Parenting is a lifelong commitment.
My mother still marvels at how fast I grew up, and I know she was very much taken aback by the (first) time I moved out. I was 20 then and honestly, she would have been fine if I'd stayed indefinitely. Did she ever think, watching me take my first steps, that the years would fly by and that one day she'd be helping me move across the country? I'm sure she did. But that doesn't mean she was entirely prepared.
After Redditor amberarmy1912 asked the online community, "Parents, what surprised you the most when your child moved out?" people shared their stories.
"Or just grabbing something..."
One thing is how much I do miss my kids. I enjoy them not being here (even more once the last one moves out and my MIL is gone) but I miss the f*** out of them. I was so tired of living in one room (the master bedroom was also my office and I work from home) and I enjoy the extra room, but I hate not stopping by and joking around when I see something weird or funny online. Or just grabbing something I know they like when I am at the store and just kind of dropping it by their room as I go past. All those little things are gone now. I hope they realize how much those little things really meant.
The other is some of my own personal issues. I want to hear from my kids but I don't want to bother them so I don't contact them as often as I would like. I have never been much of a just shoot-the-s*** person so that hurts me in communications. I see a lot of my dad in me that way, he rarely ever calls me except when there is a death in the family or something. I used to not call him when he worked because I could never remember when it was safe to call.
"The difference..."Zip It Keeping Up With The Kardashians GIF by E!Giphy
The difference between peaceful quiet and sad, lonely quiet.
My mother told me this...
...after I left. It must have been quite the adjustment.
"The moment our son moved out..."
The moment our son moved out to live on his own he became vegetarian. He never gave us any indication he was planning to or wanted to be vegetarian.
"I was cooking recipes..."
We have one kid. I was cooking recipes for 6 every night thinking that the portion counts were misleading because we never had any leftovers. Nope. Our grocery bills are now about a third of what they used to be.
That's always nice!
Tell me: Who doesn't love saving money?
"I also realized..."
That we talk more now that he lives on his own. We seriously play games at least twice a week for four to six hours. I also realized I was the safe mom that all his friends felt comfortable with. They still call to talk or stop by for a socially distanced catch-up.
I also realized that my water bill was only a 1/4 of what it used to be. I wasn't imagining the super long showers.
"I found out..."
Mom here. I was worried that I would be sad and heartbroken. I found out that was not the case. I was excited to see where her path took her. It's amazing to see her making her own world and dreams come true. I now have more money, so I travel a lot more.
"I'm sorry, mom." (From a child.)
How many kitchen utensils you actually need to make basic meals.
I'm sorry mom. I will never make fun of your crowded cupboards again.
This is so true!
My kitchen cabinets are so cluttered. In a way, I am thankful. I know I am always prepared in the event I want to make something new. It's a great feeling.
"God knows I love them..."
It's an instant pay rise. God knows I love them, but even when they have been working and contributing to the household, me and my wife have still fronted most of the bills and purchases. Going from providing for a family of five to just me and the wife.... let's just say we eat better cuts of meat and our savings accounts have never been healthier.
"The possibility to spend much more time..."
The possibility to spend much more time with my wife, which wasn't a surprise, but to sort of rediscover her as the amazing individual I once fell in love with. I never lost sight of it, but the roles of mother and father took up soo much of our time, so our "we"-time had always been on the back-burner (I know I haven't worded this very clearly, but I hope you get what I mean).
"They have their own, thoughtful opinions..."
When they move out, they also take a step towards adulthood, which means our relationship also changes for the better. We can take a step away from "parent-child"-relationship to "two people who love and respect each other" and we can talk about many issues much more as equals now. They have their own, thoughtful opinions on many topics, an I love having these discussions because more often than not they'll surprise me with a different perspective, and make me re-think my own opinions.
"I'm a dad..."
The dad identity I adopted isn't who I am.
I'm a dad, but I used to be more than that and still want to be.
How much my food bill went down. Also the quiet.
Moooooowho let the dogs out joke GIF by Super SimpleGiphy
My oldest son drinks milk like crazy. I'd buy 4 to 6 gallons a week for our family of 5. He moved out so I figured I'd need half that.
Poured a gallon down the sink because it went bad. Okay just get one gallon. We sometimes didn't use that so I buy half gallons now. This means I was spending over $500 a year just on milk for my oldest. It took me almost 6 months to figure out portions of protein, I was making three side dishes, I cut that to two.
How clean the house can be.
I have lived on my own now for a few years and i used to be bugged about messes but nowadays I realize there is no way to stay clean all the time and having a clean day once a week or every other week is good for the mind and soul. So I'll make small messes and then save a day to do a deep clean.
My mom bought two guinea pigs because "the house felt empty."
My parents have had 5 kids move out so far and are now the proud owners of 3 cats and 2 dogs. I'm fully convinced she is replacing us with animals. Not sure if I should be offended that she got a pomeranian when I moved out. That thing is annoying as hell.
