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This past weekend we did something that I had been dreading, at least on some level, since the moment I became a mom: we moved the first of our three boys into his college dorm room. Moving kids to college? Really? Already? Yep. Really.

moving kids to collegeStanding in that room, making it home for him, was one of the most surreal things I’ve ever experienced. Surreal and weird.

Definitely weird.

It’s funny how something that is supposed to be so natural can feel like the most unnatural thing ever. How am I supposed to shut off this mom mode thing that is completely ingrained in me?

I’ll let you know when I figure that out.

It was evident pretty early that Harrison was going to be independent, and he is. I’ll never forget when, at 3-years-old, he asked me how old you had to be to drive a car. He was completely crushed to learn he’d have to wait another 13 years, convinced in his own mind that 5 was the magic age when all the good stuff happened.

I remember looking at that little spiky-haired blondie and wondering how in the world I’d ever be able to handle watching him pull out of our driveway on his own.

And now here we are, well past the newness of driving, having weathered middle school and high school and all that comes with those stages. Now we’re moving kids to college, and he’s off on his own, ready to conquer the world. Or his corner of it, at least.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking back on the parts of parenting that scared me, knowing that there is no way I would have ever gotten through them without God’s presence. The way I’ve felt Him right beside me has been the sweetest gift, especially these past few weeks as we prepared to move Harrison out of state.

There’s no question – God gives us exactly what we need to handle each hard thing set before us, at exactly the time we need it.

It’s impossible in our own strength, and I’m learning that the second I take my eyes off Him I fall back into my old unhealthy habits (worry, doubt, and control, to name a few).

I often question if I did all I could to make Harrison ready.

There’s a mental checklist that runs through my head regarding laundry, how to make his bed, if he can change a flat tire (he can), if he’ll remember to add some veggies and fruit to his plate at mealtimes, clean up after himself, etc. etc. etc.

Then there are even thoughts of what happens after college; research indicates many younger generations are coming back home. It can make your head spin.

Moving kids to college forces a ton of questions.

Did we teach him to depend on the Lord in all things? Will he stay in the habit of going to church and spending time with Him each day?

Will he miss us?

All of that doubt can quickly spin out of control, and when it happens, I have to stop myself and remember that God Himself is enough. He covers all the places I fall short. Every. Single. One.

Here lately, He keeps reminding me of a favorite promise:

​Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. Isaiah 43:1

I am His. Harrison is His. His grace and patience and peace cover a multitude of doubt and heartache.

Since I’m currently walking through this and leaning on friends who have gone before me for wisdom and encouragement, I have in no way figured out a recipe for handling it perfectly.

If you’re about to be in the stage where you are moving kids to college, here’s what I’m learning. Maybe it can help you a bit.

Do whatever you need to do to make your child’s home away from home as comfortable as possible.

That’s not necessarily easy in a dorm setting, but still it is feasible. For me, that meant ordering a nice, thick gel-infused mattress topper, washing his bedding in our familiar laundry detergent and fabric softener (so it smells like home).

Printing pictures of family and friends for his bulletin board. Making sure he was well-stocked on his favorite snacks. Planning for some epic care packages.

Figure out something you can say to Jesus when you feel sad/overwhelmed.

For me, it goes something like, “He is Yours, God. I trust You .” I can promise you that these two sentences are on a mental repeat. Thankfully, He is forever patient and kind through each of our transitions.

Remember that “normal” will return.

A wise woman told me to give myself 4 weeks and then I will be okay. I’m counting on that to be true.

Before long, our family of five will adjust to this new normal.

With his wings already spread out, Harrison will flourish and grow. His dad, brothers, and I will get used to him not being here all the time, and soak up every second of the days he is home to visit. And just as we are getting used to all of this change, it’ll be time for Hud to start making his plans. {*sigh}

That’s how it works – if we do this parenting thing right and our kids are comfortable enough to leave us, we’ve done our job well. They’re not ours to keep, but to teach how to soar on their own. It hurts because part of our hearts are with each of them, and it just doesn’t feel right, but I assure you it is.

And it’s going to be okay. I’m counting on it.


About the Author: Jaclyn Hatcher is a writer and curator of the blog Confessions Of A Misfit Minister’s Wife.