A Poem about Daughters & Sons Going to College, Leaving Home, Parents Letting Adult Child Go - A Key For Home

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Boxes are all packed

The truck is ready to go

Standing before me,

I'm shocked

To see that you're grown.

A wife and a mother

No longer a child,

My precious baby

Sweet girl

For such a short while.

Where is that little girl

Who always needed me so?

Neither in front, nor behind,

Where has she gone?

Her little girl giggle

Sometimes whispers

A trace of a melody

The refrain of a song,

A bit of my memory

To carry along.

There are moments

That seem

An eternity to take,

Then there are those

So fleeting,

So fragile,

You fear if you breathe,

They will break.

Somewhere in-between

Is where this moment fits in,

There is so much to say

So little time,

I don't know

If I know

where to begin.

We've prepared

For this moment

All of your life,

One day it would happen

I've always known,

You would have to go out

Chasing dreams of your own.

To be independent

Following where life led,

I prayed softly

Each night

As I put you to bed.

"Sleep peacefully

My little one,

Dream of days

That will come,"

I crooned

As I rocked you

Close to my breast,

"Up above you will soar

Your wings you will test."

Sweet angel girl

With a devilish grin

It's hard to imagine

How quickly

Has passed,

Moments that sped by

From beginning

To end,

From the first

To the last.

"Reach for the stars

Be happy and safe,"

Another prayer

Another time

While lying awake,

Waiting to hear

A key in the door,

"Love well

And be loved,"

They all are things

I wished and prayed for.

That you would be healthy

And happy,

All of you days.

Someday

Able to look back

And be proud,

Of the life you had made.

Skeptics who say

Prayers are not answered

Wishes can't come true,

I know are mistaken,

Standing before me

You are the proof.

I am awed by the sight.

Of your vision and fire

Your strength of character

Your compassionate heart.

I marvel and wonder

At all you've accomplished

Already done

My heart swells

With pride

To know this person

That you've become.

It's time to go

You're ready to leave

To take flight from the nest,

To fly high

To be free,

Adventures await

What will life bring?

I am happy for you

It is how it should be

For this is the natural

Order of things.

I will miss you

So much more

When you are gone,

Tears now are threatening

My fragile veneer of calm.

There's just one more thing

Hold out your hand

I've something that is yours

You must take it with you,

Keep it in a safe place

Tuck it away,

Insurance of sorts

Against some rainy day.

Always remember

No matter how high you may fiy

Or how far you may roam,

If ever you need it

You've a key in your pocket

Your key to home.

- Kristen Burns-Darling

©2011 (all rights reserved)

Ashley and I 1990

Ashley and I  June 1990
Ashley and I June 1990 | Source

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Comments 48 comments

thebluestar profile image

thebluestar 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

Beautiful tribute to a dear daughter, and the one thing that all mother's relate to is the loss, because that is what it is, when a child leaves home. My son left home Christmas 2009 and I still have a t.shirt of his, not washed that a frequently cuddle, just the smell of him is a great comfort. I miss him so much although he is now a daddy, and only lives three miles away. I have to speak to him everyday and my heart soars when I catch sight of him. He may be a daddy, but he is still my baby and that will never change. Hugs. x


Kamalesh050 profile image

Kamalesh050 5 years ago from Sahaganj, Dist. Hooghly, West Bengal, India

Oh its a very beatiful poem and so touching ! Small sweet words flowing down all the way are like drops of your tears that say everything - your love and care, sadness, concern and the thoughts for your child who is now adult and has to move to a new home. You always write so excellently and I am one of your admirers, touch wood its true.

All my Best Wishes to you.

- Kamalesh


Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 5 years ago from On the edge

I know you must have cried as you wrote this bittersweet poem. You have summed it all up so well, so beautifully. My heart broke the day my son left for college and the day my daughter got married. All the years had flown past. Big big hugs to you for setting her free with love and not guilt, for letting her know she can always come home. Just an amazing poem!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@bluestar - My oldest, is only partially mine, in that she is my niece, she has a mother and a father, but I was her third parent all of her life, we laughingly call her my "niece-child" She married in 2006, and had a son in 2007, she and her husband have been out on their own for 5 years, but she's never lived more than 5 minutes from me, and last Friday, they moved all the way across the country..It is a wonderful opportunity for them, and I was the first one, when they were considering the move, to tell them to go, that they deserved to be a family in their own right.....That was when I didn't realize how hard it would be....My son is planning to leave next July to join the Navy just like his father did, right after high school, my daughter, a year younger, is planning to leave for college the year after that, I will be effectively losing 3/4 of my children, one right after the other, 3 years in a row....at least I still have my three year old....maybe I can convince her to stay with Mommy forever?


