The First Big Good-Bye: When Your Oldest Goes to College #Blogust

Posted August 13, 2014 by jimhigley


This post is my contribution to Blogust ’14—Shot@Life’s month-long campaign to provide vaccinations for children in need around the world. I’m writing on the theme of “Happy and Healthy Firsts.”

Here’s the cool part: YOU can help change the life of a child by making sure they get vaccinated. All you need to do is either “comment” (with anything!) at the end of this post. Also you can “Tweet” this, “Like” or share on social media.  (Details at the end of the post.) Thank you for supporting this important effort! — Jim

* * * * *

I was dreading it for months. Months. The idea of saying good-bye to my oldest child as I shipped him off to college was a milestone I didn’t look forward to.

The concept of not having – after 18 years parenting – all of my offspring under one roof was just downright weird. Uncomfortable. And a bit unsettling.

I’m an emotional guy. To know me is to know that. I get teary-eyed over something nearly every day. Someone’s Facebook post. An inspirational quote. There’s a new cereal commercial that gets me every time I see it.  That’s who I am. And I’ve gotten quite comfortable being that way.

But I felt that I owed it to my soon-to-be-in-college son to reel in my emotions as he transitioned to college. After all, it wasn’t about me, right? This was his shining moment. And while he was fully aware of my months of angst, I made a commitment to myself to get prepared for the inevitable moment I knew I needed to say good-bye. And let him go.

So in the weeks preceding his departure, I’d work on visualizing what life would be like without him. I’d imagine a home with two – not three kids. I’d picture his room, empty and clean. (The “clean” part being a bonus!). I’d imagine phone calls. Parents’ weekend. And more than anything, I’d imagine me not being a bubbling mess.

My strategy worked. Kind of. At least I got off to a great start.

The week before I drove my son to college was nothing short of joy. We spent a lot of time organizing the piles and piles of college-like stuff I had been collecting for him throughout the summer. I had read up on every tip, list and post on how to make a college dorm feel like home. And I missed not a beat. Including tucking in a newly framed photo of the family for him to take with him lest he forget what we all looked like.

It was a good week. And it was a good lead in to something I had feared.

Even the five hour drive to campus was fun.

I kept waiting for the bump in the road – but I was experiencing a newfound level of control. Not even the unpacking of his clothes in his new dorm room gave me a flicker of failing emotions.

All systems go. This dad was calm and cool.

As many parents know, there’s an awkward moment when taking your child to college where you realize there is nothing more to do. The car is unpacked. The room is set up. The bank account is funded. And you are out of place. With a child waiting to jump.

Jump into college.

New experiences.

New friends.

The world they have been dreaming of.

And you need to leave. You – the person who has taken care of every detail for this child for the last 18 or so years – you’re not invited to the next chapter. At least in the way you’re accustomed. Your common sense tells you this is good. And important.

And your heart feels as though it’s being ripped right through your skin.

When that moment came for me – the first time – there was no holding my emotions back. And all I really remember was holding my son, feeling the tears from my eyes drop onto his back. Sad. Not for him. But for me. Because I realized that a very big chapter of my life was over.

In a proverbial blink.

That experience changed the way I look at my every day with child two. And three.

A good reminder, I often think, that even through all the mud and crud that comes with parenting – we only get these children for a very, very short time.


This story is part of my commitment to #Blogust and Shot@Life. It’s my contribution to helping kids around the world get vaccinated. The truth is, while my own personal story about saying “good bye” tugs at my own heart, there are far too many parents who say the ultimate “good bye” to their children because they weren’t able to receive adequate medical care.

But you can change that. Simply by commenting at the bottom of  this post.

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and theUnited Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000).  Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world. 

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Emma

    I’m glad you blubbed at the end! Otherwise, if you’re normally very emotional, your son might’ve thought you were glad to see the back of him…

  • M2

    Good stuff, dude. Empty nest syndrome may strike at any time … don’t panic. Just breathe.

  • Matt Schneider

    Beautiful post Jim . . . we just hit the half-way point (I have a 9-year old!) and I can already tear up thinking about taking him to college.

    • jimhigley

      the second have zoooooooooms by. Sorry to tell you that….

  • Jeff

    Thanks for the post Jim!

    • jimhigley

      Thank you Jeff!

  • Justin Connors

    It is very neat to read this Jim. I often struggle with the idea of having little ones grow up. I suppose at every new stage you just roll with it and good things will come. Thanks for this.

    • jimhigley

      it’s one chapter after the other. and they go fast!

  • Chris-Rated4AndUp

    Thanks for this Jim. It reminds me that every moment counts. I’m on a road trip to MN today with my son and we will have so much fun. Thank you for the reminder.

    • jimhigley

      take pics! and thanks for your support!

  • Kzoodad

    Great, My oldest is starting school in a few weeks and that is tough to think she won’t be around all day every day. I stay at home and it has been her and eye for a few years now. I can’t imagine when I won’t have them around at night either.

    • jimhigley

      gosh, I remember that feeling too..hard to imagine days without them full time!

  • B.K. Mullen

    Thanks for this man. My little one just turned a year but I’m already thinkin ahead to this kind of thing. She’s growing so fast it seems.

    • jimhigley

      funny how fast they grow…..:-)

  • David Kepley

    I’m on the opposite end of the child raising experience and I’m glad to have the reminder of how short a time we are blessed by having them.

    • jimhigley

      it really is a blessing. for sure!

  • Jussi

    Great story. Thank goodness, I still have at least 15 years left to prepare myself.

    • jimhigley

      enjoy them!

  • Mike Reynolds

    I’m just getting used to preparing my oldest for kindergarten. Being the oldest of my siblings, I remember my parents dropping me off for my first day at university. Thanks for the look-see into what they might have been thinking.

  • Stephen Petry

    Well done, Jim. Now I’M crying!

    • jimhigley

      Here’s a tissue! Thanks

  • Dfiles

    Wonderful as usual Jim. Now I feel bad for letting out a joyous “HELL YEAH, FREEDOM!” before my parents had exited my dorm hallway.

  • Jeff Bogle

    Ah, letting them go. I realized recently that I am closing to experiencing my oldest going away to college than I am her birth — no, that didn’t startle me AT ALL! 😉 Great work, Jim. Thanks for continuing to do good.

