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No one told me that sending my firstborn off to college would change everything.

Everything.

It’s changed the dinner table, the sibling dynamic, even tree decorating (we put up our Christmas tree before Thanksgiving (a first!) because my oldest was home to see her siblings in Les Mis for a hot minute and we had a small window to do it together).

No one told me that our little family unit would never be the same again. It’s not worse in any way — it may be better, but believe me, it’s different.

No one told me that transitioning my beautiful kid out of our home would change the way I parent the rest of the kids left at home. It’s made me a better mom — more patient, more reflective, less uptight, less controlling. It’s made me relax and relish my children more … because I know what’s coming.

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No one told me that I would live in this bittersweet intersection of watching my child thrive outside of my care and longing to have her back home at the same time — but knowing that neither of us would be content if I got my way.

No one told me that it would be fun and hilarious watching my kid learn and experience new things away from home. (This week she asked me how long it would take to microwave a turkey. I didn’t hesitate to answer her prank question (2 hours, rotate every 15 minutes) because I totally believed this was a cooking lesson she needed to experience).

No one told me how much easier it was for my newly budget-conscious, work study, college kid to spend my money than hers. If I’m in a 100-mile radius, she wants me to put gas in her car.

No one told me the happier they are the less you hear from them (or that I would become a social media stalker hanging on bits and pieces of her active life).

No one told me that your grown-up kids are making huge decisions every day or how hard it is for them to come back home and be your little kid.

No one told me how much I would cherish and live for the moments when all my babies are together in the same car, the same room, under the same roof.

No one told me that I would move heaven and earth to make those moments happen.

No one told me that this parenting thing is beautiful and brutal on a mom’s heart.

No one told me, so I’m telling you.

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