And They’re Gone …

 

My youngest daughter had to do her first semester at Georgetown at home on a laptop, but this morning, she left for D.C. to move into her apartment. My other two daughters have already left home. Things are different now. I really don’t remember my life before my daughters arrived. For 22 years, our house has been an explosion of blonde hair, pink bows, Barbie Dolls, athletic equipment, nail polish, multivariable calculus textbooks, stuffed animals, musical instruments, and endless wonderful chaos. Now it’s very quiet. They’re gone.

I knew they would leave at some point. That’s the whole idea, of course. Every Dad knows that his time with his daughters is brief and finite. And I’m so thankful for the time we had together. Every minute was wonderful – even the ones that weren’t, if that makes any sense.

We had a lot a great adventures together, like in the picture above from 2012; going fishing for bluegills in ponds back in the woods. And I’m so happy that they’re out there today, finding their own adventures now. Just like in the picture, they’ve got exploring to do. As it should be.

But I just can’t believe they’re gone.

I miss my little girls.

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  1. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge
    DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone
    @DrewInWisconsin

    My daughters are 15 and 17. I’m already a wreck just thinking about their imminent departure, and they haven’t even left home yet. When they do, I’m going to be inconsolable.

    And my wife won’t even let me get a dog.

    • #1
  2. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Nice story Doc. You are a lucky man. Your daughters will surely leave to live their own lives, but they will never leave your heart…nor you their’s. 

    • #2
  3. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Well, give a few years and, if you’re lucky, they’ll bring you worthy sons-in-law and grand-daughters. May you be blessed until your cup overflows. Sounds like it’s already topped off nicely.

    Good to see you back. How are you feeling?

    • #3
  4. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    My eldest is well into her 2nd year of college, and is dating a guy who I think has high prospects of marrying her.

    #2 got her license several months ago, and is well on her own way to independence, with very lively academic, sports (competitive dance), and social lives.

    #3 is already plotting her career.

    #4 is awkwardly straddling the line between childhood and teenager.

    The time is short.

    • #4
  5. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Doc, I won’t even pretend to mere tearing up: I’m bawling a little. My daughters still have 5-10 years to go, my son probably only 3-5 more years, but I’m keenly aware of what awaits. Yes it’s as it should be, but I already feel how bittersweet it will be. If we were neighbors I have you over for some libations around the campfire or a trip to the tavern. As it is – all I can say is good job, now what’s next?

    • #5
  6. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    We’re glad you are here. 

    • #6
  7. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    The days are long, but the years are short.

    • #7
  8. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    To this day, when my kids have been visiting us for a few days, when they leave I have a terrible pit in my stomach that lasts all day and evening. Just moving around the empty house is horrible for me. I feel better the next day, but the day they leave is really awful.

    I did find when the kids were in college that driving them to school and dropping them off was, for some reason, much less stressful than having them leave for school from our house. I have no idea why, but it was much easier to part with them when I left them at school than it was when they left our house to go back to school. Perhaps it was that nice time we spent in the car together.

    When my daughters were in middle school, they were both involved in our local string program. One year they made a trip to Montreal for an exchange concert. My dear friends and fellow parents and I had worked for a solid year on the fund-raising and rehearsals to make this trip possible. We had been going full tilt every second of every day.

    Then the day came for the kids to get on the bus and depart. We were all excited for them. But when the bus closed its door and pulled out of the school driveway, as we were waving good-bye to the kids, I looked to the right and left of me and saw my friends with tears running down their cheeks, one with her daughter’s well-loved teddy bear in her hand–“I guess I don’t need this after all, Mom.”

    It is very hard to be a parent sometimes.

    • #8
  9. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone (View Comment):

    My daughters are 15 and 17. I’m already a wreck just thinking about their imminent departure, and they haven’t even left home yet. When they do, I’m going to be inconsolable.

    And my wife won’t even let me get a dog.

    My parents got our cats 2 years before I left for college, and I was informed that they were my replacements, but with better personalities. Upgrades, really.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):

    The days are long, but the years are short.

    That says it all. 

    • #10
  11. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    As someone’s daughter who moved 3k miles, and immigrated to a new country, for college, I’d just like to congratulate you for being such a mature parent. A lot of the parents who had kids in my grade, and colleagues from the school my mom works at, were shocked that they would let me do that. And a lot of kids that I went to high school with ended up staying close to home not for financial reasons, but because their parents insisted that they would get homesick and end up transferring back to the local community college, or a UMass, so they might as well just go there anyway. I know full well that, however proud they were of me for getting into the program I did, they were also sad to see me go (especially so far), but they helped me to get everything in order the way I needed and offered support and options, instead of anger and emotional blackmail. It’s really nice to see someone encourage their kids to be independent and have new experiences. And love their kids so much.