    • jimhigley

      That puts it in perspective, doesn’t it. you’ll cherish the years you are living right now. promise.

  • Clark_Kents_Lunchbox

    This has reminded me how close my oldest is to leaving for college. It’s kind of surreal as I think about what leaving home for me was like and then to think of my son in that same place. Good stuff, Jim.

  • VJK

    So interesting as my oldest is preparing for JK!
    Gosh, I wonder what’s more difficult? The first one leaving…or the last?

    • jimhigley

      Well, ask me in a week. My first one (the one I wrote about) was 7 years ago. My baby leaves next thursday. I cannot believe it.

  • jokerofsauce

    great article, jim!

    • jimhigley

      Great name! THansk!

  • Holly

    I remember the tears vividly back to the day I dropped my son off. He graduates college in December and I can’t wait to see where the road ahead takes him. He gets his “first” gold bar, too. (ROTC)

    • jimhigley

      Congrats to him! And you!

  • Johnny T (That’s ME!)

    Great post Jim! I still have a long ways to go before I get to this day. But I also know how quickly the time will fly between then and now and how precious that time really is. Thanks for sharing this with us and taking us for a spin inside your mind at one of those milestone points in life.

    • jimhigley

      Johnny, as always, thanks for the love.

  • Dustin Fisher

    My daughter just turned two and college feels like a LONG way away right now. Which is totally fine. But I’m sure when the day comes, I’ll be thinking about this moment like it was the previous week. It’s funny how time bends to make things in the future seem so far away but things in the past seem so much closer.

    • jimhigley

      “It’s funny how time bends to make things in the future seem so far away but things in the past seem so much closer.” – – — that’s really profound. I stopped to think about it and it is so true. 20 years from now seems like a lifetime. 20 years ago seems like a couple years.

  • Doug Zeigler

    I’m a scant 5 years away from our oldest going away to school (and potentially 3 more kids after that, if they choose to go), but suffice to say I’m already dreading it. Best of luck, Jim.

    • jimhigley

      It kind of makes us feel really old, doesn’t it?

  • Concretin Nik

    I did NOT tear up today dropping off TheBoy on his first day as a FIRST GRADER. Until I read this. Thanks a lot Higley!

  • Robert Duffer

    I feel that way about my youngest going into first grade. I’ll be pleased to crumble by college. It’s a milestone worth celebrating.

    • jimhigley

      First grade is a biggie!!!! contrats!

  • Pat Jacobs

    I’m just starting as a new dad and I’m afraid to blink. Thanks for the words, Jim.

    • jimhigley

      don’t blink. really.

  • Dave Lesser

    I remember that “awkward moment” from the other end…just wanting my parents to get the hell out so I could start experiencing college! I missed them later. And, of course, I know that without 18 years of love and support at home I wouldn’t have been ready. Great post, dude.

    • jimhigley

      I’m sure my kids all feel like “get the hell out….” but they’ll have their day someday….

  • Kevin Cotton Higley

    My room was ALWAYS the clean one!

    • jimhigley

      Was it? I do remember counting the t-shirts in your closet one day. I stopped at 100.

  • DadOnTheRun

    Great story and a wonderful cause, Jim. Thank you for the reminder of the fleeting nature of childhood, think I’ll take my little ones out to the park today. Congrats to your son!

    • jimhigley


  • Tommy Riles

    I remember crying when my parents said their final good-bye on my first day of college. My mom was crying too. With my young ones now being 4 and 2, that day seems so far away…but I know it will arrive much sooner than I think. Great post.

    • jimhigley

      We’re all just a cycle of crying parents…..generation after generation!

  • Chris Bernholdt

    A great reminder that our time with them is fleeting and to enjoy every moment. What a great cause to be a part of. Thanks for sharing!

    • jimhigley

      Thanks for your help Chris!

  • Trey Burley

    Time is so quick. We were just thinking that about how fast the summer passed.

    • jimhigley

      Summer? I know. CaRAAAAAAAzy!

  • Suzanne Baumruk

    Tears flowing at the thought of it. Next weekend we take Jack to California. Happy for him and so proud, but sad for us 🙁

    • jimhigley

      California!? Oh my gosh…. sending tissues to your family!

  • Joel from Daddy’s Grounded

    I’m only about 16.5 years from this experice. The first 1.5 years have flown past and I hear the next several will only fly by faster. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • jimhigley

      For sure. it speeds up. Yuck. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

  • Cheryl Montgomery

    My one and only daughter graduated in 2000 on a Monday. ..on Wednesday of the same week she moved to San Jose California. was such a huge adjustment. .more for me initially. a physical part of my body had been removed. .it also became the circumstances that made me truly understand the role of a parent. nurture the growth of roots and wings. ..The best things we can give our children….what a blessing to be able to watch as they make full use of each.

    • jimhigley

      so true. We want to selfishly keep them forever. But we know the best gift is to let them go live their life!

  • Jessica Ashley

    Well, now. This is lovely and profound and reminds me to hold on to the many quick days until my boy heads off on his own adventures. Thank you for sharing this story. xo

    • jimhigley

      Seeing your name makes me smile. Can’t wait for more good news from you!

  • Andy Calin

    My little girl turns 1 in a few days. It has felt like a year has gone by in a couple weeks. I know it’ll feel like another couple weeks and I’ll be standing in the dorm hallway crying after letting her go.

    • jimhigley

      I still remember my oldest son’s 1st birthday soooooooo vividly. Now you’re making me even more emotional!

  • NYC Dads Group

    Thoughtful and thought-provoking post, Jim. Similar to Tommy Riles, your words sent me into the world of reflection. Remembering those moments when my parents sent me, their youngest, off to college. What must’ve been going on through their minds – tears as they became empty nesters, joy in seeing their son chasing his dreams, or overjoyed (ie. “phew, couldn’t wait to get rid of him” 🙂 ). – Lance

    • jimhigley

      Thanks Lance!

  • Josh

    My daughter is 18 months and I already dread this day.

    • jimhigley

      Thanks Josh!

  • Jeff Tepper

    As the dad of a three year old I can’t even fathom this, but it was great for me to read it. Thanks for being part of this important program with the vaccines.

