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Reese Witherspoon Says Daughter Ava Going to College Felt Like ‘an Arrow in the Heart’

Looking back. Reese Witherspoon reflected on her now-20-year-old daughter, Ava Phillippe, leaving for college in 2018.

Related: Reese Witherspoon's Most Relatable Quotes About Her 3 Kids

“It’s so difficult to articulate what motherhood means, and there are so many passages in [Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng] that did,” the actress, 44, who is starring in the Hulu adaptation of the 2017 novel, told Emmy Magazine on Monday, March 23.

The Whiskey in a Teacup author went on to recite, “’It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.’ [That’s] such a vivid way to describe the loss of your children as they grow up. My daughter was applying for college back then, so it hit me like an arrow in the heart.”

Ava Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon Going to College
Ava Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon attend the season two premiere for ‘Big Little Lies’ on May 29, 2019 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

Related: 8 Times Reese Witherspoon and Ava Philippe Made Us Do a Double Take

The Big Little Lies alum previously spoke about the difficult time she had with Ava’s departure in May 2019, telling Ellen DeGeneres: “It’s weird when your children go away to college. It’s hard. 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.”

The Golden Globe winner added at the time: “It’s OK, she’s coming back. I thought she would be gone. I never came back. I went to college for one year and then I started making movies and I moved to L.A. and I never came back. Sorry, Mom. My poor mom.”

Witherspoon and her daughter are “best friends [who] just love being together,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively in June 2018.

“Reese and Ava talk several times a day and they go to each other for everything. [Ava] has learned so much by being with her mom and traveling the world with her,” the insider went on to tell Us.

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The Louisiana native welcomed Ava in 1999 with Ryan Phillippe, followed by their now-16-year-old son, Deacon, four years later. Following her 2006 split from the actor, 45, the Oscar winner went on to marry talent agent Jim Toth and give birth to their son, Tennessee, now 7.

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