Living in a World of Mixed Emotions

We are all unique individuals.

We all handle situations differently.

To be able to express–or not express–our feelings and emotions is how we cope with these situations.

Neither way is right or wrong.

It just is.

It’s who we are.

It’s what makes us these incredibly unique creatures living here on this earth.

Recently, my sweet friend, Cathy Zielske, sent her first child off to college. Sending your first child away is hard…period. And it has been tough for her like for so many of us.

I have sent two children away under much stricter circumstances than college. Sending them on an LDS mission is without a doubt one of the hardest scenarios ever. And there are varying levels of that as well. Luckily my kids were state-side. I can’t imagine having them go to Africa or Argentina or some place where they eat chicken feet. While they are gone for two whole years (18 months for girls), you only have one email communication with them a week and two phone calls a year–Mother’s Day and Christmas. No daily phone calls. No Face Time. No Snap Chat or watching their activities via Instagram. No weekend trips home. Nada.

Gone is gone though. And it’s all tough.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a situation like mine, a child going into the military, one getting married, or sending them off to college. Decreasing your household size by losing one of its people–your people–is hard.

Last week someone made a comment to Cathy about toughening up (read her post yesterday). Obviously that was how this person handles her emotions and that’s alright for her. Other people are different in so many ways and other people are the same. But remember….we are all unique.

The desire to express your thoughts and feelings is only natural. It’s how many people process a situation.

I am not a cryer, but does that make me any less feeling of sending my kids off to be on their own?

Not even. 

After that had happened to her last week, I sent her these two pages I’m sharing today from when Zach left on his mission (below). She had created some similar pages or writings of her own on Aidan leaving. She insisted I share these pages (again) in light of ‘many mamas’ who are sending their child to some far-off land where they can’t even make their child comfort food when they have a bad day.

It’s an emotional time, whether you physically express them or not.

I can tell you–without a doubt–that five+ years later I am so glad that I wrote this and created these pages.

It was crazy when Jordan left right before Christmas. And while I did take photos, I did not write down my feelings at that time. It hasn’t even been a year, but I don’t feel the same things or have the same thoughts that I did at the time she left.

Cathy, my dear, and other parents out there going through this new chapter in your life, write about it. Photograph it. It is important to remember what you are feeling at that moment, however you may be feeling it. It’s the same when losing a loved one. I lost my mother ten years ago and while it took me almost a year to recount the story, I finally did it. Those particular feelings were still fresh, but I knew they would fade as would the memories of those last few months of her life. You think you will remember for ever…and you don’t.

Additionally, social media is a place where you can commiserate…uhhh…I mean feel like you are not alone. And it’s okay to express–or not express–your feelings on your own social media. It is, after all, an extension of who you are and how you retain these thoughts and feelings.

Truly, it’s comforting to know that you are not alone and can receive support among friends and those who may be going through the same chapter.

And that’s a good thing, especially when the number of people in your home just got smaller…and it got a whole lot quieter.



2017-05-20T08:14:55+00:00September 10th, 2014|everyday life, pages|13 Comments


  1. Cindy September 10, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Love you Ker, and loved this post. I am missing my girl a lot this week and it helps to know I’m not alone. I need to take some time today to write a few things down. Loved your thoughts and beautiful layouts, thanks so much for sharing. :)

  2. Audrey V September 10, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Thank you for sharing. I sent my oldest son to college 2 weeks ago and it’s been a tough transition for my husband and I. We just miss him so much! I know that children are supposed to grow up and move out, but it’s hard to take care of someone everyday for 19 years, and then there are just gone! Thank goodness for my scrapbooks, so I can relive the good memories. I’m happy that he is in a good place, but the selfish me wishes he was still here at home.

  3. Renee G September 10, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Beautiful Kerri, very well said, caught the emotions.

  4. Vicki September 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Oh my gosh – those pages are beautiful. I have a big lump in my throat. I do remember when my first one left — the first time I set the table for three instead of four, I sobbed.