    • jimhigley

      Thanks for helping another child!

  • Chris G.

    Dang Jim, I’m getting emotional first thing this morning. Wonderful post buddy. I have 12 more years before shipping off the first, but it’s already something I worry and dread about.

    • jimhigley


  • Acorn

    My 1st is in 1st grade this year, I found myself looking through her baby pictures thinking where has the time gone?! I can only imagine how I’ll feel when collage comes!

  • Clarke Anderson

    Keep doing the good Jim. keep doing the good.

    • jimhigley

      you too!

  • Carter

    Thank you, Jim, for all you do!

    • jimhigley

      it’s easy stuff!


    Providing better &quality education &social environment to the child & youth is good & responsible parenting .Proper attention to school & college education for the children is better
    society development & a part of social control mechanism.Definitely emotions , natural parenting feelings with children are the part of natural life expression but providing civilized,& educated life to the child is best social relationship with society by parents.
    Ref- The first big good-bye -when your oldest goes to college #Blogust


      Addressed #Blogust2014 at SocialGoodSummit 2014 @plus_socialgood

      • jimhigley

        Thanks for your help!

  • Diarydad

    This seems so far away for me and yet having a ten year old seemed so far away when my oldest was born… and look how fast that went! Great post Jim!

    • jimhigley

      Thanks for supporting the cause!

  • Allison

    Thank you for sharing! When I began my freshman year of college, I too felt so sad to see my parents leave my dorm room, but it did nothing but strengthen our relationship.

    • jimhigley

      I think kids start to better appreciate mom and dad when they head off to school!

  • Francis Linardo

    I’m a long way from this as my first just started kindergarten, but now I can’t stop thinking about it. Nice job Jim.

    • jimhigley

      Thanks for helping!

  • Lorne

    I don’t want to think about Sienna going to college. I’ve got almost 15 more years before she leaves. Hell, I’m just getting to used to her 😉 Thanks for such a great piece, Jim!

    • jimhigley

      Thank you Lorne!

  • DadandBuried

    I’m just glad college will be obsolete when my son is of age. Unless we live on Elysium.

    • jimhigley

      That’s a good perspective!

  • Elizabeth Wagner

    So hard to imagine, with three littles running around, but I know this will be us in the blink of an eye.

    • jimhigley

      yup. it goes fast. just remind your self to love where you are!

  • Shannon

    My daughter just started her Senior year and I am an emotional mess even thinking about sending her off to college, we have been through so much together … this post hit right on the spot about how I feel and many other parents. Tears Tears Tears I could hardly get through reading it. Thank you for sharing this post and thank you for supporting shot@life

    • jimhigley

      savor this year!

      • Shannon

        Oh I so am! Every single moment! 🙂

  • Nancy Mullen

    Well said – and it truly does not change with the passing of each child out the door. When my children began aging, I swore I wasn’t going to be one of those mothers who stood at the door sobbing over the fact that they were leaving. I felt that I would be doing them a great inservice if I did. I tried to be cheerful, to be supportive and wish them every luck in the world because I hoped it would be encouraging to them. Then after they left, I cried my eyes out. You spend the first eighteen plus years trying to protect and educate them about the big bad world. As adults, we know what is out there – and to send your child “out there” is frightening. It is frightening every day and that is why I would internally and sometimes externally jump for joy every day when they came through the door. They survived another gauntlet, so to speak – driving, dates, bullies, etc. And they came through the door – all body parts intact, another experience under their belt. And in all honesty I still think it every day. Every phone call, every text, every post on Facebook – they are intact, another experience………so when I say “call your Mother”, I mean it!! And when I say “I love you” and “I would give you the universe if I could”, I mean it!!! To every parent out there – try to enjoy every minute you have with your children. It is precious!

    • jimhigley

      it is all so precious. well said.

  • chadmwelch

    Great, now I’m crying.

    • jimhigley

      I’ll give you a hug chad

      • chadmwelch

        When you come to Camp Kesem in STL I better get my hug. 🙂

  • Jay Wisniewski

    I have three children that range from three to six. My oldest is starting first grade in a few days and I can’t even begin to imagine the emotions I am going to feel when he leaves for college. I’m twenty-eight and still in college. I decided after high school to enlist in the Army and spend time gaining life experience, but even that took a heavy toll on my parents emotionally. I’ve got some years to go before I’m there, but I know it’s really just a blink away.

    • jimhigley

      Blink. it really goes fast!

  • JN Polk

    As I prepare to bring number two of three to college, I hope I can keep the emotions in check. Would a party at home later
    that night be obnoxious?!

    • jimhigley

      We’re in this together aren’t we!?

  • Kelly Wallace

    Okay, I tried not to tear up during your post — almost in solidarity with you. If you weren’t going to cry, well I wasn’t either. I was strong until the end. Your teary hug with your son did it. I couldn’t hold back. I have tears thinking of that beautiful moment you and your son shared, of what you are going through now, of the beautiful father you have been and continue to be, and of the reminder, the powerful reminder, that we really only get them for a short time and then they need to fly. Thinking of you, beautiful man, on this day.

    • jimhigley

      Thank you Kelly. I miss you!

  • Mike Tremoulet

    Jim, great piece. Ours is staying closer to home for college (read: living at home), which makes the transition far less crisp – and has its own pros and cons. Congratulations on the milestone.

    • jimhigley

      Thanks for the support!

  • michael from dadcation

    Great post, Jim, and congrats on 1 successful launch!

    • jimhigley

      That was actually 7 years ago! # 2 is out of college. And number 3 leaves for college next week. I’m really old.

  • Kim

    Love this, and your commitment to making the world a better, healthier place!

    • jimhigley

      Thank you very much!

  • alie

    Glad mine are still babies! Sending my daughter to pre-K was hard enough.

    • jimhigley

      so true!

  • chocolatetort

    Really lovely post. From the child end, I remember the thrill and the gasping anxiety of college so clearly. It sounds like you gave him a wonderful, loving send off!

    • jimhigley

      I try! my youngest leaves for college next week. jeeeeeez!

