Reese Witherspoon cried in her daughter’s empty room after she went to college

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Reese Witherspoon was a guest on Ellen this week to promote the second season of Big Little Lies, which premieres on June 10th. I can’t believe it’s almost June! They started off joking about the OK! cover that had both Reese and Jennifer Garner pregnant, which they joked about on social media. Jen also talked about it during her Ellen appearance last month. Jen and Reese live a block away from each other and are friends.

Reese is getting the most headlines for her comments on her daughter, Ava, leaving for college last year. She said that she laid on Ava’s bed and cried. Ava is coming home again though, I think Reese means for the summer, and Reese won’t be an empty nester for a while. Her son Deacon, 15, is going into tenth grade and her youngest, Tennessee, six, will be in first grade. Reese also said that her mom wanted her to be a plastic surgeon for some reason and held a grudge for about 10 years after Reese dropped out of college and moved to LA to start her career:

It’s weird when your children go away to college. It’s hard. I never imagined how it felt for my mom. I may have gone into [Ava’s] empty room, laid down on her bed and cried. It’s ok, she’s coming back.

I went to college for one year and then I started making movies and moved to LA and never came back. My mom was so mad at me that I dropped out of college because she wanted me to be a plastic surgeon. I don’t know [why]. My dad was an ear, nose and throat surgeon. She was mad at me for about ten years and then I bought her a house and she got over it.

How do you hold a grudge against your kid for ten years for not pursuing the career you picked for them? That’s just awful. It’s not like Reese’s parents paid for eight years of college for that. Also I think I know why Reeses mom wanted her to be a plastic surgeon.

As for Reese crying when her daughter went to college, I am dreading that moment. I don’t know what happened to my high schooler’s childhood, it went by in a blur. Some of my friends have kids who are going to college this fall and I feel so bad for them on a lot of levels. There’s the life change at no longer having your child with you, but also the astronomical tuition. It’s coming up so much sooner than I think.

In the second part of her interview Reese gushed about working with Meryl Streep. She also said she’s open to doing Legally Blonde 3 and that they’re in meetings about it. I forgot about Legally Blonde 2, which happened in 2003. Elle goes to Washington to stop animal testing or something. I don’t even think I saw that one.

Here’s that interview!

Also there was this bit where Ellen said Jennifer Aniston was better friends with her than Reese and then Ellen called Aniston and got her to confirm that. It was silly, so this is what Reese posted in response:

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Someone found the Golden Egg! #HappyEaster 🐰🐣🐇

A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on

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43 Responses to “Reese Witherspoon cried in her daughter’s empty room after she went to college”

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  1. Ira says:

    Ava is very beautiful. Prettier than Reese I would say. What does Ava take in college? Is she planning to work in show business too?

    • Lena says:

      After watching the interview the way Reese said “she’s coming back” and how “I never went back” it sounds like she went away to college for one year but is coming back to LA for either school or to start her instagram influencer/modeling/acting career like other star offspring.

  2. Tate says:

    My daughter turned 16 today. It is crazy how it flies by. I know it is my job to be strong when it is time for her to go off to college. And I will be. But no doubt it is emotional.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      I barely contained myself when our oldest went to college. Now my twins are leaving in three short months. I will be sad, but I anticipate it will also be freeing- I’ll get to pursue my own interests and be finished with the daily routine.

      I’ll probably lay on their beds and cry, too.

  3. Jessica says:

    My mom is pissed I won’t go to law school or work in politics when I’ve repeatedly rejected both career paths. She constantly brings it up and won’t let it go. I will never do this to my children.

    • Annaloo. says:

      My mother didn’t speak to me for years when I changed from Pre-med to Art


      • Amaryis says:

        I feel your pain, Annaloo.
        If your mom is a decent person she will eventually come around, especially when she sees you happy & successful in your career.
        If she’s dysfunctional & selfish (like my mother) she will not come around. But she is the kind of person who is never happy or satisfied with anything, so I learned a long time ago to not expect approval from her but also not to even need her approval.
        It’s freeing to be at that point.

  4. Seraphina says:

    I remember telling my oldest, as we drive by the elementary school: baby, that’s where you will go to kindergarten and now he will be driving. It goes by so quick. I read a celebrity dad once said: the days are long but the years are short. And I had just had my oldest. And that was so true. At the time I was like, WITW??? And as each year they get older, the days get shorter too. 😩

  5. FredsMother says:

    My daughter is 5. I love when she goes to school. All Day. Every day. I love her the most when she is sweetly sleeping. She is told daily that she must leave home and go to college at 16. My husband is threatening to go to college with her. Am fine with that. As long as they take the dog with them. When that event happens I will throw me a tea party in her room. #collegewasinventedformothers

    Reese’s daughter looks so much like her. Reese looks very good for whatever her age and I like that, you know what I mean? #noklingonforehead

    • Trillian says:

      Ahahahaha I came here to write that about my son. He 15 and a half and many days I am more than ready for him to leave for studying. Right now I don’t even know if he’ll make the grades or if we could find him an affordable place to live, but a girl can dream. And I love him so much, he’s my firstborn, but he’s also very much of a teenager at the moment. So yeah, no crying here.

