Ow, my heart.

So yesterday we dropped Hailey off at college and I’m really lucky that Texas State is only an hour or two away but it was still hard as hell because it feels like the end of an era. It was hot as fuck outside and I was trying not to show how panicked I was, but the college assigned these individually named rolling carts to each student to help get everything upstairs and when I looked at the name of ours it seemed like a sign that we were going to be okay:

We got everything unloaded and helped Hailey unpack their dorm room. They collect stuffed animals like I collect books but I told them that they should really limit themselves and only bring a couple with them because you don’t really need stuffed animals. And surprisingly they agreed. And when we finished decorating the room they pulled out an unnaturally dense, vaccum-packed, duct-taped sack from which exploded a 6 foot giant fluffy goose.

Hailey: “This is my son. His name is Steve.”

“Honk honk, motherfucker.”

PS. I did not cry (much) in front of Hailey because I want this to be a fantastic adventure for them but on the way home that “Who’s gonna drive you home?” song came on and I fucking lost it And then right after that was the Eels song that starts with “It’s a motherfucker being here without you” and I was like, “THE RADIO IS TRYING TO KILL ME” but turns out it was a playlist Victor made of terrible songs because he thought I’d need to cry or maybe he just wanted to see me throw myself from a moving car. And he was like, “We haven’t even gotten to PJ Harvey’s ‘Come back here and bring me my daughter‘ song yet” and then he forwarded through a dozen terrible songs on the worst playlist that has ever existed as I stared at him in utter amazement. And then I started laughing at the ridiculousness and couldn’t stop until I got hiccups.

So I guess we’re gonna be alright.

But still…ow. Take care of my baby, Steve.

PS. Shout out to all my ladies who also scream-sang this song (that Victor -of course- included) in our young adult years and who now find ourselves on the other side. We made it through. So will they. You remind me and I’ll remind you.

96 thoughts on “Ow, my heart.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Been there, ugly cried through 3 towns on the way home. It’s so hard to know from now on, they’ll only visit and not live at home in the future. The end of a precious era. But more good times are to come!

  2. That’s a pretty nice dorm room! (I attended Univ. of Michigan from 2005-09, living in the dorms from 2005-07, and this size of the dorm room would’ve been for two people there …)

    like. how long did he spend on it. I just. WOW.

    I love making playlists and this is so specifically evil and hilarious.

    I’m impressed, Victor.

    My kid is only 2 and I’m crying along with you some how.

  4. My stepdaughter (14 at the time) actually started singing Cat’s Cradle as I was walking away from dropping my oldest at college for the first time. Children can be cruel.

  5. Best of lucky to Hailey, and to their son Steve! They are going to have a great time (except for the times that might suck, because some of college is bound to suck, but hopefully in retrospect someday they will think fondly of those times as well).

    Our kid was packing up boxes for their own college move last night, while listening to the Indigo Girls, which took me right back to my own college move-in day in 1997 and omg the FEELINGS all around. Hang in there, parents. We’ll all get through this with emotional playlists and ugly-laugh-crying.

  6. All. Of. This. We drop mine off in a week – on the other coast. 🙁 Gonna be a gelatinous mess. A shout out to Victor – I think I’ll do this for my partner though we’ll need more material as the drive is 3000 miles.

  7. There definitely weren’t rolling carts when I went to college, we hefted that stuff up multiple flights of stairs while our parents kept exclaiming back in their day they had to walk a mile up hill both ways just to even get onto the college campus. Oh and now that I think of it, I vaguely remember parietal hours. . I hope Hailey has the bestest college experience ever.

  8. Could you please share the playlist? I’m dying to know what else he put on there!

  9. I dropped my oldest off at school for the first time last year, and the dorms are only 20 minutes from our house, and they still come home every weekend, but it still gutted me that first weekend when I left them there. It does get better, and it is amazing to see these amazing humans that we’ve managed to get through infancy, childhood, and the ridiculous teenage years take those first few steps into adulthood. We’ll all get through this together!

  10. Shout out to Hailey from one stuffed animal collector to another! Honk honk, Steve! 😀

  11. I was the same the day I dropped my 16 year old son at army college here in the UK. It was made harder as it was limited contact in the first 6 weeks to get them used to being away.
    He went there a quiet unconfident boy and when he had his passing in parade 10 weeks in he had found himself, confidence in heaps, friends who we now class as family for life and had become a grown man.
    It hurts our hearts like hell to see them progress to these fabulous places they’ve always wanted to go to but they also fill our hearts with pride at their growth.
    Still my partner would of got a kick and then a hug from me if they’d of done that to me at the time.