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 5 years ago

This is an absolutely beautiful work. It brought a tear to my eye as I savored every word. Unfortunately for me my two oldest haven't spoken to or seen me in years, they were casualties of a bitter divorce with their mother and me.

However I to miss them daily and they will always be in my heart till my last breath. I pray that some day they bury their bitterness and come back in to my life. I fortunately still have a 17 yr old son living with me, even though he has struggles in his young life, he at least is here and standing with me and working on his young peer pressured life.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to your daughter she will always be close and dear to your heart and never really far. What a tender feeling to be loved.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Kamalesh - Your kind words humble me! I hadn't actually thought about it as I was writing it, but you are right, all of those little words are the personification of every tear that I have cried since she and her husband and son left last Friday. Thank you again for your support!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Poohgranma- Sherry you know that I did....I have been crying ever since! I was the first one, when her husband got the job offer, and they were only considering the move, to jump up and tell her that they should take it. It is really a wonderful opportunity for them, both for his career, financially, and for them personally as a family. They got married so young, and then had the baby right away, and as much as I love them, I know from experience how the only way that they will ever get to be a family in their own right is for them to leave here, I know, because Michael and I went through it ourselves; I just didn't realize how hard it was going to be to let go of her... She may be my niece, but I have been her third parent all of her life, she has always been more daughter than niece... That is why I call her "niece-child."... Joey is planning to leave for boot camp right after graduation next year, and Jordie is planning to leave for college the summer after that.....Do you think it would be wrong to change tactics and brainwash Jami into staying with mommy forever? Thank you, as always, for your kind words and your support!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Saddlerider - You always say the kindest things, and I am always humbled by them. Our children are only really ours for a short period of time, and I know that this is the best thing for her and for her husband and child, it is just harder than I thought it would be to actually have her be more than 5 minutes away. We still talk everyday, several times a day, and Colorado is only 15 hours away, but at the moment it is so new and so fresh that it feels like a billion miles away... I am glad that you have your son with you, My son will turn 17 next month, and is planning to leave us for boot camp right after graduation next year, with his sister to follow in his footsteps, leaving for college the summer after, so this is only my first taste of this particular brand of separation-anxiety....I hope it gets easier! I have a three year old at home to, and while I taught the two older girls to be very independent I can't help wondering if I should change my tactics? Thanks again for your kind words, and your support, they are much appreciated!


Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 5 years ago from On the edge

You have raised them to have confidence in themselves and to know your love. That is all you can do. It troubles my heart so that your son will be going into the military. My son wanted to also and maybe it would have been a better path for him but I fought it with every ounce of my being. That is a personal family decision though. Thank God you have the little one left at home because when mine both left within in two months of each other and my husband's ex-wife was doing everything she could to destroy him and us, that is when his disability manifested in a way that has never lessened and within a year my depression came again stronger than ever and has stayed.

That is not to say this was normal, children leaving home IS normal and if I had not put all of my attention and wrapped up my life so tightly with theirs, we would have all been a lot healthier. You are doing the right thing. You are a wonderful Mom and a beautiful soul!


xanzacow profile image

xanzacow 5 years ago from North Myrtle Beach, SC

Sweet. :)


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ xanzacow - Thank you!


Sweet Beulah Land profile image

Sweet Beulah Land 5 years ago from Red Clay Delta, North America

This is a beautiful poem about family. If it is your direct child, or your niece, it does not matter. What is displayed is unconditional love. Thank you for sending sunshine into a stormy day.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ Sweet Beulah Land - What nice things you say. Thank you so much! I am humbled by your kindness.... Have a wonderful day!


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

A beautiful piece which leaves me breathless with admiration for your work and intent. Excellent writing.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@chspublish - Thank you for your kind words. I am glad that you enjoyed it.


gg.zaino profile image

gg.zaino 5 years ago from L'America

I liked this line-

"Love well - and be loved.."

our girls are always hardest to watch leave. But we never really do let them go...

Thank you for this poem- much heartfelt emotion.

peace sister- greg


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@gg.zaino - Yes, yes they are, although I suspect I will have much the same trouble next year when my son leaves home....ah well, it was much harder to let the oldest go, than I thought it would be, but it really is the way it should be...

