When I was younger, I remember my mom telling me that one day I would move out of the house and find my own way in life–without her. I would cry whenever she would say this because, at the time, I couldn’t understand any possible scenario where I would want to leave my parents. I loved them and I loved our house. I was confused as to why my mom was so confident one day it wouldn’t be enough for me. She knew that she’d be an empty-nester because someday, I would want to move out, get a job, fall in love, and even start a family of my own. 

Now, I’m 21 years old and about to graduate from college. The harsh reality of life will be thrown at me, and I will have to find a job and start providing for myself, just like my mom told me.

Besides leaving my familiar home and my family, my biggest fear is that I won’t be able to take care of myself in the way my mom took care of me.

Sometimes, it feels like my mom knows me better than I know myself. If I’m feeling down, her sixth mom-sense will kick in, and she’ll text me asking if I’m doing alright. Moms really do always know best. 

Related: These parents’ empty nesters photo shoot has gone viral (and it’s the best thing ever)

She always tells me that being a mom was the best thing that ever happened to her, and she gets sad because she feels like that part of her life is over. But to me, she will always be my mom, and she will always be the person that knows how to take care of me best. 

Between my mom’s impending empty-nester doom and me being forced to grow up, both of us feel like there is a door that is closing in our lives. We’ve talked about what needs to happen in order for me to move out–like making sure the job I find will be able to pay for an apartment–and reality just seems to be crashing into us faster than we could have expected. My parents have always been clear that if things get difficult, I can always find a home with them. 

Change is scary, and sometimes I wish I could stay a little girl forever. 

But if I do that, I can’t experience the best thing that ever happened to my mom–becoming a mom myself. I can only hope that one day, I can be the mom that my mom is and always will be. The kind of mom that always puts her kids first and makes them feel loved no matter what. It may feel like a door is closing, but that just means that another one is opening, and I know that my mom will still be there for me no matter what. 

Related: I’m done having babies, and I wasn’t ready for the grief

To all the mothers out there who are about to become (or already are) empty-nesters, including my own mother, your kids know it’s hard on you, too. We want to leave because it feels as though our lives are officially about to start.

For as long as I’ve known my parents, they have been living away from their parents, with stable jobs, and bills to pay. All I’ve known my whole life, is exactly what my parents showed me. You have given me tools and the strength to live on my own and start a family of my own. It may be scary, but knowing that my parents will always be there for me gives me the confidence to continue. I love you Mom, and please never forget that.