  12. Torture Playlist? No!!! But we’ve all scream sung Mother Mother so there’s that.

  13. It’s much worse when your only heads to Army boot camp. I still remember and ugly cry!

  14. Whatever you do, stay away from Suzy Bogguss song “Letting Go” or Rascal Flatts “My Wish”…You only had a two hour drive, I left my only child 774 miles away in BFW KANSAS of all places!! That was a long drive home to Houston.

  15. It’s going to be okay, Hailey has a son to keep them company and give them hugs or to cry into when necessary.
    You’ll be okay too, because you have awesome Victor who knew you needed to have a good cry on the way home.
    Before you know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving and they’ll be home to do mountains of laundry, eat their favorite comfort home food, and tell you all about their college experience.
    Sending virtual hugs to all!

  16. My mother (allegedly) cried after dropping me off the first time. “We were so worried!” she said. “You spent so much time in your room!”

    Me: “I was plotting my escape!”

  17. I remember my parental units taking me to UC Santa Barbara. When they left campus I think they left skid marks as they peeled away as fast as possible from San Nicholas dorm. They never did return, not even for my graduation. I believe my bedroom at home was cleared out for a new office within hours. Thank goodness for loving parents!

  18. I love the playlist idea! I will need that in a month when I drop my son off for his first year. Only 90 minutes away, too, but feels like 9000 miles.

    Here’s to all the freshman parents and families crying their eyes out to “I Will Always Love You” over the next few weeks.

  19. You’re all so blessed to have children to cry for and they in turn, to have such loving parents. When I went to college my Mom was dead and Dad couldn’t wait for me to be gone. (To be fair he regretted that and didn’t want me to leave for second semester.)

  20. Ugh! I feel your pain. When my son moved to GA from NJ I exploded sobs for what felt like an hour. I promised I wouldn’t but failed miserably! His gf at the time asked “why are you crying, you should be proud!?” I said I AM PROUD, I’M JUST GOING TO MISS HIM!! She looked at my son and said oh… my mom didn’t cry when I left for college. I thought HA! Then I felt sad for her.

  21. I cackled when I saw name Beyoncé and we all secretly know took a sharpie and filled that out yourself. 😂😂😂😂

  22. I love how Hailey decorated their room. Those Ikea bags are the best! It hurts like hell letting them go. One of mine is moving on Sunday and I can’t even think about it without tearing up and this is his second year and he’s just a half hour away in town!

  23. Do they have a single room???? How lucky if that’s true.
    I completely lost it when driving my oldest three hours away to college and “Landslide” came on.

    …Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
    ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
    But time makes you bolder
    Even children get older
    And I’m getting older too…

    (They do! I was shocked they were able to snag one but apparently there were quite a few available. It’s smaller than a double but honestly not by much. ~ Jenny)

  24. Jenny, it’s been 28 years since I dropped my daughter off at college…still remember it like it was yesterday. I promise you that everything will be okay. ♥️

  25. I JUST went through this myself last Friday with my son. (Houston to Fayetteville). Words can’t describe all the feelings. I am right there with you. “Everything’s fine” I keep telling myself.

  26. Congratulations and condolences! I’m sure Steve will do a good job. I love that they had speedpack boxes for the move in, and that they had name tags to keep the inevitable confusion to a minimum! And what a perfect name.

  27. 100% understand this. We dropped our middle off yesterday at TXST, as well. All of us cried like babies last night after our last family supper for a while, and then again after we dropped by on our way out of town this morning. It is so hard to leave them, and our daughter is 3.5 hours from home….it’s so far! I know they will be ok, and we will, too…but it is still hard. Hugs to you!

  28. All the feels. Hang in there, Mama. But I need to know… did you roll up to the door with that cart and yell KNOCK, KNOCK, MOTHERFUCKER!!”?? Steve will carry on Beyoncé’s legacy!

  29. I am exactly one year away from this. Senior year of HS starts for my kiddo in three weeks. I’m already dreading all the “lasts” of this year and the heartbreak of drop-off next year at this time (assuming the kid gets her sh*t together and submits some kick@ss applications and gets accepted somewhere we can afford???) Ugh, my heart!

  30. I hope they have a fantastic year!!

    We have move in at UT Austin on Saturday and I’ve been fighting being a mess all week! I’m gonna make it!

  31. My baby is 33 and I did not cry. He was a couple states away but I could remember him saying he was never leaving home! He was only six but I told him not to limit his horizons! I was thrilled for his independence.

  32. My husband likes to play Kenny Chesney’ Don’t Blink, There Goes my World, and Trace Adkins You’re gonna Miss This in a row until I’m blithering. He’s such an asshole.