  • Kate

    I’m only at the beginning of this parenting road (daughter is 9 months old) so I can’t really commiserate with the heading off to college thing. I can, however, share your thoughts regarding the need for children to get adequate medical care, and my dismay that so many people spread misinformation about vaccines, resulting in children not receiving care that they really ought to be getting!

    • jimhigley

      appreciate it!

  • Dada Mike

    “We only get these children for a very, very short time.” That’s going on a wall somewhere. Thank you.

    • jimhigley

      it’s really true….

  • Ileana

    I’m freaking out now and it’s only 1st grade!

    • jimhigley


  • Gil

    Great post. At least now we have so many ways to keep in touch, Skype, Facebook, Face time, messaging, etc. When I went away to school all I could do is call home. I’m sure like most things it’ll get easier with time.

    • jimhigley

      it’s so true. Technology helps so much.

  • Kimberly B.

    My son is only two, and sometimes when I start getting irritated, I remind myself that someday he’ll leave for college (hopefully). Then I stop being irritated and scoop the kiddo up for hugs and tickles haha.

    • jimhigley

      honestly, doesn’t that strategy help? It sure makes me slow down….

  • Chris Routly

    First grade begins in a few weeks for my oldest, and I am dreading it almost as much as I am looking forward to it.

    • jimhigley

      it’s a big day for you both!

  • R.C. Liley

    Awesome article, Jim! I enjoyed reminiscing from when I went off to college. Thankfully, it’ll be awhile before sending my daughter off!

    • jimhigley

      Thanks pal!

  • Lauren

    great post!

    • jimhigley

      Thanks you!

  • Danielle

    Love this blog- made me feel very emotional about how time is flying with my little one.

    • jimhigley


  • OneGoodDad

    I had a hard time sending my kids off to pre-k. I don’t even want to think about how I will handle sending them off to college.

    • jimhigley

      ha… many good byes us parents are put through!

  • bethengelman

    Thank you for this!!! My little one is starting a new school next week and although if isn’t college yet I understand the blink I am living in!!!

    • jimhigley

      time flies my friend!

  • Elizabeth J

    My youngest son leaves for college in less than two weeks. Just this morning, I took him for his last visit to the pediatrician (because he’s now 18) to get some of the vaccines he needs for school. If commenting means that other kids will also get their vaccinations, I’m happy to do so.

    • jimhigley

      thank you so much!

  • Cuda Marc Bradley Mitchell

    Awesome! Great share! Now stick it to Jenny even if it’s a vaccicination needle!

    • jimhigley

      I’ll give her the message!

  • Laura

    I’m already trying to brace myself for that day, and she doesn’t start 8th grade for a few more days!

    • jimhigley

      8th grade is sooooo great!

  • joanna schroeder

    Sending you lots of support! I know I’ll need it when my boys go to college… But it’s such an awesome day, too. Hugs!

    • jimhigley

      hugs back!

  • Mary

    Well said, Jim,…….as always! I miss my boys every single day.

    • jimhigley

      yuppers, yuppers. we’re too young to have older kids!

  • Pati Maka

    Dreading it, but I still have at least 13 years to go 😉

    • jimhigley

      lots of time!

  • giftmommy

    Such a great campaign!

    • jimhigley

      i agree!

  • Al Watts

    I recently realized I have only 6 years left with my oldest daughter before she enters college. Suddenly that feels like it is just around the corner and I’m not sure I’ll be ready to let her go.

    • jimhigley

      all the more reason you being home is so awesome. you’ll never regret that….

  • VaccinesRULE

    Heartbreakingly true. My first is turning one in less than a month and I’m already feeling the heart strings being yanked that she’s growing too damn fast!!

    • jimhigley

      sooooo true.

  • Dawn Renae Howell Brown

    Thanks for your story! You are a wonderful dad.

    • jimhigley

      easy to be one. I’ve got wonderful kids.

  • Nicole Marie

    I have a 6 month old, and I’m already dreading this day. I’m sure I’ll long for it when he’s 2 and again when he’s 12, but I know I’ll be a wreck when it happens. I’ve got this page bookmarked until then. 🙂

    • jimhigley

      I don’t think the internet will even exist then!

      • Nicole Marie

        It had better. There’s 6 months worth of emails sitting in an account waiting for him to get married or have his own kid or some such. Way more convenient than the paper letters my mom gave me.

  • Patrick Joseph Quinn

    Great, now you have me dreading that moment and I’m 11 years out. Great read!

    • jimhigley

      oops……let me tell you about all the good stuff in the next 11 years…….

  • Melissa

    Great cause

    • jimhigley

      isn’t it? I’m so happy to be doing this.

  • Designer Daddy

    Sharing this with my parents… Thanks for all you do (and say) Jim!

    • jimhigley

      thanks for the love!

  • Dorkdaddy

    May The Force be with you. Every dad knows this day is coming. We’re all in this together.


    • jimhigley

      yes we are!

  • Chrysula

    “And you need to leave.” Oh boy [stiffles sob]. Thank you Jim.

    • jimhigley

      that’s really how it felt. yuck.

  • C.C. Chapman

    Great post and great cause.

    • jimhigley

      Thanks buddy.

  • Lisa C

    I cant even imagine an empty house after having if filled with kids for so long. The slienece will either be very welcome or will drive you batty.

    • jimhigley

      I’ve got a plan….hehehehehe

  • Abigail

    Oh man, my son is only 17 months old and this got my stomach all in knots. It’ll be here way too fast.

    • jimhigley

      I don’t even REMEMBER 17 months!

  • Daniel De Guia

    My oldest is just starting high school next Wednesday, and the realization that in four short years she might be headed of to college makes me kind of freak out. Thanks for writing this, to remind me to make the most of the years I have left with her under my roof.

    • jimhigley

      hate to tell you, but high school is super fast. Hold on Dan….college will be here before you know it!

