The secret sorrow of parents sending their children off to college

My first-born child is leaving for college. I am not okay. I am freaking out.

Parents must confront reality when their children leave for college.
(Image credit: Judith Collins / Alamy Stock Photo)

My family's three small bedrooms are smushed side by side by side like hideaway nests. Perched above the bustling world with its snapping predators, careless traffic, and vexing noise, the cozy treehouse where we slumber in proximity is quiet and still. Warm and laundry-scented. Closely knit.

For literally thousands of mornings, I've opened my eyes to the sunlit, soul-settling certainty that the people who matter most to me are within earshot of a groggy-but-grateful "G' morney!" Even when I wake from pre-dawn nightmares, their collective presence offers deep and immediate comfort. It's an absolute: As sure the sun will rise, my husband and two sons are near me, curled up, tucked in, at ease and at peace.

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