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Release My Grip. A Mother's Prayer for College Drop-off

A Mother's Prayer

Lord have mercy—it’s the night before we take our son to college.

This is his last night in the bed that he’s slept in for the past 18 years.

Release me from lurking around his bedroom, but I just need to tuck him in one last time. (And release me from my urge to crawl into bed with him because that would be super-weird.)

The car is packed, and the gas tank is full. Everything seems to be ready for a smooth departure tomorrow.

Release me from frantically running around the house in the morning like a crazed lunatic, looking for something I will be certain I’ve lost—because it’ll probably just be my mind. (Right now "leaving" and "losing" feels like the same thing.)

Our  parking permit is in hand and the residence hall move-in time is confirmed.

Release me from feeling overwhelmed by the crowds and chaos of a thousand parents and students  lugging around box fans and crates of bedding. (And please release the elevator from it’s ridiculous crawl, because I’m NOT walking up eight flights of stairs with a mini-fridge.)

We’ll get him all moved in and unpacked.

Release me from being an over-controlling, over-bearing “nester” who obsesses about storage space and knick-knack placement. (But Lord let me make his bed, I NEED TO MAKE THAT BED!)

We’ll probably wander the campus a bit, maybe grab a bite to eat and stop by the bookstore.

Release me from the urge in a moment of weakness from buying every coffee mug, bumper sticker, and clothing garments that say “MSU Mom.”

And then it will be time for me to leave. Without him, because he is staying there.

Oh Lord, release me from the overwhelming grief I’m feeling right now, and replace it with hope and excitement for his new life.

Help me put one foot in front of the other and release my tears AFTER I make it to the car so I can ugly-cry on my steering wheel instead of making a scene in public.

Release me from being heartbroken if I don’t hear from him as often as I'd like. (And help me  figure out Snapchat so I can stalk him on social media.)

Release me from worrying about things beyond my control—like falling off his loft bed, fraternity hazing, contracting meningitis, his refusal to use an umbrella, natural disasters, cult abduction and poor choices—and remind me that despite the inevitable challenges he’ll face that you’re directing his path.

Release me from feeling like motherhood is over and help me to find meaningful ways to stay connected and deepen my relationship with my son in this new season.

Release my grip when I hug him one last time and I don’t want to let go, and remind me I’ve raised a young man who’s ready to spread his wings.

Oh…and one more thing, Lord:  

Hold me tightly in your peace and comfort tomorrow, as I release him to you.

...even though he’s always been yours.

Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.


 

Written by Kami Gilmour, mom of 5 teen and young adult kids. (releasing her grip on her son at college drop-off day in the photo.) She's the author of a best-selling devotional book for parents of college students that offers helpful encouragement and faith-filled perspectives for surviving and thriving in this season:  Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent's Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly.


 

 

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Showing 134 comments
  • PATTI
    Reply

    I remember this as though it was yesterday, when it was really 6 years ago. I remember her nudging me towards the car so she could go meet her orientation group while I just wanted to hold her a little longer. But most of all I remember pulling out of the parking lot and seeing another freshman girl, clinging to her parents and sobbing uncontrollably. And being thankful that my girl was ready to try her wings instead of crying.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      THAT would kill me! My daughter (now a college senior) was a “nudger” at freshmen drop off…she actually walked us to the parking lot and opened the car door! But just recently she told me that she went back to her dorm room, found the letter I’d stuck under her pillow, and cried for an hour. I’m glad I didn’t see it happen!

      • Dayna
        Reply

        My son too is heading to Montana state next week. Thank you for putting the words in my head on paper. It is so good to know I am not the only one with the thoughts. See you on move in day. I am volunteering too. 12-2 near Yellowstone.

        • Johanna
          Reply

          We’re here at MSU, leaving our first college-son at Roskie in…oh, about 7 hours.

          • Kami Gilmour

            Hi Dayna! Hope drop off went smoothly! Our move-in to Roskie last year was nuts! Everyone was building their loft bed with wood on the front lawn (including us.) Seemed a bit chaotic! I wonder if they finally changed that policy where you could build your loft bed instead of renting one? FYI–my son (now a sophomore living off campus) adores MSU! He joined Intervarsity Christian Fellowship last year and really enjoyed it!

