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Monday, 28 January 2013


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Just wishing you luck and an easier (it's never really easy) transition, Mike. My daughter starts high school this fall, still four years to college, yet I've already started to dread that moment you are going through now.

As the saying goes "I feel for you". BTDT. It is a change but it will get more comfortable with time. If he has a computer you might try Skype to feel a little less detached.

My daughter left for her 2nd semester early this morning...Certainly things aren't quite the same. I had taught her some basic photography, but not too sure how it will turn up. She had with her a Panasonic zs3 which is a ultrazoom, not much creative capability...

That happens to every parent, Mike. When it comes to me (wait another ten some years), I will be a bit older than you are now.

Poignant sentiments, expressive photograph. Here's to you, Mike.

Empathy squared. My kid, Ben, is a Junior in high school and most nights after dinner we all sit around the table and research colleges and universities. With every college we consider comes the reminder that he'll be away after next year. Everything will be different...

(damn ellipses..)

It'll get easier, but if you're like my wife and me, you'll continue to experience it. A week ago, we took our youngest child back to university for the last semester of her senior year. We both felt the house was just a little bit emptier (okay - a LOT emptier) after having her around over the four-week holiday break. But she'll probably move in after commencement in May, because who knows where (or if) she'll be working come next fall.

"More than anything, I'm hoping he has a good experience at college—he's ready for it, I think."

He may be ready, you're not especially as you raised him as a totally single parent.

Big hugs of care to you Mike!

From the heart. Nice piece. The good news is your kid will get through it, as will you.

I had an empty nest for fifty two years and then became the father of twins, who are now almost eleven. This summer they will go to sleep away camp for a month how happy and sad I will be.
The healthy bird leaves the nest and the swallows return to Capistrano.

"Each face seemed to define
Just what it saw departing"

Philip Larkin

Both our sons are attending classes as they work. Though we would miss them very much, I wish they could have had the experience of being away from us and on their own.
Either way its something to deal with and get used to.
Good luck to you and your son.

Hi Mike,

Yeah, you have my sympathies! My oldest just graduated this December, and Grace went off for her second semester this morning. By the way, she though your boy was pretty cute when we did the sushi meet up.

And I've probably thanked you already for this, but thanks again---for getting me hooked on that sushi stuff... :-)


One of the rites of passage.
Now get ready for the classic college student request: "Don't send love, send money".

Well, there's a milestone for you.

May you find joy in this next phase of your life!

And you haven't, of course, "lost" your son, it's just that the relationship is moving on to the next stage.

Thanks to everyone for the nice comments. Makes me feel better.


Whats his major? Or has he picked one yet?

I have an eleven-yr. old. I can't imagine being able to send her off into the world on her own! But I'm sure the upcoming teenage years will knock some of that out of me. :-)

Don't forget, Mike... you're son will be coming home often to get the dirty laundry done and to load up on some home cooking.

My best wishes for your son in college. My own experience with two of our children is that time and distance have brought them closer to us now after they have left college and physically gone further. But yes, an empty nest is not easy to bear.

Take some time to reflect on a job well done. You've earned it.


As a son who moved a long way from home to go to college (a different country), I can assure you it will take him some time to get used to as well.

You must be very proud of him, and you should be very proud of yourself for having raised him so well.

Hi Mike, I wish you and your son good luck in this new pahse of your lifes. My son also left home for the University September 2012. I live in Portugal and he went to study in the UK, so he is more thn 100 minutes away... we sure miss him, but its a lot easier with Skype:)

And my daughter is still at home, so that helps too. My son's room, well that is another story, it never was, and never will be, properly tidy...

All the best


Feelin' for you Mike. I'm thinking about how I'll deal with that and my daughters are six months and five years old! But he'll come back to you different and with a more complete sense of his own self and the world. And you'll have a whole new world of stuff to talk about. And it opens up again when they have kids. I know from how my relationship with my own parents has changed and deepened since we've had our own kids. It hits me every time I realise just how much I love my kids that this is how much my own folks loved me (and still do).

Re featured comment from Mike "Yeah, it will pass." For some of us it takes much longer. I am not known as the sensitive type, but for a few months after our daughter went to college I would wake up in the middle of the night and cry for no particular reason. I would cry while driving when I thought of her. It took a while, quite a while. And it never really passed, I just got used to the feeling of emptiness. She was never a burden of any type so there was never a feeling of freedom... perhaps because I am at least 20 years removed from retirement. If I learned one thing from the experience, it was to call and see my parents as often as I possibly could. Until our daughter left for college I never understood how my mother felt when I was leaving to relocate 10 time zones away. Now I do. Better late than never.

David D-B says it well, it's a relationship moving on to the next stage. Incomparable to the leaving of an ex-lover. No use denying the initial loneliness, but you will feel, I think and hope, that in the somewhat longer run it also widens your world. I never feel without my two sons, now 27 and 25.
And you deserve every one's and your own admiration for weaving these threads in life's tapistry. After all is said and done, nothing is more important than giving the next generation a good, wholesome start. So here's to you!

What everyone else said. Plus, great shot, and a perfect spot for it.

Good on you, Mike. No doubt you've done a fine job bringing Zander to this point.

Of course, for Zander it's a great adventure.

