Reese Witherspoon Opens Up About How She Dealt With Daughter Ava Going To College: ‘It’s Hard’

Reese Witherspoon and her daughter, Ava Phillippe, pose together as they attend the 2018 LA Dance Project Gala.
Vivien Killilea / Getty Images for L.A. Dance Project

Having a child leave for college is a hard adjustment no matter who you are. As Reese Witherspoon’s eldest child, Ava Phillippe, gets ready to return from her first year, Us Weekly reported that the star is opening up about how she dealt with her daughter leaving home.

“It’s weird when your children go away to college. It’s hard,” the 43-year-old explained during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Monday, May 20. “I never imagined how it felt for my mom. I might have gone into her empty room, laid down on her bed and cried when she went to college.”

Fortunately, Ava will be returning home soon for summer break — a path that Reese herself didn’t follow.

“I went to college for one year and then I started making movies and I moved to L.A. and I never came back,” the Whiskey in a Teacup author explained to Ellen DeGeneres. “Sorry, mom. My poor mom.”

According to the actress, her mom, Betty Reese, was hoping that she would follow in the footsteps of her father — an ear, nose, and throat surgeon — and find a career in the medical field, specifically as a plastic surgeon. When she made the decision to drop out of college after just one year, her mother wasn’t exactly happy about it.

“She was mad about it for probably ten years, but then I bought her a house and she got over it,” the Big Little Lies star said. “At a certain point, it turned into a better deal.”

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We get it from my Mama. #3Generations #Vogue

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Reese is also mom to Deacon, 15, and Tennessee, 6, both of whom she explained are also hitting some significant milestones in their education. Deacon is preparing to finish up his first year of high school, while Tennessee just had his first year of kindergarten.

But despite the fact that her three children are growing up so fast, and Ava even being out of the house at college, that does not mean that Reese is looking to grow her family. The star also addressed a recent tabloid report that she and her pal Jennifer Garner were both expecting new additions to their families. Reese quickly shut down the rumor, and instead poked fun at the idea that she and Jennifer — who live fairly close to each other — could raise their babies together.

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And while Reese has seen headlines like this a number of times throughout her illustrious career, she explained that she learned very quickly not to address them. The actress recalled seeing a similar story early on in her career and asking her attorney to address it with the magazine, as the story could have affected the movie she had been working on.

“The next week they printed ‘not pregnant, just bloated,'” she explained, laughing about the memory. “So then I learned to ignore it.”