Thank you for your kind words, I am glad that you enjoyed it, (and for the fan mail, and the follow) I look forward to reading more by you!


LadyFae profile image

LadyFae 5 years ago from Under the Stars

Sweet!!!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ LadyFae - Thank-you, and thanks for the follow also!


Daydreamer Too 5 years ago

Time flies! I've raised my late life partner's child since she was 4 years old, she just turned 15 a couple of weeks ago and, parenting comes without an instruction manual. There's been many times I have gotten it wrong but, many times I didn't and, she is blossoming into such a nice teen now.

Your prose is heartfelt and full of love, thanks for sharing it and thanks for the follow, following you now too. :)


Emily A Torres profile image

Emily A Torres 5 years ago from Indiana

Thank you for sharing this


MFB III profile image

MFB III 5 years ago from United States

You had me at the first few words. I am losing my son too soon, off to his own life, unfettered by my choices, to some extent....sweet freedom for him but some added worries for me..but he will do fine...they all do..and then they come back around for a visit or a handout, and then eventually they will bring new children for us to enjoy all over again...lovely poem.~~~MFB III


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ Daydreamertoo - If we are doing our job, then we spend the entirety of their early lives preparing them to spread their wings and fly...I have always known this, and I was the very first to jump up and tell them that they should take the opportunity....just didn't know how heart wrenching it was going to be when she actually drove away! Happy to report, they are settling in well, and even though I miss them terribly, I am also very proud. I still have a 15 year old, a 16 year old, and a 3 year old at home to distract me...The 16 year old will be 17 next week, and is planning to leave for bootcamp next summer....Lets hope it gets a little easier! Thanks for your kindness and for the follow!


Daydreamer Too 5 years ago

Awwwww... thank you so much for your comment! Very much appreciated. :)


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

MFBIII - It is so true isn't it? I am looking at doing this three years in a row, as my son is planning to leave for bootcamp right after graduation next year, and my younger daughter, who has been planning her life since she was five, is hoping to be at Texas A&M the year after that. You are right when you say that they all do okay, as the eldest and her family are settling in just fine. It is hard to let them go, but I believe that you and your son will both do well! Thank you for your time and for your kind words, I am glad that you enjoyed this


Janell Rhiannon profile image

Janell Rhiannon 5 years ago from CA, USA

loved it...truly hits home as I watch my own baby girl chase her dreams, leaving me...standing alone...thank you:)


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Janell Rihiannon - You are very welcome! It was so much harder to let her go than I thought it would be! But I am so very proud of both of them! I hope it gets easier for you and for me, I have to do it again next year with my son! Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for the follow!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

..well your writing has a key to my heart and mind - and this is such a wondrous epic piece of writing that my heart and mind is in a very special place right now - because of you!!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

epi- You say the sweetest things...You make me blush and as always your opinion matters ever so much! I am glad you enjoyed this!


aslanlight profile image

aslanlight 5 years ago from England

My only child, my son left home recently and I empathise. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through, but he's doing fine!

This is a profound, heartfelt and well expressed poem.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@aslanlight - I am glad that your son, like my oldest, (who is actually my niece, but who has always been more like a daughter who has been blessed with three parents) and her husband and their son, are also doing well, I am having harder time with this than they are...Next summer it will be my son's turn, and my daughter the year after that....my three year old has years to go at home with mom... Thank you for the time spent reading this, and for your kind words! I am glad that you enjoyed it!


Maggie.L profile image

Maggie.L 5 years ago from UK

A beautiful, pognant poem. My oldest is 15 years old so it might not be too long before she flies the nest and I am not looking forward to that moment at all. Thanks for sharing your touching poem with us.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ Maggie.L - The oldest, who inspired this poem is actually my niece, who has had the wonderful luck of having had three parents her whole life, she has always been more my daughter than my niece, and as an only child, refers to my children as her siblings. She will be 22 in July, and is married with a three year old son. They moved across the country, and she is adjusting much better than I am. I also have a son who turned 17 yesterday and is planning to follow in his father's and his grandfather's footsteps and plans to leave for bootcamp next year following graduation, and a 15 year old, who will be 16 in July, and plans to leave for college the summer after that....Even then, my nest won't truly be empty as I have a three year old who will turn 4 next Monday, and I am my father's primary caregiver. I knew that it would be hard to watch the oldest go, I just didn't know how hard until she was driving away.... I sure hope it get easier! Thank you for your time in reading this hub, your kind words, and the follow! They are much appreciated. Thanks again!


allexia26 profile image

allexia26 5 years ago

awe that was so beautiful, I got three little ones myself, and I wonder how I will feel when it is time for them to leave the nest


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ allexia26 - It is an absolutely bittersweet moment. Treasure your moments with your children when they are small, every one is a blessing, and you can never get them back!


jami l. pereira 5 years ago

beautifully written tribute to your daughter , thanks for the read :) voted up and beautiful !