    • #11
  12. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone (View Comment):

    My daughters are 15 and 17. I’m already a wreck just thinking about their imminent departure, and they haven’t even left home yet. When they do, I’m going to be inconsolable.

    And my wife won’t even let me get a dog.

    My parents got our cats 2 years before I left for college, and I was informed that they were my replacements, but with better personalities. Upgrades, really.

    Each of my kids has their own cat. Daughter #1’s cat I think likes me more than she does my daughter.

    Daughter #4’s cat is another matter. I have named this cat Pisscat, and on account of her we have to keep all bedroom doors closed, and have put up electric scat-mats (they zap cats who walk on them) in many corners, under tables, and in sundry other places. This cat is not an upgrade – at least my daughter grew out of diapers. 

    Note: I do not recommend trying to diaper a cat, whatever the temptation.

    • #12
  13. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Dr. Bastiat: I miss my little girls.

    And that will never go away. At least it hadn’t for me and my little girl left for college in 2007.

    I’ll tell you a departure story…

    She was packing up to go off to school and came up from the basement with one of my Dad’s old knives – an old but vicious K-Bar. “Daddy, you think it’d be OK if I took this with me?”

    ”Absolutely fine sweetheart” (I have rarely been happier)

    A year or so back she was visiting. We were at the kitchen table and she was rummaging through her purse looking for something that had sunken to the bottom. (side question – ladies, what in blue blazes do you keep in there?). She started extracting stuff… cellphone, wallet, lipstick, K-Bar, sunglasses …

    That’s the way to keep a father happy.

    • #13
  14. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Don’t go weepy on us, Doc.

    I have both a son and daughter still at home but when the time comes, I know it will be different with the girl . . . and if that’s sexist, so be it.

    • #14
  15. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Empty nesting is a shock at first. We were eased into it. Oldest went to college 30 minutes away. Youngest was 2 hours away. Oldest moved to Chattanooga after she married. Obama convinced them to move back here by killing jobs for engineers in the coal power plants. Now, my house is full of grand children today. School is closed for weekly cleaning so we are homeschooling. Youngest is only 2 hours away. We survived the empty nest and things got

    Once a year, they leave the kids with the husbands and we take an old fashion vacation together. It is a nice time.

    • #15
  16. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Daughters are special. My wife and I didn’t really go through empty nest syndrome. Our son was two hours away from home when he was a student at university. Our daughter was closer to home when she was a university student. This is still one of my favorite photos of our daughter. We were babysitting our first grandson and she stopped by the house when she was on a meal break as a police officer. She was holding her first nephew.

    • #16
  17. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Well, give a few years and, if you’re lucky, they’ll bring you worthy sons-in-law and grand-daughters. May you be blessed until your cup overflows. Sounds like it’s already topped off nicely.

    Good to see you back. How are you feeling?

    You’re right – my cup overflows. Strange that I feel so empty.

    I’m getting better, thanks. Still sleeping over 12 hours a day – still tired all the time. But getting better.

    • #17
  18. WalterWatchpocket Coolidge
    WalterWatchpocket
    @WalterWatchpocket

    My wife and I experienced every emotion mentioned and more, when our last child left home.

    However, we followed up with a party complete with champagne that lasted for days, weeks (actually years). We relished the time where it was just the two of us and enjoyed it thoroughly. My advice is to take advantage of this gift from God. When the grandchildren arrived, it was pure pleasure. Life is GRAND!!

    • #18
  19. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I call it the incredible agony of a job done well.

    • #19
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Daughters are special. My wife and I didn’t really go through empty nest syndrome. Our son was two hours away from home when he was a student at university. Our daughter was closer to home when she was a university student. This is still one of my favorite photos of our daughter. We were babysitting our first grandson and she stopped by the house when she was on a meal break as a police officer. She was holding her first nephew.

    Aw. Just look at that cute little face. You just know that his first words will be “Call my lawyer.”

    • #20
  21. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Dr. Bastiat: I miss my little girls.

    Don’t worry. Odds are they’ll come back from time to time.

    Our middle daughter moved out to live with youngest daughter and her husband. She is the official nanny for our grandson, and will help out when youngest daughter goes back to school to get her medical coding certificate. I expect her to come 1) when they boot her out, or 2) if youngest has another baby and they need the space. Oldest daughter has changed jobs, so she moved back into our house until she moves to Columbia, where her new job is located. She’s telecommuting now, and will continue once she moves in with her boyfriend, also in Columbia. Yeah, I know. But if they get hitched (which is likely), then I’m a happy Pappy . . .