    My momma had a hard time when I went to college, had her first actual panic attack. I cried like a baby at my baby’s kindergarten and elementary school graduations. Haven’t gotten to the high school one yet.

    Good luck Hailey!!

  33. Major flashbacks to the day at 1997 when we dropped my daughter off at Baylor Waco… A huge culture shock from San Diego to be sure. I had threatened her that I was so attached that I was going to apply for the job of house mother! I must confess that I did bribe the staff to check in with me !!

  34. You’ve got this! Hailey and Steve will be fine, and so will you (& Victor). As someone who survived this many years ago, it isn’t easy, but they will grow so much and will become amazing adults and friends. Life changes, love survives! Sending you extra spoons this month! 🥄 PS – Beyonce was definitely a sign!

  35. Victor, good job. Jenny, you’ll get through it. It’s hard, not gonna lie. But it’s a good thing.

  36. If there was ever any doubt that Hailey is 100% your child, Steve the Goose totally clinches it! Congrats!!! I’ve got to drop my youngest off next week and it’s only 10 minutes from home but STILL. I shall be a mess with you🥹

  37. I’m anticipating dropping my youngest off next week and my oldest off the week after. SOOOO many emotions. Hang in there!

    And BTW, the name of that rolling cart?!? DEFINITELY a sign!

  38. Mine is through college and grad school, living on his own. I still tear up when we go back to our lives. It’s in the job description, mama. You’re doing great!

  39. OMG, I cried like a baby every single time for the first year and a half until I finally told her to stop dropping me off and I drove myself. I lived at home for awhile and then went back on campus because I kind of liked campus life. There were weirdos, like me.

  40. Can’t listen to that Tracy Bingham song without screaming EVERYTHING’S FINE!!!

  41. I cried all the way home when we dropped ours off. Really had the feeling they’d never need us again. Then 2 days after drop off they called for something they needed help with and thus began the education of all the things we didn’t teach our kid before they left. Hugs you will get through this and then be amazed as your kid comes into their own.

  42. I never thought my steps kids would never leave. Got them at 2 & 4. One came back for a year and then went to a different college to get a better degree. Both doing wonderful. I paid for the college education. Then I divorced their dad (misc issues). I know I made their lives better.

  43. Haven’t really stopped crying (though not in front of them anymore). I know it’s the goal, our babies being adult, going off into the world, but is it really? I should have had a big house where everyone could just keep living with me and their dad.

    I’m lucky, my kids are both still in town. I just miss all the wonderful energy they bring to a room. So I probably visit them more than they want.

  44. I feel like Victor and I would get along well – I made a few of those mix tapes in my late teens and early 20s. Hailey seems all set – I hope they love it! Good luck with your adjustment! You’ll be OK…

  45. Way to go, Victor! Good way to bring out the tears and laughs. When we dropped our daughter off at college my husband, younger daughter, and I all wailed at various times and octaves during the two-hour drive home. When we got back, none of us could leave the car that my husband nearly ran into our garage door through tears. We didn’t know how to enter without her, but we did and survived. Now she’s a senior nursing major and her little sister is starting college on Monday; she is commuting though, so I will still have half my nest. Hailey will thrive, and when she gets homesick Steve can step in. Or you can become her roommate 🙂 Sending hugs and warm thoughts. It gets easier.

  46. Whoa, this hits home. I cried for the first 100 of the 1100 mile trip back home, until a thunderstorm sprang up and I feared I’d die if I added any more liquid to the situation.
    (Tell me, was “The Highway Don’t Care” on Victor’s playlist? If not, whatever you do, DON’T LISTEN TO IT)

  47. I was fine til I got to the cart named “Beyonce,” and then I was another of Hailey’s virtual aunties around the globe happy/sad crying for you. I worked with college freshmen for many years and served as the Parent/Family Liaison for all incoming science majors at a large TX state university. It gets easier, I promise. When parents would complain that their kids were being complete assholes the summer after senior year I’d share what a friend told me: God makes them that way so when they leave for college it won’t absolutely break your heart. You’ll see Hailey grow and change in so many wonderful ways, and soon it will be like having another adult in the house when they’re home. Big virtual hug to all the mamas sending them off this fall!

  48. Does Hailey have their own dorm room? Best of luck to you and Steve, especially on those late night study sessions.

  49. Hang in there. Is that a single room? I started in a freshman triple way back when. I hope they have an awesome year!