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@jami l. pereira - I apologize for the delay in this reply, my father has been ill, and caring for him has kept me away from my computer and from hub pages for some time now. Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, and for your comments, they are always welcome and appreciated here!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota

Dear Kristen-did you have to get me all teary eyed? LOL This is such an incredibly beautiful tribute poem to your sweet grown up-baby girl. I can't imagine how hard it is to let your little bird out of the nest. My sis and I have a few more years and are already freaking out. I sure hope your daughter brings this poem with here, along with the key. Lots of love my friend. Linda R


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@minnetonka Twin - It's been a little over a year now since Ashley and her family got in that truck and drove away, and I am happy to report that they are well and thriving and also that we here at home have managed to survive the trauma of her departure! Now we face my son's leaving as we await his departure date for boot camp, and next summer we will be saying good-bye to our middle daughter, as she graduates from high school and leaves for college. Lucky for me, I still have our youngest at home, and she will be here for quite sometime, she started kindergarten yesterday! Thank you for the gift of your time and for your gracious comments, they are all so very welcome and deeply appreciated!

Kristen


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota

My goodness~I can't believe you have a little kindergartener too. You are one busy mom. I'm glad not all the birdies are gone and you'll have one for years to come. It's amazing how much our kids mean to us and the impact they make on our lives. I am glad to hear Ashley and family is thriving and your getting through all these life changes.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

All of my life writing has come second to only one thing, and that was being a mom. When I was a kid, I mothered everything and everyone in sight, and then of course when the kids (not just mine, my nieces, my nephews, my god-children, etc.) started arriving....well, that was what all of my practice was for. The last 23 years have been an incredible journey, and I have been blessed with some really great kids, (not only mine, but all of the extras as well.), even so, I am almost looking forward now to really only having just the one to focus on... of course no one really believes me, not my husband, my sister, my best-friends, or my children; when we were dropping Jami off at school yesterday, I said somethin about this to my husband, who laughingly replied;, "Who are you kidding? Our nest will never be empty, You'll find someone else's kids who need love or attention or something, and you'll adopt them too. " A


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota

It's obviously a God given mission for you. I can relate to that so mucn. I think you know that I am helping my twin sister raise her two teens. I also have been very involved in raising my other nieces and nephews. I never felt the emptiness that some women feel that don't bear their own children. All children need role models and love and I have tried to be that, especially with my siblings children. You don't even have to be a birth mother to be a mom. I have been blessed being a part of my nieces/nephews lives. We are surely kindred spirits when it comes to parenting.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Minnetonka Twin - Yes, we most definitiely are blessed. In a Facebook message to my son and my "other" children who were graduating this past June I wrote; "It has been an honor and privilege to watch each of you grow into the amazing people that you have become. Thank you for allowing us to come along on the journey...." They bless our lives every day with the lessons that they don't even know that they are teaching... When you are involved in the life of a child, you are most definitely blessed.

Kristen


QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 4 years ago

No matter how high you may fiy

Or how far you may roam,

If ever you need it

You've a key in your pocket

Your key to home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nothing in the world can replicate a mother's love. You have phrased this so beautifully.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@QydsiaP1 - Thank you for the gift of your time, and for your generous comments, both are welcomed and deeply appreciated.

Kristen


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

My son recently moved out so this is so poignant, got a tear there! lol! beautiful, and voted up! cheers nell


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Nell Rose - Hi Nell;

Letting go of our grown-up children is so difficult, especially since in our hearts they are still just babies! Our oldest is really our niece, and even though we new that it was coming, it was so much harder than I thought that it would be. Now, we are getting ready to say good-bye to our son who will be off to the Navy here shortly, and today he asked me to "please not cry." when he goes... I told him that I would try, but don't count on it!

Thank you for the gift of your time, and for your comments, they are very welcomed and deeply appreciated.

Kristen


Angela Scott 19 months ago

Thank you for sharing this poem. My 21 year old daughter recently married and is going to be moving across the country. As a mother I never thought about this day that I would have to let her go although I know it is the right thing to do it is painful.

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