    • Dani says:

      HA I feel that way about my almost 6 year old! She, my husand, and the youngest are all free to go asap. I don’t mind missing them.

  6. SamC says:

    Friend of mine’s father cut off all financial support and barely spoke to her for over a decade when her sophomore year of school decided pursue her doctorate in psychology instead of his plan for her to become a medical doctor. She’s a successful, well respected academic in the field, far surpassed his career (he’s also in academia) and while the relationship has been mostly repaired, he will STILL bring it up on occasion.

  7. Lucy2 says:

    I can’t believe her daughter is in college already, I feel so old! Hope she’s doing well there.

  8. Lizzie says:

    i like that even when you’re a multi millionaire film mogul your kitchen still has an ugly pen jar with random medicine next to it and the edge of your kitchen table top is chewed to hell…

  9. Chaine says:

    The snapshot of the two sons together is so sweet!

    • Ash says:

      +1 as soon as I saw these pics, I thought to myself what gorgeous children. I can’t believe how much her son with Ryan Phillippe looks like the best of both of them and Tennessee is a cutie pie. I have a 1 year old and he very well may be my only child and I will be a blubbering fool of a mess if he decides to go away to college.

  10. CharliePenn says:

    I’m having a hard time dealing with the fact that my first born will be in all-day kindergarten this fall. He’s a sweet mama’s boy type of sensitive, artistic homebody. I can’t believe he will spend so much of each day away from me and from home.
    It must really depend on the kid sometimes though. I see parents above commenting that they are ready for their child to spread those wings. My toddler daughter is so outgoing, indipendent for her little age, and READY for life outside our home. I am actually starting her in preschool a year earlier than I had planned just because I think she’s very ready, and she’s the type that gets bored at home with mama despite my best efforts lol.

    Those of you who’s kids are headed to college soon, I SALUTE YOU! You did it! It must be very hard. But maybe take it as a chance to make a larger life change that you’ve been considering? Travel more? Take up a new hobby? I’ll be doubling down on my art when my son goes to kindergarten and my daughter is in morning preschool , for monetary gain and also just because I’ll need the distraction more than ever!

  11. The Crumpled Horn says:

    OMG this is true!! My 18 year old left a month ago and I went into his room and lay on his bed and found an exercise book sitting next to his bedside table.

    Honest I swear I have NEVER snooped on my kids EVER but today gentle reader I did.

    In his book I read how he loved me so much and he wished he wasn’t always so rude and mean to me and how he was so lucky to have a mum like me and how smoking weed made him so down and angry and lazy and all these different thoughts and poetry etc

    We’d had a bad couple of years of fighting, slamming doors, threats to leave all through senior years so reading this made me sob like a baby for at leasts a couple of hours, lying right there on his bed.

    Parenthood huh? What a triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip.

  12. Amaryis says: is still kinda pissed that I went to art school rather than become a school teacher like everyone else in the family.
    She refused to visit me all the years I was in college, even when other family members were coming to visit & offered that she could ride along with them.
    I had scholarships & paid for the rest myself, so why the hell shouldn’t I be able to study what I want?
    I don’t regret it all because college was an amazing experience, it was the beginning of the best years of my life.
    My mom is a dysfunctional person so she was gonna be difficult regardless.

  13. Esmom says:

    Holy crap does her little one look exactly like her! Wow. Her other kids look more like Ryan, imo. All very good looking.

    My oldest went to college last fall and I was surprisingly ok. He’s where he needs to be and that somehow gave me a sense of peace. Of course I miss his face and laugh at times but I feel like it wouldn’t be good for either of us to lament his absence too much.

    I don’t miss the huge grocery bills, which have skyrocketed again now that he’s home for the summer. (He is one kid who is getting very penny out of the university dining plan.) My local Trader Joe’s staff even picked up on the fact that he went away last fall because a couple of them remarked how I wasn’t making my nearly daily trips anymore!

    My younger one leaves for college this fall so I will have a full empty nest. Not sure yet how I feel about that, but his jerky attitude toward me for the past year or so is making the idea of him leaving not that heartbreaking, lol.

    And yeah the cost. It’s enough to make me queasy on an almost daily basis. It makes it hard to be tolerant of less than decent grades because it’s literally thousands of dollars for each one. My older son managed to pick one of the most expensive universities for out of state students out there. Insanity.

    • Carol says:

      My sister’s kids are grown and married now, but I always remember her saying about each senior year, “God in his infinite wisdom plans their behavior and attitude so that the moment they are ready to leave for college, you are ready and happy to see them go!” My oldest graduates in two days, but he has special needs and will still be home. A whole different sense of sadness and stress.