  • Nanette Buresh

    Hi Jim. Well put. I have six children and believe me, I believe when you are involved in your children’s life it is never easy when they go to college. When my oldest went to college I cried a lot and couldn’t wait till I got to see him again. People thought I was nuts because I still had five active children at home but I would tell them, each and everyone of them bring something unique to our table and I missed that. I was proud and happy for them and realized that we had hopefully set a good foundation and it was time for them to spread their wings and build on that foundation. That was very hard for us to for the first time to feel like we had no control but prayed a lot that they would make the right decisions and grow to be fine adults. I will tell you that five of our six children have all graduated from college and are using their degrees and our youngest one has one more year at Eckerd College. It didn’t matter if it was the first, seconded, third, fourth, fifth or our last child, I cried every time they left for college each year but knew in my heart it was their time to grow, explore and make something of themselves. I am sure you have set a good foundation and he will be just fine but Jim, it’s O.K. to cry and miss them. That’s what good parents do. Just remember GOD has a plan for all of us and he is with you and your son !! I hope you have a “Great And Getting Better Day !!!!

    • jimhigley

      Such wonderful thoughts! You’re kids are lucky to have you guys!

  • Lauren

    It’s hard for the kids too! Great article and it’s great what walgreens is doing. It’s always nice to see good in people and in the world.

    • jimhigley

      It’s all pretty neat isn’t it?

  • Tiffany Merritt

    AHHHHH!!!!!! My oldest is headed to Kindergarten in 5 days. And I’m a total wreck about it (though I have pined for this moment, too!). I can’t even begin to handle the thought of sending her to college. The days are long but the years are short, just like everyone warns us they will be!

    • jimhigley

      take it one step at a time! You’ll make it….just be sure to enjoy every day!

  • Victor Aragon

    My little girl is going to start kindergarten this year so thinking about her going away to college is not even on my mind yet. I know this day will come and I thank you for sharing your experience with us.

    • jimhigley

      millions of memories between now and then!

  • kareyr123

    I can say the feelings get less painful as time goes on — both of my kids have graduated college and have been in the “real world” for a while — but the new normal takes a long time to get used to.

    • jimhigley

      couldn’t agree more!

  • mtavel

    I know my mom felt the same with each of her four daughters as we left for college, and then again as we left for the “real world.” Thanks for sharing!

    • jimhigley

      the transitions of parenting are really tough!

  • Eleanor Kittelson

    Wonderful Jim!! Your children are SO fortunate you are their father. Congrats!

    • jimhigley

      I’m the lucky one. truly.

  • Andrea Riley


    • jimhigley

      Comment of thanks!

  • Meredith

    amazing post, Jim!!! I have 2 years to prepare and it’s just not enough. xo

    • jimhigley

      xo back!

  • Caleb Gardner

    My son is 5. And I already think about this almost every day.

    • jimhigley

      I can’t believe he’s already 5!

      • Caleb Gardner

        You and me both.

  • Kristin Garnos Lawson

    For me, it’s two down, one to go…I survived 😉

    • jimhigley

      we do, don’t we. that’s the cool part!

  • GTLex

    Leaving my sons at college required more toughness than I thought I had. They both chose colleges vast distances from home, but, more than that, it was the void left at home that was the challenge.

    • jimhigley

      oh the void…..ugh.

  • Lorraine Sanabria Robertson

    I have two middle schoolers and know that college is coming – quickly! Gasp! Thanks for sharing and for the reminder to enjoy the moments while they’re still home. 🙂

    • jimhigley

      Lucky kids you’ve got!

  • Jennifer

    You captured my feelings exactly. I send my only child off to college two days from now. Thank-you for letting me know that I am not alone in the tears over him being gone (and the cereal commercial). 😉 I hope this comment saves a life.

    • jimhigley

      You are sooooooooooooooooo not alone.

  • KJ

    want to add to the vaccinations! Also, I will share your post with a friend who was already emotional because she only has 2 more years before going through this!

    • jimhigley

      Thank you so much!

  • thirdeyemom

    What a beautiful, touching post. Thank you so much for sharing. Although my children are only 7 and 9 I know a day will come when I do the same thing and I will cry my heart out. Beautiful.

    • jimhigley

      Enjoy every today between now and then!

  • Brandy

    Well done Jim!

    • jimhigley


  • Whit

    This is great, Jim—on many levels.

    • jimhigley

      A compliment from you is like a really good back massage. Thanks.

  • Kaitlin Arntz

    Nice article!

    • jimhigley

      Thanks. I loved writing it.

  • ihopeiwinatoaster

    You are so good at being sad, Jim. We all, as parents are very good at keeping track and acknowledging firsts but those lasts come so quietly. I can’t imagine how sad that last car ride must have been. Thanks, as always for sharing your beautiful life with us.

    • jimhigley

      Thank you….I’m actually getting ready to send my YOUNGEST to college next week. Wait for part three of this story!

  • E’s mom

    Having only 1 child I’m dreading my son leaving for college in a few short years. I’m not sure what I’ll do with myself or who I’ll be if I’m not his mom taking care of him every day.

    • jimhigley

      enjoy every moment in the meantime!

  • Heidi

    As the oldest child in my family and the first daughter to go away to college, I was so excited to go and remember this moment all too well. I was wide-eyed to enter the great beyond knowing I would the comfort of my own home, and yet in the moment felt I couldn’t cry because that would mean I would be mourning the person I was and in someways acknowledge the fact that I was growing up and could no longer look back, because there was no going back. I knew letting me take that next step on my own was something my parents needed to let me do – as a reassurance that I can “survive” on my own and that I truly wasn’t “going away” from them. In fact – I would always need them in my life, and in many ways more than ever before. Now, having graduated and not having any kids of my own yet, I hope I will remember that feeling I had to say goodbye to them for that bittersweet moment when I send my kids off to their first day of school one day…

    • jimhigley

      something tells me you’ll remember…..

  • Nicole Morgan

    The proverbial blink. sigh. So not ready. Great post!

    • jimhigley


  • GG

    Thank you for sharing. I don’t think a parent can ever really be ready. They will always be our babies.

    • jimhigley

      Amen to that!

  • Walterdh

    Just shows what a good Dad you’ve been!

    • jimhigley

      My good kids make that part easy.

  • kathy murillo

    Aw, great post!!

    • jimhigley

      Aw, thank! 🙂

  • Liz Ditz

    Thanks for sharing this, Jim. I remember taking my daughter to college (all the way across the country!) in 2007. Yes it was bittersweet. The flight home was long and lonely.

    • jimhigley

      But it gets better, right?

  • Bob

    Great post

    • jimhigley

      Easy to write about people you love!