    (Yep! But their sweetheart is in the same dorm so Hailey is definitely not lonely. 🙂 ~Jenny)

  50. After driving four hours to Provo to drop my brother off at the Mormon MTC for his mission (we all cried)… my mom was supposed to drive home. EXCEPT! The radio played “You’ll Be In My Heart” by Phil Collins and THEN that Helen Reddy song with the little boy (? No idea of the name, it has scarred me for life)… so I had to drive home again with a sobbing mom in the passenger seat. Fun, fun times.
    Also, Victor is twisted. I’m glad you like it. I would have made him walk home. 🙂


    I love the signs from the universe. I love this new adventure for Hailey. I have only been on the child-leaving end of it but I know it’s hard and that’s actually the perfect distance away from home (my college was 90 minutes from my hometown) – close enough to visit however often, but far enough to feel like you are learning some independence too. They will be just fine and they are going to grow and thrive and you’re going to be even more proud and it’s all going to be wonderful other than the fact that change is super hard.

    Also, Victor is both brilliant and evil. I think that’s how you get supervillains, I dunno.

  52. A lovely room!!
    I get FOMO about never getting to attend a full-time school, or even living alone, but then again, I probably wouldn’t even have appreciated it as much as I do in my head anyway!

    (I never did either! Lived at home during college and then moved in with Victor. ~ Jenny)

  53. I’ve only been the kid leaving home, but I don’t doubt my mom cried on the way home, and my dad probably got emotional as well. It was rough at first, as I was a very sheltered kid, but it all worked out in the end, as these things generally do. (Can I call Victor a bastard for that evil-but-clever soundtrack? Yep, you’re well matched!)

    As for Steve the Goose: So I went on the Amazon link and scrolled through the various photos, and when I got to the one of the young lady basically riding Steve’s brother’s back…well, I don’t know how much Yeats you’ve read over the years, but I was an English major (w/an advisor whose speciality was Irish literature and was a member of Sinn Fein to boot, yes, *really*), and all of a sudden I started getting this serious “Leda and the Swan” vibe from that one photo. *shudder* (Not with Hailey and Steve, though–I’m sure their relationship is strictly platonic!) Really, Amazon, you had *one job*…

  54. If it makes you feel any better, my mother-in-law was an underwater mermaid at Aquarena Springs back in the day when she was a student there. I kid you not. With no 6-foot goose to rescue her! ❤️

  55. Can you share the playlist? Because I know some people who need it in the next week or so. ❤️

  56. Now my kids are sending their babies off. I just shared your posts. Then they asked me if I ever cried. It made me cry again. Damn!

  57. As with every milestone in your life this was both funny and a little heartbreaking at the same time. She will do great because you and Victor are great as parents. Also kudos to Victor for the playlist lol. My husband does similar things to make me laugh when I’m sad.

  58. Victor was NOT helpful!! 🤣🤣🤣 enjoy all the naked time you and victor can now potentially enjoy!

  59. OMG-a playlist! Brutal! We leave today to drop my son off in Dallas and I’m not ok either. My oldest just graduated from TXST and loved it. Steve is amazing and so is Hailey! This is what we have been working for- we did it! Now pass the Kleenex 😭

  60. Is that playlist in a publicly-accessible place?! I hope so! Please add the link, if so.

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  62. My mom was SO positive and upbeat when she dropped me off at university – nothing but smiles and excitement. I found out later that after we said our goodbyes, she drove off campus, found a parking lot and *sobbed* her heart out in the car – I was the eldest, her only girl – and her heart was breaking. I also found out much later, that for the first 6-8 months, my brothers would find her on the kitchen floor, scrubbing the floor with a scrub brush. Every time she would get upset about missing me, she would scrub the floor – our floors were *sparkling* clean!

  63. My kid goes next year, 2.5 hours away. I’m excited for her but also I am not ready and seeing other people go though this ahead of me helps, so thank you. It’s gonna be ok.

  64. Play lists are important. Mine for moving from Denver to Seattle started with Cheryl Crow’s Leavi g Las Vegas.

  65. My crying song for that was Wide Open Spaces (The Chicks). Oh mah heart! It will get better mama.

  66. My daughter is there too!!!
    And the nail salon music playlist tried to kill me yesterday!!!
    Pretty funny playlist your hubby made!!!
    Some epic songs in there 😂
    I’m missing my girl in Houston
    I don’t like it one bit!

  67. Here’s the thing I learned from this exact experience. I feel in love with my husband all over again. I remember how we were before the children. I remember who we were before the house and the job and the kids. It’s awesome. I know you miss Haley, but give it a chance.

  68. How did I forget that song? Mine are already out, but I still silently screamed back at the screen. Wow, thanks MTV or whatever, because, almost every word jumped in my mouth.

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