    • #21
  22. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    Note: I do not recommend trying to diaper a cat, whatever the temptation.

    LOL. The mind boggles.* Puts me in mind of this recipe, in the Eskimo Cookbook:

    LOON SOUP

    Do not make loon soup.

    Wisdom.

    Dr. Bastiat: And they’re gone.

    But you’re not. And right now, that warms the cockles of my heart. (Hey! You’re a medico. What, and where, exactly, are the “cockles of my heart?”) 

    Hope you’re feeling better. I don’t have any sage advice for you other than (as a daughter myself, and as the wicked stepmother of Mr. She’s youngest) that there will never, ever be a time when those little girls young women don’t love, and need, their Daddy. Doesn’t matter what other man is in their lives, if they’re married, how long they’ve been married, or if they have kids of their own. You were the first. And you’ll ever be so.

    *Also reminds me of one of my first pets, “Tiddles” the cat. I used to dress her up in a mobcap and apron, à la Beatrix Potter’s Tabitha Twitchet, and push her around the garden in my doll’s perambulator (baby carriage). One day, she decided to give birth during our peripatetic exercise. I was about four. And fascinated. My mother always delighted to tell the story, particularly of my fascinated concentration and occasional shrieks of “Ooh, look Mummy! Here comes another one!” Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    • #22
  23. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    You sent them to the Jesuits?

    • #23
  24. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    You sent them to the Jesuits?

    Ha! It’s a survivable event for those strong in spirit. And I think it’s “one” not them.

    • #24
  25. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    You sent them to the Jesuits?

    Ha! It’s a survivable event for those strong in spirit. And I think it’s “one” not them.

    I applied there for grad school. I wouldn’t mind surviving the MS in Foreign Service.

    • #25
  26. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    You sent them to the Jesuits?

    Ha! It’s a survivable event for those strong in spirit. And I think it’s “one” not them.

    Pollyanna.

    • #26
  27. Pony Convertible Member
    Pony Convertible
    @PonyConvertible

    There is a bright side. When we became empty-nesters, my wife & I rediscovered each other as our focus shifted to each other instead of the kids. Its been fun and joyful. We miss the kids, but we don’t, if that makes sense. 

    My advice to those of you who still have kids at home is, make your spouse your priority, ahead of the kids. The kids will leave and you will be left with what you sowed. 

    • #27
  28. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Pony Convertible (View Comment):
    The kids will leave and you will be left with what you sowed. 

    And owed.

    • #28
  29. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    You sent them to the Jesuits?

    Ha! It’s a survivable event for those strong in spirit. And I think it’s “one” not them.

    I applied there for grad school. I wouldn’t mind surviving the MS in Foreign Service.

    Don’t know about the grad programs, but the undergrad FS school has slid left unfortunately. O’Sullivan’s law.

    • #29
  30. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    You sent them to the Jesuits?

    Ha! It’s a survivable event for those strong in spirit. And I think it’s “one” not them.

    I applied there for grad school. I wouldn’t mind surviving the MS in Foreign Service.

    Don’t know about the grad programs, but the undergrad FS school has slid left unfortunately. O’Sullivan’s law.

    I spent a few years up the hill at American University. I cannot verify the historical accuracy of this story, but this is the dormitory lore explaining the enmity between AU and Gtown….

    Back in the 60’s, AU was headquarters for SDS. The leftist politics went hand in hand with a drug fueled lifestyle. One fine day some Georgetown grad students in short hair, suits and ties showed up at one of the AU dormitory complexes and announced themselves as Fed’s. (For some arcane reason, the authorities are not allowed inside the dormitories without the permission of the campus police. I know this is true as Abbie Hoffman upon coming out of hiding in the early 80’s made an appearance at AU and even though there were outstanding warrants he could not be arrested while inside the campus facilities). Anyway… while the dorm folks contacted campus security and the ‘Fed’s’ cooled their heels downstairs, word spread like wildfire upstairs. “Fed’s…it’s a RAID!” Panicked students started tossing contraband out their dorm room windows. Outside, the ‘Fed’s’ compatriots were busy collecting enough jettisoned party supplies and paraphernalia to last for weeks. Before campus security arrived the G’towners fled with their booty. I heard the story 10 years later and people were still carrying a grudge. It was an indelible stain on AU… the shame of getting picked off by Georgetown.

    • #30