  • Renée

    I teared up reading this. Lucky for me my oldest chose to go to college
    near us and commute. Thank you for sharing and thank you for helping

    • jimhigley

      Thank you!

  • Sheridan

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • jimhigley

      Thanks for helping a child get immunized!

  • Tanis Miller

    I’m getting ready to blink and send my child off to college. I’m not ready. Thank you for doing this and thank you to Shot@Life for continuing to help vaccinate children around the world.

    • jimhigley

      lean on me if you need emotional help!

  • dtb

    You inspire us all to be happy and healthy, Jim Higley! And now that you have so much extra space in your empty nest from your youngest one making the move, you can expect LOTS of company from your bevy of admirers, near and far 🙂

    • jimhigley

      I need a job with the Chicago Visitors’ Bureau!

  • Susan Schaller

    That very big chapter of my life is over too. When our children come home now, I try to take time to just be with them and enjoy their beautiful presence in my life. Time does fly.

    • jimhigley

      You and I are so very much the same Susan!

  • HowTimeFlies

    We worked it so my parents left right before I had to take one of the placement tests. That way, I had to walk away and so did they. They obviously couldn’t come into the test with me. It’s crazy to look back on it though and think, I was 17 years old and my parents just dropped me off in a strange city with no one around that I knew. And yet, I somehow made it because of those 17 years before that moment. I hope I do as great a job preparing my kids as my parents did.

    • jimhigley

      You have a good example, for sure!

  • Josh

    It all goes too quickly, the kids are only with us for such a brief time.

    • jimhigley

      Well said!

  • shuggilippo

    I must be just as emotional a guy as you are because here I am, on the couch in my home, reading this beautiful story, with a vibrant six year old sitting beside me, my oldest, my only, and bubbling like a broken valve at the waterworks. Thank you for your commitment to all three of your wonderful children & all of the children you’re helping because of this post.

    • jimhigley

      Any kid of yours is a lucky, lucky kid. 🙂

      • shuggilippo

        And cue the second round of the waterworks. Take it easy, Higley! We’re in a drought! 😉

  • parenthacks

    Jim, I just love everything about how you share these moments of your life. Thank you. And please tell me you’ve seen the movie Boyhood. (Off topic, but if you see/have seen it, you know why the question is relevant.)

    • jimhigley

      It’s on my list to see. I know I’m going to be a mess when I see it! Love being on this team with you!

  • Karen Walrond

    Oh man… I’m dreading the same thing, and my daughter doesn’t leave for another 8 years! Great post. 🙂


    • jimhigley

      Karen I miss seeing you! Thanks for the comment!

  • Oren

    Ha, I’m sure it feels very different when you put an adult-ish kid in a college, but I’ve been feeling a little less control since my boy’s first day of preschool. Now, about to enter first grade, I hear him say weird things, like a joke that make no sense unless you’re in the group of friends who made up that joke, and I believe that through the years, he will get further away from me every day, while getting more of his personality from his peers. That was the case with me.

    And the only thing that might be left for me in the end: being a dad who’s always there to listen and help–I believe that part will always be there, even when the kid is in college.

    • jimhigley

      Amazing thing this parenting, Oren. I can tell you first hand that so many tiny things I planted when they were little….actually grew into beautiful points of reference for them. Kids are rather amazing like that. 🙂

  • mom2banana

    My oldest just started kindergarten, I can’t think of her going to college. College is something that adults and old teenagers do, not my precious baby girl! Ugh!!! I want her to never leave! :-(. Thanks for the sneak peak into my future!

    • jimhigley

      She’s a lucky girl!

  • Danielle Phillips

    I’m not even a parent and I was trying not to tear up too. Now I understand how my mom must have felt when I left for college and then again when she moved me in to my first apartment in the “real world”.

    • jimhigley

      parent love is a crazy thing!

  • Lorraine C. Ladish

    Oh, it’s a bittersweet experience for sure. My eldest is 13 so I still have a few more years. What a beautiful post!

    • jimhigley

      enjoy them!

  • Seth Burleigh

    Nice work Jim! Pretty sure there I’ll shed be some big crocodile dad tears in 18 years. Unless she goes to Stanford, then it will just be anger. 🙂

    • jimhigley

      Oh, I’m so praying for Stanford now…

      • Seth Burleigh

        Don’t make me delete the comment. Damn trees.

  • The Purposeful Pappy

    My three year old just went on a short vacation with his Grandparents and I was a mess! I don’t even want to think about him leaving home for the first time!

    • jimhigley

      Don’t think. Just enjoy the moment!

  • Gerry Bruno

    Wow Jim. As a new dad of twins I’m already envisioning moments like these and tears begin to make an appearance. This is a great reminder for me and for other parents to always be in the now. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • jimhigley

      Hold on to your hat!

  • Larry Interrante

    I am going to be a mess when my son leaves for college. He is almost three and I am going to cry when he goes to kindergarten. Thank you for writing such a good blog and also doing this for a great cause.

    • jimhigley

      We’re part of the dads-who-cry club!

      • Larry Interrante

        You are correct Jim. We can start a new dads group. Can you pass the box of tissues now? I will pass them back in a minute.

      • Larry Interrante

        We should create a New Dads Group. Now please pass the box of tissues and I will pass them back in a minute

  • Chris Seidenglanz

    My youngest is a Senior in high school this year…. I’m not looking forward to him leaving next year… this made me a little teary…

    • jimhigley

      Sr. Year Zoooooooooooooooms!

  • Rachel – A Southern Fairytale

    So sweet. We are only entering 5th and 2nd grades, but I know this will be here for us.. in a blink! Wonderful post!

    • jimhigley

      It flies!

  • Jill

    We are one year away, and I had a preview this summer, with both boys away for a month. The house was too quiet. Our lives seemed so boring! I know everything you say is true, and I know it will still be very hard! Thanks for this great post.

    • jimhigley

      Thanks for reading!

  • MamaDuck

    Have you seen the movie Boyhood? It was filmed over 12 years, featuring a kid growing up from age 6 to 18 and finally going off to college. Fantastic. Must see!

    • jimhigley

      On my list!

  • Andy Herald


    • jimhigley

      It matters not! You’re a fabulous commenter!

