Student Life

Empty Den Syndrome

A Mama Badger blogs about saying good-bye.

There comes a time in every Mama Badger’s life when Baby Badger must leave the den. After eighteen years of bruised knees and brown-bag lunches, it’s time to let go and say good-bye.

But for some parents, it isn’t so easy. Watching a child make the transition from high school to college can be a nerve-racking journey.

With hopes of making a smooth transition, one UW alumna and parent of a first-year UW student is sharing her personal story through a blog, posted on the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Web site since fall 2008. Throughout the 2008–09 academic year, “Mama Badger Blogger” has been sharing her roller-coaster ride through a series of postings titled “Never Been There, Never Done That: Diary of a First-Year Badger Mom.”

Although she isn’t revealing her name to avoid embarrassing her student, Mama Badger wanted to make her somewhat private struggle a very public one.

“I noticed several years ago that other mothers who had sent their kids off to college were essentially in mourning throughout September and even October,” she describes. “It didn’t seem to matter whether the child was the first, last, or only; they were all having such a hard time with the very real losses that they were experiencing.”

Mama Badger not only uses the blog as a form of catharsis for herself, but also as a way for parents to connect and understand that their feelings are not rare. She also shares her blog through the UW’s Parent Program Web site, another great resource she touts for other parents.

“I could have written all of this down in a journal, but I don’t think it would have been nearly the same,” she says. “This added element of sharing it with other parents who are experiencing and feeling the same things, I think, makes a difference somehow.”

Mama Badger’s posts will continue through June 2009, when another first-year Badger parent may take over. “Never Been There,” as well as other blogs, can be found at

Published in the Spring 2009 issue


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