  14. Amaryis says:

    Sidenote: I’m impressed by the amount of people who pay for their kids’ college….it was never even a slight possibility in my family.

    • ME says:

      I’m surprised at how many people’s kids “went off to college”. Does no one go to a College/University in their own home town anymore? If you’re going to stay close to home to go to school then there is no reason to move out at 18. I guess it’s a cultural thing too. In my culture we don’t just expect a kid to move out the minute they turn 18.

  15. Michelle says:

    I will certainly admit that I have cried many, many nights since my kids went off to college. It is very lonely for me since my husband goes to bed at 8:30 and I am a night owl. It’s a hard adjustment when they have been with you their whole life and then they are gone.

  16. Mgsota says:

    My oldest child is about to finish her junior year, so she’ll be graduating 2020… And it’s really starting to make me panic a little bit. The thought of her not being home and possibly never really being home again, except for breaks/summer, is a punch to the gut. And I look forward to when they go away for trips during the summer, etc. freedom! But the thought of this…ugh..

    • Michelle says:

      I have felt your pain. I had waves of nausea over it. I was okay when my oldest left because my daughter was still there, but when it came to her senior year…it was rough. It was hard keeping it together in front of her so she would not see me falling apart. I wish you and your daughter the best. It’s hard but we know it has to be done!

      • Mgsota says:

        Thanks Michelle! I’m excited for her too. We live 20 min from the big university in our state…so I’m kinda hoping she’ll go there 🤞🏻or at least somewhere within a couple hour drive. I’m trying to bribe her by saying, I’ll do your laundry and make you homemade spaghetti and meatballs once a week. Lol.
        I’m an only child and my mom was a single mother…I don’t know how she handled it so well, but she did.

  17. Vizia says:

    A friend’s father, who was a lawyer, coerced my friend into going to law school even though he wanted to be an actor. On the day he graduated he walked back off the stage with his diploma, handed it to his father and said, This is for you”. And then went back to acting school.

  18. 2lazy4username says:

    My daughter graduates from high school this weekend. Her entire childhood is a blur but also crystal clear. She will be living at home for the first two years of college, so I get to “keep” her a little longer.

    But I do know the feeling. When she was 14, she was invited to attend a ballet intensive for five weeks in another state. I flew with her there to get her settled into the dorms, and when I left her, I cried like I’ve never cried before. Back home, I wandered around the house all lost without her, going in to her room and lying on her bed. My husband was all, “She’s NOT DEAD. She’ll be back in a few weeks!” I don’t know if it’s just a dad vs mom kinda thing, but I was a hot mess.

    Four years and A LOT OF ATTITUDE later, I’m ready for her to move on when the time comes. Lol.

  19. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    My oldest will be 29 this year and youngest will be 14. I cry and reminisce all the time. My middle child is on Air Force leave for a couple of weeks, then he’s off again. I actually start crying when they arrive because I know how brief visits are. How stupid is that? I start mourning ends before there are ends!

  20. Lala11_7 says:

    It’s been almost 40 years…and my Mama is STILL mad that I didn’t get an MBA and become a “Titan of Industry…”

    I tell her to put on a cape and be “SUPA MAD”!!!! LOL!

  21. olive says:

    the little boy is very cute – looks just like reese.

  22. Liz says:

    I drove my oldest son to college 4-1/2 hours away, and he picked a fight with me while we were unpacking (this is normal for kids to do, makes it psychologically easier to let go), and I cried the whole way home, not just cause he left for college, but it was not the warm and loving goodbye that I needed.

    My second son, his dad drove him 9 hours away, and I said goodbye to him in the driveway, a little teary but holding it together the best I could. Until they hit the end of the drive and I burst into “ugly” crying, boohooing to the point of “snubs” (yes, I’m southern).

    The third son went to school on his own – his choice. I figure he couldn’t stand to see me go through another goodbye.

  23. Angie says:

    My oldest graduated from high school Sunday and I cannot stop crying. I’m starting to get annoyed with myself. It’s a normal part of life and why am i such a mess?

    • Mgsota says:

      Oh Angie…this will be me next year. 😭

    • JanetDR says:

      Because it will never be the same again.
      I’m not saying the mothering is over, but the part of mothering where you protect them from everything you can, make sure they eating well and privy to all of the day to day details as well as daily hello and goodbyes? That’s over.
      It is part of normal development, but you go on ahead and mourn the of the most intense part of your life!
      Intensely loving, intensely stressful, intensely sleepless, all of it 💗

  24. jen says:

    The part about Aniston and who is better friends was SO dumb. And what was the point, as it only seemed to be good PR for Aniston.

  25. paranormalgirl says:

    I get the double whammy. Twins heading off to college. Boyspawn to USC (yeah, didn’t help him get in) and Girlspawn to Skidmore. Opposite sides of the country. I will be a bit of a mess.