  • Linda B

    Thanks for sharing … and for supporting the Shot@Life campaign through Blogust 2014

    • jimhigley


  • Nick Downey

    My kids have a few years before heading out the door for college, but I know the time will fly by. Here’s hoping I can handle their departure as well as you have!

    • jimhigley

      Thanks Nick!

  • Wa Iba

    Good post. At least I will have anothe 10 years or so to be with my both kids

    • jimhigley

      It’ll be a great decade of memories!

  • Jay – Dude of the House

    We’re still a year away from our oldest going to Kindergarten, but I know it won’t be long before college. Thanks for sharing, Jim.

    • jimhigley

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Lisa Potter

    I can not image this day! Thank you, Jim, for always candidly sharing your stories of fatherhood. You have raised an awesome brood! 🙂

    • jimhigley

      Love seeing your name here! Your little guy is sooooooo big!

  • Rene

    Wow – glad this is a long time off for us still! Great post – thanks for sharing!

  • Rosina

    Even though I thought I’d prepared myself for the day when my one and only child left for university in Dublin, it was still really tough. However, 5 years on he’s a very happy astronomer in London and I’m a proud mother working on my PhD!

    • jimhigley

      Time flies way too fast. 🙂

  • Barry Reszel

    Easiest good deed of the day.

    • jimhigley

      Isn’t it? How did our kids get so old Barry?

  • Algablu

    Yes, we only get these children for a very, very short time and we have to learn again how to live by ourselves and it is not so simple. Thank you for sharing for a great cause!

    • jimhigley

      Thanks to you too!

  • Creed Anthony

    The first time I met you Jim, you and your son had decided to take the money you won from the Dad 2.0 cooking contest and use it to take out a family of a cancer survivor (if my memory serves me correctly). I am humbled by compassion, generosity, and stewardship. You, sir, make this world a better place. Thank you.

    • jimhigley

      you’re a good man. it’s so much easier to live a life where you’re just nice to people!

  • EMB

    Great post Jim!
    I have been there twice, and lived through it.
    Good luck to you and your son.

    • jimhigley


  • Zach Rosenberg

    I’ve got 13 more years until I have to worry about this. THANK GOD.

    • jimhigley

      call me in 13 years.

  • Diane in TN

    Best advice I heard: give our children roots and wings!

    Thank goodness college counselors met with us parents & included tissues before we drove home after I dropped our 1st born son at Davidson College years ago.

    Sending him to summer camp was the first time I cried when he was 8.

    Then another mother mentioned we have to cut the umbilical cord!

    • jimhigley

      roots and wings: agree!

  • NurseNavigator

    What a touching story. Your nest may be missing one more, but you have feathered it well. I remember when I left Lauren, my youngest, at the dorm I started crying as soon as I turned and walked away from her building and didn’t stop for several hours. She must have sensed that I was going to lose it because instead of me calling to check on her when I arrived at my hotel she called to check on me.

    • jimhigley

      god bless our good daughters!

  • jenny h

    this was beautiful to read, thank you!

    • jimhigley

      thank you!

  • Anne Newton

    My oldest is about to start first grade. He tells me that he doesn’t want to go to college because he wants to live with mom and dad forever. I’m sure that he will change his mind before he turns 18.

    • jimhigley

      I think he’ll change his mind as well!

  • Carly

    With a 11 year old and a 2 year old, I am dreading having to do this so far apart!!! Lol At least I’ll have some 9 years to deal with all the emotion. Middle school is emotional enough!

  • Larry Bernstein

    You have to see the movie Boyhood. It depicts some of the experiences you are speaking about. My kids are still years from that but I can see the time flying by. I’m doing my best to make the most of these moments. I also hope that I’ll be able to be more happy than sad when my children are ready to move forward.

  • Chris Read

    And here I thought my youngest going into kindergarten was a big deal. I don’t even want to think of the day that my children go out into the world on their own. Congratulations on being chosen to be a part of this, Jim. It’s well deserved and also a big deal to be representing the dad community!

  • Anne Fousse

    I remember when my first was 3 months old, colicky, and I hadn’t slept in weeks and weeks. An old man at a table near-by said “enjoy every moment – it goes quickly”. I wanted to kill him. It wasn’t going quickly at all. In fact at that point every day felt like an eternity. But a wise person said to me, “The days crawl, but the years fly.” Now I understand what he meant. And I sympathise with you, Jim. I’ve got just a few years left before the college escape and I’m trying to be present in every moment. Wishing you well, Ax

  • Bernardo


  • Gamba

    Great to hear the parent perspective on moving on to the college chapter of life. I’ll be headed to campus in a few days and this helped me understand what my parents might be going through. Thanks and love the cause.

  • Marlboro Spacedog

    This comment is for the vaccine. Didn’t read the post, sorry.

  • jlai

    This is the moment your son grows into a man like yourself. It’s tough, but this is for the best.

  • Conor

    This is terrific

  • nomad

    pointless comment.. no need to read.. just get those kids vaccinated!

  • Donna

    Great story.

  • James


  • mama lovecass

    Nooooooo I’m anticipating this reality, my son is turning 18 in December and going to a uni 12 hours away next year I am dreading it. Thanks for the post.

  • Jo-Dee Collins

    This was so sweet. We sent our oldest to college last year. I was proud i didn’t cry.. i was honestly ver happy.. until i got home… i chopped off a dreadlock in sheer and pure mourning. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Jeremy Richard Winnett

    Thank you for sharing your story! This is such a good cause and I’m happy good people still exist

  • jenlsinger

    You are paving the way for me, Jim. I’m two years behind you on launching kid #1, and I am trying to capture your grace in this process. To paraphrase a book title, You’re a Good Dad!

  • Danielle

    I’m just here to comment for vaccines! My children are 16 years from this so I haven’t even started pondering first week of college goodbyes.

  • matt2816

    Congrats on the big moment!! I think you handled this situation very well.

  • Jim Flynn


  • Marc-Anthony Taylor

    Commented =) (Sorry at work)

  • Beth Dale Kromray

    While reading your blog, I could sit here and imagine everything you were writing and I started crying! Children are such a blessing – and I need to remember in that in those times of frustration when I’m ready to pull out my hair. I have a 5 & 2 yr old girls. 🙂

  • Roy

    I felt all so sad when i read your emotion although I dont understand at all because of my bad english level. I’m a student in a VietNam’s college but i understand heartily the poignant sorrow when let someone go.