I'm the last child to move out. I guess what surprised me was how much my dad cared for his children. Mother told me how he'd cried for days because i could have stayed longer but decided to start my life. Never really dawned on me how much he loves us.
Now thats love!
Man, my room was turned into a workout room within a month, my mom still collected child support from my dad for me but didn't support me at all in college, then mom tried to claim me on her taxes as she "continues to provide a home for me". While I had a full time job in school to pay rent and bills. I filed my taxes first which caused her taxes to get flagged, she tried to get me to re-file as her dependent. Now thats love!
the 4 of us...
We are 4 children, the youngest is nearly 28 and we all moved out years ago. I am currently 30 and moved out when I was 18. We all thought it would get to my mum, but actually it was my dad who said he couldn't stand the empty and quiet house. All 4 of us liked to bring friends and the house was always full. I totally get that it must feel strange sometimes, but initially I thought he would love the peace.
He gets all emotional when we visit and keeps our rooms like they were so we always have somewhere to stay if we want to. We are all having kids now and my parents even bought beds etc for them, so we could (and would) stay over night. Tbh I really enjoy it too, when we all come together to this day.
To answer on my parents behalf: how much the two of them had grown apart.
Turns out, they love each other and are having a blast now. Communicate, people.
My mom said the most surprising thing to her is all the meals she used to cook for us that I hated, I now request those same meals frequently. Lol.
On the flip side; my mum told me the first night I moved out, she found my dad sitting downstairs reading my favourite childhood book to himself. I hilariously refused to let anyone read me that book. That was mine and dad's book up until I was about 6 (then I just read by myself)
After all the emotional/verbal abuse he dealt throughout my life I was surprised he cared enough to miss me.
back & forth
Just how much I still miss living with him, even though he's been settled out of home for a few years now after yo-yoing a bit.
Honestly I feel like my dad for sure misses me more than my mom. he wasn't really one to say i love you or I'm proud of you but now he's always hugging me and telling me he loves me all types of stuff.
The porn that boy stashed under his mattress. I burned it. not to my taste whatsoever.
It Was You!
Answering for my parents:
That it wasn't their kids who kept making the house messy and hoarding.
We have 4 kids. When the 1st left, I was surprised at how much the whole dynamic of the house changed. Don't know how to explain it. Just a different vibe.
Also, we did a pretty good job of having dinner together as a family nearly every night. So, of course, everyone had their place at the table and that never changed. For a few months after the first one moved out, sometimes I'd look to the other end of the table and my wife would be spontaneously crying as she looked at the empty spot next to her. (Don't worry, we're doing better now)
Lastly, this can be quite emotional for some parents because in some ways they are almost having a funeral for the child. Once that kid moves out, there can be a literal mourning of the "death" of a child because that child is never coming back. When they visit again they are an adult. And by saying this I certainly don't want to trivialize the trauma folks experience at the actual death of a child. This isn't nearly as hard. Not even in the same universe of difficulty.
ZzzzzzzTired Jet Lag GIF by CBCGiphy
How they can sleep so many hours but yet keep you from sleeping.
It Gets Better
My son left and moved out at 19 last year and I've been verklempt about his absence on our daily lives. Did you feel a difference between the first vs the others? We still have 3 more kids at home and I've stated hugging them twice as much 🥺.
How much harder it is to raise grandkids. We just weren't expecting that one.
I was raised by my grandparents. They weren't expecting to raise more kids. They wanted to retire and travel. Instead they both had to keep working and raising babies (I have a twin). In your 50's is not easy physically, either.
Funny Ha Ha
Answering on their behalf "just a joke" they now have to take out the trash and do grocery shopping themselves, plus they have to get off their seats to get a cup of water.
How much we miss our daily interactions, even when they were just 15 minutes long.
Before our oldest children moved out (two to go!), they were hardly home. Between college, "study groups", working and social activities, on most days we'd see them just before bed and just after they woke up.
Now that they're out on their own, we really miss even those "daily check-ins".
We still call and text a lot. But obviously it isn't the same.
I get that your children aren't given to you, they're loaned to you. But damn if it doesn't feel like a part of you has been amputated.
I was the youngest of 3 and moved out with my sister. My mom kept going on about how excited she was to be free. 2 months in she adopted a cat that look exactly like mine. I still call her once a week to make sure she isn't to lonely.
The Pick Up
How quickly they pick things up. I don't mean that literally. I think I thought my daughter would be a potato for much longer than she was.
Showertimeevery day shower GIFGiphy
We have son and 2 daughters, when daughters were both in college water bill was reduced by 2/3.
In the Poorhouse
I never realized how much my parents relied on my rent. Every month I have to come up with a different excuse so they'll still take it.
This doesn't seem... right. There is a lot of expenses that come with starting a life as a young adult. Unless your parents are disabled or elderly they are doing you a disservice by not allowing you to save for your own future. You will have time to take care of them later.
