One day these teens will grow up and move out, they’ll be leaving the nest, as they say. We know it’s coming, we prepare for it. We try to enjoy all of those “lasts” as they pile up. But the time comes for them to move on before we know it.
And sometimes it comes faster than we had planned. My oldest ended up needing to move up to college in the summer before the start of his freshman year. I was beyond excited for him…but I knew this meant that things would always be different from this point forward. He would be forever coming “back home” or “going to his parent’s house”.
In the years since he’s been in college we’ve moved him in and out of the dorms, into a temporary situation after covid and then finally into the spot he’s settled into for the past couple years in his little town.
Sometimes your kids do the college thing…and other times they do something different (also…we should be better about simply asking what college seniors are going to after graduation, not everyone goes that route and that’s more than ok. Let’s start asking what plans they have after school…see how their face lights up when they start telling you the fun things they have planned). Just as you would celebrate and take photos of sending your kid off to college, make sure that you’re documenting these other first steps too.
We’ve love watching and being a part of her adventures. Seeing your child bloom in their happy place is truly the most amazing thing.
Then…the last one. It really doesn’t matter how many you’ve helped leave the nest, they each are like a punch to the gut. You honestly think you’re ready…and then you’re just not. This one is still fresh…just a few months. We’re adjusting and the morning phone calls help a ton.
I make sure to take every opportunity I can find to get images of the three of them together when I have the chance. Our days look different and the times that we’re together as a family of five are few and far between these days. Sometimes we’ve got one home, or maybe two. But time with all three is getting harder to find. The first years I always had such high expectations when we were together, trying to squeeze everything in…now I just focus on time. If we’re in the same house – that’s a win. If I get a hug after a quick 15 minute visit – I take it and treasure it. Take the pressure off your kids (and yourself) and just enjoy the time.
And also…since they’ve started spreading their wings I’ve realized even more how important it is to get photos of the parents with the kids too. Forget about the 15 pounds you’d like to lose, forget about the fact that you “don’t love being in front of the camera” and take the photo. You and your kids will be grateful. I promise. It also gets easier the more you do it 🙂 And if a kid asks for a photo – ALWAYS say yes. Always.
I saw a post recently from a parent of a new senior asking for advice…what not to miss, what was ok to miss. General advice and all of that. From many people the message was NOT to focus on the “lasts”, don’t bring on the sadness, that we should celebrate more than ruminate. I respectfully disagree. These “lasts” are just as important as those “firsts” were in my opinion. Honor where we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going. I wanted my kids to know that I loved these moments for them. That I will miss them…and that I am so excited and proud of them. WE CAN EXIST IN THE AND. Sad and excited. Lonely for our kids and excited to be on our own. But maybe don’t go into their room right after dropping them off on their next adventure. That stings a bit.
Sometimes they move out and leave the nest…and sometimes they come back. It’s a great big step for them and for you and documenting those big and little moments is important to your story and to theirs. Do you remember leaving the nest? What do those memories look like for you? What do they look like for your parents?
Happy Documenting, and remember….if you think you should take a photo of it, do it.
Jan 23, 2023