  • shotgiver

    Give a shot

  • Tara

    I was fine with this until your teary good-bye. I too am driving my first-born and only son off to college in 29 days, 23 hours and 39 minutes and am trying to keep all of my parental angst to myself. Sometimes it overflows into his world and he throws it right back in my face. Good for him!!…to a point. My heart has been ripped out a few times in the last month; like when we were at orientation and he didn’t need me at all for the 2 days we were there. Wounded and a bit stunned, I came to same realization as you that this is not about me, it’s all about him and it is exciting and new for him. I have to step back, hand over the reins and let him fly! It’s scary, thrilling and emotionally exhausting, but I think I am ready. Maybe. Thank you for sharing your story as it is always nice to know I am not alone.

  • Erin


  • Nancy

    love it!

  • Andrew

    Well said.

  • Nate

    +1 vaccine. Also, this was a cool blog post. As a college student, I remember the awkward moment of everything being done, unpacked, etc., because it wasn’t that long ago. That moment sort of happens at the beginning of every year, and reading this post was a cool way to see it from my parents’ perspective.

  • Wreckinghorse


  • ginny

    My kids are in high school right now and I’ve recently been thinking a lot about an empty nest. *tears. I need a hobby!!!

  • Emily N

    Thanks for sharing for blogust! 🙂

  • Kim

    We take my son to college next week. It’s the same school I went to and the same school I have been hyping for 18 years but yet I have so many mixed feelings about him going. Your story had me tearing up in my office, the hug goodbye is what I am dreading more than anything. I know he will have many wonderful experiences and will learn so much but at times I want my little boy back. Thanks for giving me some idea of what to expect.

  • Andy Miller

    Great post Jim!

  • mommyking

    My oldest daughter is staring Kindergarten next week and so far, I’m ok with that. Your post brought back my experience of being dropped off at college by my mom. The excitement made me feel alive and the possibilities were so vibrant! Congrats to your son and all the freshmen starting their journey. Hugs to you and all the parents driving home alone.

  • Shannon Marie Federoff

    We’ve sent 3 off to college so far. It never gets any easier…. though maybe boy #6 won’t be that hard! 😉

  • Ann

    Even though it’s sad for parents when your kids leave, you should feel joyful that they are ready for the challenges ahead, ready to make new friends,able to live on their own, prepared to make good decisions, because of your good parenting.Give yourselves a pat on the back–you deserve it!!

  • LGumbinner

    I swear I choked up at that photo, before I even read a single word. Then I read and…oof. Pass the Kleeneex.

  • Kelly Donovan

    My son starts kindergarten next week and he told me a few days ago that he doesn’t want to go away to college because he will miss me and his room. But then I told him I could send him presents in the mail when he goes away to colkege and he couldn’t wait to leave. 🙂 He asked me if I could send him presents while he’s at kindergarten. I love him. Thank you for helping children be immunized.

  • Lisa

    Thank you!

  • emily

    Dropping off at kindergarten seems hard…and it’s 2 years away!

  • Pam Dillon

    My youngest is heading away to school August 31. He is my baby and the first to go. (His brother is going to school locally and living at home.) I am facing an abyss. In a good way. : )

  • Marieke

    Such a touching story. One shared by many!

  • Ilina

    My oldest is about the start middle school, and that’s bittersweet enough!

  • TheGiantPeach

    My son is only two and I’m already dreading this day with him.

  • Xavier

    I enjoyed this blog a lot. I found it interesting the acknowledgement that you’re not “completely” invited to this stage of life. This is key to keep a good balance in the parent child relationship. As a recent college grad, I can say that I did appreciate those wrap up conversations weekly or bi-monthly that my parents and I had. The conversations ranged from all aspects so the sooner you can realize your child is now a budding adult the quicker you can help them mature. Keep a test schedule as a easy indicator for when a pep talk or kick in the butt might be needed. Procrastination can be the norm but it’ll say more down the line when it counts if they’ve begun to manage their time a bit better. Good luck thru the years!

  • ccylevin

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Pam Petty

    Thank goodness for cell phones!

  • Brenda Drummer Martin

    I am grateful for the work of Shot At Life and others advocating for healthy children across the world! We can sometimes take for granted that many of our ailments are quickly cured with a Shot. But often, we don’t stop to think about what happens to children in countries where those shots aren’t available! This is something with which many us can help, but it is also something we can’t afford Not to!

  • LeticiaTechSavvyMama

    As a mom of a 5th grader, it’s hard to believe she’ll be in middle school next year with college not far behind. I can only hope that I’ve done a good job to prepare her for being that independent person as I kiss her goodbye and wish her well. Thank you for a wonderful post in honor of Blogust!

  • Seana

    Nice hearing a dad’s perspective. I guess they call them life passages for a reason!

  • Roger

    Thanks so much for your post as it hit home for this older dad. I was a late bloomer meaning I was a first time husband & father after 40…42 to be exact. When my wife and I dropped our boy off at his dorm, went through the his ciriculum and my stern warning “don’t goof off too much!” the emptiness set in a hurry. I think my wife handled it a lot better than this old guy here though she was in tears. It’s been 2 months and he calls us every night, he had a hard time in the beginning and wanted to come home the first month. As much I wanted that, I would of hurt him more than help him. He met new friends and a “girl” friend as well. His mom thinks it’s cute, my response is “stick to your studies darn it!”. We as parents do the best we can, not every decision we make may be correct though we learn from it and move on. I still have my younger son who is 15 and daughter 9 (gods little surprise when I was 51 and my wife 42). Believe it or not, their is a silver lining to everything as difficult it might be. Now things are actually kind of nice coming home from a long day at the office. No more of my wife not telling me the boys were trying to kill each other as usual and me going up their rooms and yelling at them to grow up. Thanks again for your post, Roger

  • Edward Bamberger

    Jim, your story is exactly what we are dealing with today, our son received a full scholarship to Appalachian State and although I am so happy and proud, I am also as sad as I have ever been so far in my 48 yearz on this earth.