Renee Whiting Photography-Santa Cruz, CA Photographer » Santa Cruz, CA Newborn and Child Photographer

Butterfly Kisses

Backtrack to the summer of 2000, my oldest daughter had been accepted to the college of her choice. My emotions we ALL OVER THE PLACE. Happy, sad, excited, proud. I didn’t know what to feel. I remember, as if it were yesterday, the song Butterfly Kisses coming on the car radio. I was heading to the grocery store and literally began sobbing! Our little girl, was going off to college. At the time I had no idea how I’d survive. She needed me, right? I needed her. But, come fall, we loaded the car. I remained strong as we moved her into her dorm and drove off. I had to, it wouldn’t be fair to her, during such an exciting time in her life, for her to see Mom being sad about it. And I really wasn’t sad, I just knew that I had a hole in my heart that didn’t exist before that day. Long story short, she did great and amazingly, so did I. I mean, I still had two other daughters at home to fill my days.

The following fall, daughter #2 headed off to college and I had to experience all the sadness all over again. But we still had our youngest daughter and she was never ever ever going to grow up and move away. Right? Isn’t that what they tell you?  We enjoyed every last minute of driving her to activities, we cheered at our last basketball game, we got toilet papered one last time and the sleepovers became fewer and fewer. She was beginning to need us less and less. OH NO! Was she really going to off to college like her sisters did?

It’s all going to be okay though, because the oldest is graduating and she’ll come home. Nope, just one more summer in her college town and then she’d come home. Nope wrong again! She fell in love, got married and stayed in her college town. Ditto for daughter #2.

Hmmm, really? Were we that awful of parents that they didn’t want to come back and live in their “little girl” town? Or, were we such awesome parents that we did such a great job raising happy healthy independent daughters that they could live anywhere they wanted and not need us day to day? That must be it!

One last chance, our youngest was graduating college and surely she’d be home. She loved growing up in this town! She loved us! I just know she’ll be home!

Wrong again, maybe I should have known she was the independent one after she spent two summers in Africa. Hint hint Mom, I’m pretty independent. She got a great job, working in LA for a publishing company. She’d always talked about moving to New York someday, so really I was thankful that she was in Los Angeles. At least she was semi close to her sisters and just a car drive away.

Life was good! We could travel to see our girls and their families just about anytime we wanted. They came home often. I could accept the fact that they didn’t live in our town and were all living their grown up lives in their own towns. Mama Bear would be okay!


Two weeks ago……..

Our youngest………..

gets the news of a job transfer to New York!

Our little girl is all grown up and we couldn’t be prouder! And while it’s Butterfly Kisses all over again (and my emotions are slightly a mess) we truly are over the top excited for what this journey holds for her and we look forward to all our visits and our personal guided tours of the Big Apple!

Be strong Mama Bear!!


  • Britt Anderson - September 4, 2011 - 9:08 am

    awww, momma, this is tough!!! I know it seems like forever before I will deal with this, but I know these moments sneak up on you quicker than you can imagine.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea Recla - September 4, 2011 - 11:53 am

    OH Renee, I can’t even begin (nor do I want) to know how that feels :( My one and only daughter is already 3years old and it feels like it is going way to fast. I don’t know if/when we will have another, she may be our last :( So, all I can do is cherish every moment I have with her now. My heart goes out to you <3ReplyCancel

  • evie - September 4, 2011 - 11:56 am

    Renee!! What a beautiful tribute to your daughters. And to yourself! It takes a lot to admit that you’re proud of them and a little sad at the same time. It takes even more to loosen the apron strings and let them go off and do their own thing. Just think, now you have an excuse to go to New York and do some shopping!!ReplyCancel

  • Adrianne - September 4, 2011 - 4:47 pm

    Renee, I can’t even tell you how much this touched me. I’m struggling with my guys leaving for college a couple hours away. Even with two more at home, it’s tough. Especially when they don’t want to come home every.single.weekend! What aren’t we cool enough? ;) Knowing they are not only planning to stay in that town or even…gulp…want to move to another country is something we just don’t want to think about.

    Thank you for showing that these emotions are normal and that you can survive. I only hope my guys think I’m as good a mom as your girls think of you. :)ReplyCancel

  • Summer - September 4, 2011 - 5:17 pm

    Awww, what a strong Mama Bear! I know you are so very proud of all 3 of your daughters & now you have lots of excuses to see NY! Sometimes we need them more then they need us but I know you will stay strong & sit back & watch what wonderful people they are becoming! And thank goodness for all the awesome tech stuff like Skype! : )ReplyCancel

  • beth - September 5, 2011 - 8:52 am

    I’m sitting at my computer looking for another box of kleenex because the one on the counter is now empty! So well I remember those feelings when the kids went off to college. How proud we were (and are) of our children. How fast the time has gone…little Rono and baby Kendyll…the “girls” and Jamie…and little Jenny. I have so many fun memories of our kids growing up and look at them now! I think as parents we always will have that little “hole” of sadness in our hearts that fills up each and everytime we see our children and hold and hug the grandchildren and then opens up just a little when it’s time to say “goodbye, see you soon”. Sending you big hugs!!!ReplyCancel

  • Becky - September 5, 2011 - 7:03 pm

    Okay, thanks for the cry!! What a wonderful post about your sweet girls. They have had a wonderful Momma Bear to teach them about life and love. Thank you for sharing your heart. Hugs for you sweet friend. I am cherishing every moment with my sweet girl. ;)ReplyCancel

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