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You see them wandering through the aisles of Target. They are fairly easy to spot. Their shopping carts full of bedding, towels and mini-refrigerators. They seem slightly stressed, a little irritated, with just a hint of sadness in their eyes as their teenager carelessly tosses another pillow into the cart. 

They are the moms of college kids. And this time of year starts to get a little overwhelming. With three kids in college this year, I am feeling it. I’ve got one moving into an apartment, one moving into a dorm and one who is changing his mind about everything at the last minute. So I might be just a little frazzled. But from the aisles of Target, I can tell that I am not alone in this. This stage of life is not for the weak . . . and this time of year can be stressful, emotional and busy. Tensions are high, kids are moody and life is changing at a rapid rate!

If you are a mom of a college kid, then you might have been nagging your child all summer to take care of . . . 

Immunization forms.

FAFSA updates.

Dorm shopping.

College orientations.

Tuition payments.

Meal plans.

Roommate assignments.

Financial aid forms.

If you are a mom of a college kid, then you might be a ball of emotions . . . a roller coaster of happy, sad, excited, nervous, proud, scared, angry, worried—trying hard to hold it together as move-in day gets closer and closer. Don’t be surprised if your kid feels the same way. 

If you are a mom of a college kid, then you might have several check-lists on your phone of things that need to be done. You text these lists to your college kid and cross your fingers and say a quick prayer that they will actually read them and get it done. You are determined to make them handle this stuff . . . and are pleasantly surprised when they actually do.

If you are a mom of a college kid, then you might be wondering how in the world your child is going to survive on their own at college when some days they can’t even find their own shoes or remember to take out the trash at home??

If you are a mom of a college kid, you might be a little sentimental . . . wondering how these years went by so quickly. Wasn’t it just yesterday your floors were covered with LEGOs and Barbies? Wasn’t it just yesterday you were sending your child off to kindergarten as they were crying and clinging to your leg? How is it they are old enough to move out? How are you already a mid-life Mama with an empty nest? 

If you are a mom of a college kid, you might feel a little lost. This parenting young adults is new territory and you aren’t sure what you are doing because your role is changing. This transitional stage is hard to figure out. No longer can you step in and save the day . . . you have to stand back and watch your child stumble through on their own. And it’s hard. You miss the days of knowing where they are, what they are eating and who their friends are. But you continue pushing them further out of the nest a little more each day because that’s what a college-kid mom has to do . . . love them enough to let them go.

If you are a mom of a college kid, you dread move-in day. It looms like a dark cloud over your head. You dread it because it is an exhausting and emotional day. Move-in day is terribly hard work. It isn’t easy moving your child’s stuff in the heat of summer—no one looks forward to that tiring and sweaty day. But it is also emotionally exhausting, too. That lump forms in your throat and tears spill out of the corners of your eyes just thinking about it. So you add really big sunglasses to your check-list. You don’t want to cry in front of your college kid, and will do your best to wait till you are in the car on your way home.

If you are a mom of a college kid, you worry a lot. About the big stuff . . . tuition bills, frat parties, passing classes, late nights, driving long distances, dating, their future. Praying constantly that they are safe and making good choices.

If you are a mom of a college kid, it might help to get a puppy or a kitten. They will love you unconditionally, never talk back and always be there on those lonely days. 

If you are a mom of a college kid, then your dining room might be a mess . . . stacked with Amazon boxes, dorm decorations and school supplies as you prepare for move-in day. 

If you are a mom of a college kid, your heart might be breaking knowing that your child is leaving in a month. And that’s OK—many of us mid-life mamas feel this way. This stage of life is hard and it’s okay to admit it. You are going to miss seeing your child—even if they drive you crazy. You will dread walking by their empty room and not seeing them sprawled across their bed every day. You will grieve and you will cry and you will feel sad and worried and heartbroken. All normal—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But the good news is . . . you will also feel happy and proud and excited for them. Such a bittersweet mix of emotions—and you wonder how it is possible to feel both heartbroken and thrilled at the same time. But you will survive—because you are stronger than you think—and each day will get a little easier. And I promise that reunion will be sweet and that hug will be the best thing ever when your child comes home for their 1st visit!

If you are a mom of a college kid . . . you are not alone! You raise your sweet babies to leave you, but no one ever told you how hard that would be. And even though you might feel like an emotional, hot mess right now, your heart swells with pride, knowing you did your best at giving your child roots and wings. And although you made so many mistakes, you did the best you could as their mother. You loved, you prayed, you showed up, you cried, you cheered, you encouraged and you were simply there for it all. And thank goodness none of that stops when your child goes to college . . . because a mama’s love never ends no matter how old they get!

Jeremiah 29:11

This article originally appeared on Love, Faith & Chaos

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Heather Duckworth

I am a wife & mother to 5 awesome kids, 4 on earth and 1 in Heaven. From having triplets, to losing a child to cancer, to adopting – I have experienced about every joy, challenge & heartache of motherhood. I often write about family, faith & the crazy chaos that is my life.

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