  5. angela September 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Love your writing and especially this post. I spent a number of years working at a college, receiving those children you sent to us for higher education. While I am old enough to have kids in college, I have little ones at home and it will be many years before I have to send anyone off. Really appreciate your sentiments. There are so many big moments we need to write about: births, deaths, moves, goodbyes and hellos.
    And Kerri, can you tell us who the missionaries of LDS stay with while they are on their missions? I have always wondered. Do they stay in a apartments or with other missionaries or with LDS families who serve as their hosts?

    • Kerri September 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      Hey Angela!
      Missionaries often stay in their own apartment–at the minimum in groups of two, sometimes there can be a group of three or four. Occasionally there are families that have a separate living space in their home, like a mother-in-law apartment, and so while they are technically with someone, they are pretty much on their own. Where Jordan stayed in the Palatka/San Mateo area in Florida, there weren’t really apartment buildings. So they stayed with an elderly widowed lady in her 80s (a little spitfire) and she fed them when other members weren’t feeding them. The place she stayed in the first six weeks was an apartment with another sister missionary. When you start getting into the foreign countries, sometimes they’ll even have a ‘maid’ of sorts that does the cooking for them because the food gets iffy and hard to access in remote areas. So having the church pay these women to make the missionaries good food is better than them trying to find food that could make them sick. Think jungle scenarios or poverty stricken places. :) That’s why I’m glad my kids were stateside.

  6. angela September 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks so much for answering my question :)

  7. Peggy W September 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    This is a very fitting blog post. I just sent my baby daughter off today to the MTC. She is headed to Germany. She is the youngest of 4 and all have served missions. It is very bitter sweet. I have been praying all day to keep my emotions in check. Thanks for your uplifting words. I think I will go have a good cry now and maybe eat some ice cream and then I will be good for 18 months. Thanks again. Peggy

  8. Barbara September 10, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    My oldest moved out a year ago, went through her first year of college, decided to stay there for the summer, get her CNA and work along with taking additional college classes and started her second year of college a couple weeks ago. I miss her terribly – I still have one daughter at home however, since she is a senior in high school, she is busy and I rarely see her. I have been given a taste of empty nest syndrome. While I sympathized with others when they had it, I had no idea how tough it is to go through and how easy it is to say “Get a grip” to someone else. I even say it to myself but it doesn’t change anything – I’m still lonely and miss my daughter. My world revolved around raising these two girls to be responsible, strong and independent women. I guess I did too good of a job (well not really – they still call me when they need help).

    I love your pages – I think documenting these times would help me. Thank you for sharing!

  9. MaryGW September 11, 2014 at 6:24 am

    I love this post and what you wrote about the way we express ourselves, or not. Wonderful insight!

  10. heidig September 11, 2014 at 7:33 am


  11. Pau lab September 11, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Thanks Kerri for sharing. My daughter left for vacation for a month and I walked around like a zombie. Wanting to,pick up the phone every morning and gab but wanting her to enjoy time away from home. It will be another three years but this is a reminder to document the journey in writing.

  12. Michelle September 12, 2014 at 8:53 am

    I have not read Cathy’s page. I will have to do so. I am dumbfounded, daily, at how blunt (trying to be nice) people are. I can’t believe someone would tell her to toughen up, or whatever they said. It’s like people seem to open their mouth and insert their foot so much more. Where is the compassion for other people? Like you said, everyone handles things differently. No two people are the same, and it would be a really boring world if they were.

    My oldest graduated from high school eight years ago. Still find that so hard to believe, and impossible because it feels like yesterday. When she moved out two years after that, it was HARD! She has stayed in the same town. But still, it was hard. To not see her everyday. To wake up daily and especially on holiday mornings and her not be there. Our household felt so incomplete. It wasn’t the best of circumstances that she moved out on either. It was one of those, I don’t want to follow the household rules and being completely disrespectful, so we told her she needed to find a place of her own. So the strain in our relationship didn’t help. I am so glad things have become better, and she has grown up. Now, in two more years, I have another wanting to move out. She talks of moving across country. I just can’t even think about that one or even deal with that one. I would have a harder time with that than when Laura moved out. To not be there to help them when they need it, I just can’t imagine. Apparently, I need to toughen up too.

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