust them off give them a hug and tell them to try again. So as the parent, get ready to grab a box and pack up those memories. But think of this as a start to create some new ones for yourself in your new space!

Dr. Emmet Kenney of St. Sophie’s of North Dakota {3137 32nd Ave. S. Suite 223 Fargo, ND (701)-365-4488} and St. James of North Dakota {3000 N. 14th Suite 2A Bismarck, ND (701)751-8008}.Dr. Kenney is board certified in Adult Psychiatry as well as Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


To Joyful, Simplified Living,


MS. Simplicity


MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at http://www.mssimplicity.com/