Having to shift my focus from them to myself. What the heck do I do now?!
As the one who moved out: How pets can take to the change of household members.
My parents have a cat, Riley, who was with them the time I was living with them (note: This was my second time living at home, bad times in my life) - he always had a connection with me, and would enjoy curling up next to me and purring for me, plus, I am the only one he allows to carry him baby style.
And after I moved out, he spent several days wandering around the house, as if he was trying to find where I had disappeared to.
And the first time I visited after that, he meowed at me a lot, like he was shouting at me for leaving. Even now, when I visit, he'll cuddle up to me the moment I am sat down.
Prideproud kimmy gibbler GIF by Fuller HouseGiphy
How proud I am that they are independent and happy, and shocked I lived to see the day!
That he never called his mother for 3 weeks. She was crushed. She loves her babies even at age 22. We still have 3 at home thank goodness.
Amusingly, my father specifically told me not to call my mother the first three weeks I was away at school.
The crushing pain. Never for a minute did I expect it. Watched him drive away with his friend, car all packed up to move into an apartment together, and burst into tears. Went up to his room to vacuum and sob. Grieved for two weeks. He moved across town.
Then as the years went by, he came back, moved back out, came back again, moved back out again. The last time he moved, he went 2,000 miles away, a 3-hour plane ride. I'll never get over it.
We're damned happy for him to be living a full life on his own terms, but had no idea it wouldn't include us in any way. I just never saw that future in my little crystal ball. We were always supportive: "Do your own thing, whatever it is, we'll support your choices," and still feel that way. But I had no idea what the physical pain of him being out of our daily lives would be. What can I say, he's a sparkler, and our lives are simply dull without him.
How fast they come back.
Give a Ring
I grew up with strict parents. Religious, politically conservative, all that.
My folks were strict enough, that when I was in college and over the age of 18, they would still interfere and make decisions for me.
When I finally got out on my own, I stopped telling them about a lot of my life. I started doing a lot of things that I had always wanted to do. And I also found that I didn't need or want to talk with them that often, because they were my primary social group even up to my early 20s.
Last year, I made the decision to start calling my mom once a week. Before that, even though I didn't talk to her frequently, I made sure to tell her I loved her before I hung up.
This year I am calling my mom twice a week. Our relationship has gotten a lot better, and I kind of wish I had started doing this 10 years ago.
What a Mess...gross parks and recreation GIF by HULUGiphy
My best friend found half of their dishes hidden in their son's closet. They were dirty and disgusting. They knew dishes were going missing and had asked him dozens of times if he had them but he always denied it. He wasn't mean or rotten just lazy and goofy.
Water is Free
That a gallon of milk and loaf of bread did not cost $20 !!!
A New Son
That her boyfriend continued to live here. When my daughter went back to college her boyfriend had already been staying here for a few months. His dad had died & his mom had to move into a much smaller place so he moved in with us. When my daughter went back to her dorm he stayed & continued to commute to his college. It was temporary & he's a good guy so it wasn't too bad, just unexpected.
Sorry Ma...Sorry Dog GIF by swerkGiphy
I moved out at 17 because my GF got an apartment. Mom was heartbroken and I feel bad about it today.
My parents have reported most of the same; sad, quiet, lonely, cheaper food bill, etc. But once my brother moved back in for a while in his early 20s and my mom said she missed being able to go downstairs and get coffee in the morning without putting clothes on.
I'm the Kid!!
When I moved out (I moved countries too so I was gone, gone) I got a pitiful phone call from my parents. They begged me to return. My dad said he needed someone to talk to (basically he wanted his free therapist back) and needed someone to give him back massages (He historically had back problems and my mom is crap at massaging sore muscles without leaving bruises). My mom begged me to come back and take over parenting, cooking and cleaning again saying that she was too old. It made me feel very used.
I hadn't realized how much I had been doing for them. It was especially manipulative when my mom put my baby sister on and she cried and asked why I didn't love her anymore and told me about how my mom wasn't taking care of her and just ignored her needs (she was 4).
All the stuff he had. I don't know where he got thousands of dollars worth of cameras, tablets, laptops, and other expensive things.
He never had a traditional employer. When we saw all the stuff, we thought he got into drugs or stealing or something.
A New Beginning...
How similar it feels to starting your life over after a breakup or graduating from college. And then the immense sadness you feel when they ask to move back in because the $150K liberal arts degree you bought them won't let them actually make a living.
My parents begged me to move home because they wanted to have a full house again. When COVID hit, they got their wish. They seem to forget their kids aren't children anymore and that we don't have to ask permission to come and go or to spend time somewhere that isn't home.
That last one hits me something fierce...
...and I'm not even a parent!
It must be incredibly difficult to accept these kinds of changes after so many years of sacrifice.
If you'll excuse me, I'll go hug my mom. (Thankfully we've been able to see each other during this pandemic!)
Have your own stories to share? Feel free to share them in the comments below.