I had always hoped my son would have a good experience in college too, but what I hoped for the most was that he would get a good education. Apparently he didn't have such a good experience (I'm understating here), but he did get a good education nonetheless. We see one another once or twice a year, and despite email and the telephone, I do still miss him, thirteen years later.

I was a single father with two teenage sons. Taking each one to out of state colleges was difficult. The drives home were longer in mind than miles. Sensing the poignancy through your windshield, your feelings were as gray as the weather.

Take heart, your son is where he needs to be to grow and mature well.

I once watched a tv discussion about the ethical topic "When exactly does human life begin?". A participant commented: "It really begins when the kids leave the house."

I feel for you Mike. Been through it with two daughters. But like they say, kids are like bad zits, they keep coming back ;)

I became a father not 2 years ago. I can well imagine how you feel, Mike. At least you have all of us to keep you busy!

He still needs you, Mike. Help him get through school. It took me three tries before I finally completed a BA, 7 years after my projected class of '72. I think I did it because I was finally old enough, but also because people had all of my life, unflaggingly, expected me to. I wandered into a class called "The History of Photography" overseen by one Beaumont Newhall, and I learned what my eyes were for. If I could only do it all over again.
Thank you for sharing, and I mean that....


Well you managed to bring tears to my eyes once again.


It gets better from what my parents told me.

I married in my early 40s and now have an 11 year old, an 8 year old and a 5.5 year old. I am already dreading them leaving the house and getting on with their lives because as trying as parenting is, it is fun and fascinating. My wife can't wait for the freedom though I know she will miss them.

By the way, you mentioned "sudden single parenthood" in your post. I can imagine the circumstances surrounding how you suddenly found out you were a dad, but others on this site know the story. For those of us who don't know it, can you please tell us, if it isn't too personal?

I handle alot of adoptions as a part of my law practice so I am incredibly interested in how families are built and made.


I probably need to write that book.

Short-short-short version: an ex-girlfriend who got pregnant decided to put the baby up for closed adoption without telling me. I never suspected she was pregnant. Private detectives working for the prospective adoptive parents found me in spite of her and tried to get me to sign away my rights; I decided instead that if he was mine, I'd take him and raise him. High drama ensued. Everyone involved was *very* unhappy with me for wrecking all their carefully laid plans (you doubtless can sympathize with this from the "other side"). Ended up with the prospective adoptive parents suing to annul their custody and his mother refusing to take him back, which would have put him into State foster care--where there were zero vacancies, which meant he would have been "warehoused" (the State social worker's word) at a VA hospital until he could be placed in a foster home. I got very inventive and managed to extricate him from that situation, but one thing it meant was that I had exactly nine hours, starting at midnight(!), to prepare for bringing him home. And I had never changed a diaper before in my life, much less any of the rest of it.

A true adventure. We moved away from Maryland (per his mother's wishes) six weeks later, Zander on a plane in the arms of his great-aunt, and me following along below in a rented U-Haul truck.

In the five days between the time I first learned of him and the time I brought him home, I essentially didn't sleep or eat, and lost more than 15 pounds. With that and the stress of raising an infant alone, and moving to a strange city and searching for a job, it was basically two years before I recovered physically from the ordeal. A little longer than that emotionally, meaning, probably hasn't quite happened yet....



Dear Mike,

I love the picture. I feel the sadness in it.
It was difficult for my folks, too, when I left.
I will always go back, until the end.

Mike, my son lost his mother (and I my wife) at the age of 15 and left home after six years of single parenthood education at age 21. He his now 26 and still comes for laundry and home-cooked meals (cfr Jamie Pillers's comment at 09:33 PM, monday ). Oh well !

PS: By the way, OTPosts seem to have slipped from sunday to monday...

Hey Mike,
Yesterday was my son's first day of his career. My son made it through his folks divorce at the start of college, made it through his double college majors and ROTC and is now at his first duty station as a Lieutenant. He called me last night to "thank me for helping him get there." Wow, it really does happen.

Brace yourself, Mike, as this is just the beginning. Next up, a vacation trip to Central America, a master at some university in South East Asia, work and founding a family who-knows-where…

My own parents have been through this, and I guess that even after 12 years they still sometimes wonder about exactly what I’m doing here. (I do, too.)

But: Even as we are far away from home and maybe get a bit lost (few emails and no calls), be assured that the parents are always in our hearts, no matter where we are. And that we’re gonna be just fine, warm socks and all! ;)

My youngest got an apartment, graduated with Masters,accepted job as Physicians Assistant,and married all in last three months of 2012. You will survive. Norm

I have three sons living 20 kms, 300 kms and 12,000 kms away from home. Thank goodness for Facebook, Facetime and Skype!


Thank you. Great story. Your son ended up exactly where he was supposed to. As a dad I would do exactly as you did.

I have a long term photo project of taking pictures of the young women seeing their babies for what might be the last time for years to come, possibly forever, and the adoptive parents greeting their child. Both sides appreciate the photos, so everyone is happy, so to speak.

Wonderfully expressive picture, Mike. It says it all, as much about the delicate emotions of the scene as a Midwestern winter. Bravo!

The other side of this is my situation. My son just turned 32 this weekend ...and he is still at home.

In his defence, he does have some issues over which he has no controll and were not of his making. Regardless, it would be nice to not have to cater to him any longer.

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