    • Pam
      Reply

      This past Wednesday morning came quicker than any other morning. Packed and ready to go. Excited to go and get there and yes ( make that bed ) organized and put everything away. As he went off to dinner with the soccer team we found ourselves just wondering around campus. But I did get to see him one last time walking with his team. Cried the whole way home into the night and have been for the last 4 days. Each day gets better but very hard to swallow. I hear the struggles in his voice. But I stay very positive when talking to him. And hold back my emotion.
      I love reading what others are going through
      So thank you all for your posts

      • Michelle
        Reply

        Sort of the same thing for me. I was excited to get there and get her dorm set up and then off she went for her first team meeting (soccer also). I never imagined I would feel such a loss; it is very difficult. And like you, I don’t let on and she has no idea. I just want her to be happy.

      • Susan
        Reply

        Exact same for me! I cried the whole way home and still break down when people ask me “how’s it going without him around”. I hate being in my empty house. I also “hear” the struggle in his texts. The first night he texted and said he wasn’t feeling 100% (nervous stomach). Even though that is normal, I felt horrible. I know he will settle in and things will get better if not become great, but it is still hard. I was not ready for the end of a part of my life – didn’t want that part to end. I am not ready to find that “new normal” that everyone talks about. I assume I will be at some point. It is nice to know we all are not alone.

      • kim
        Reply

        Thanks. I’m glad it’s not just me.

  • Elizabeth Kirk
    Reply

    Thank you for this….tomorrow is our son’s move-in day and we are excited and nervous but know God works for all the good. Gave me peace of mind for tonight so I can do the move in the morning.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Prayers, Elizabeth! Looks like today is the big day!

  • Amy Smith
    Reply

    Wow! I just dropped my son off to college, and this spoke straight to my heart. Thank you! (PS I was weak, I bought the shirt ;))

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      HA!!! You know the college bookstores LOVE us weepy parents! (I’m sure I’ll still buy a cartload of stuff!)

    • Jennifer C
      Reply

      You’re not alone. I bought the shirt, the bumper sticker and the Christmas ornament.

      • kim
        Reply

        me too

      • Patti
        Reply

        Mom mug, tshirt, magnet and window cling!!

  • Jessica Heyneman
    Reply

    THIS is spot on…gulp ?

  • Elizabeth
    Reply

    I cried when I read this my oldest is leaving soon

  • Carolyn Marshall
    Reply

    Thank you
    I’ll be reading and re reading this
    Your blogs are valuable
    I am glad I found your site

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Thanks, Carolyn! It’s great to pour my heart out during these years and know I’m not alone…and not crazy! We’ve got a tribe!

  • Paula
    Reply

    I’ll be going thru this next week. With my daughter. She’ll only be an hour away, but, still. I welled with in the store yesterday during our college shopping trip. She felt bad, and I don’t want her to feel bad. I have to release up to the heavens for strength!
    Thanks for a great article. I’ll be sharing it, for I have lots of other Moms who will be going thru it too. One with twins heading in different directions!

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      As hard as this is, I can’t even imagine saying goodbye to twins…and heading in different directions! I heard from one mom who has five kids–the last three are triplets and they are ALL leaving for college this week in different directions. I. Can’t. Even. Breathe. For. Her.

      Praying for you next week, Paula, and for all of the moms, dads, siblings, grandparents and loved ones who’s hearts are being stretched during this leaving part. We will survive–but I can’t imagine how hard this would be if I didn’t rely on God to get me through it!

  • Terry
    Reply

    Last one of three is leaving in a week. Thought it would get easier, nope it is harder. Thanks for a great prayer, I will be using it next week. Lord protect my children! Thanks!

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      I’m already dreading when my last one leaves. That will be the hardest, I think! So glad God is with our kids when we can’t be!

      • Aracelis Williams
        Reply

        This is soooooo good ! This is two, too soon years for me and I’m already crying ! I thought when he went through chemo that drained by tear ducts but this will surpass it!

  • Carrie Fortner
    Reply

    We’re en route to the University of Central Oklahoma right now … via IH-35 North from Austin. The next 36 hours will be bittersweet. <3

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      safe travels!! Savor the hours!

    • LM Stovall
      Reply

      Hi Carrie we moved two into UCO. My heart breaks for us but I’m super happy and proud for them.

  • Peggy Palomaki
    Reply

    This brought back all the memories starting in 2005 when we dropped off our first son. We now have 3 boys successfully through college and gainfully employed and our first grandchild on the way. I still cry thinking about that first drop off and how I would like a little more time but then again so blessed to have 3 outstanding young men.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Love this! This is the stuff that I look forward to and that helps get me through this season of transition. 🙂

    • Anne
      Reply

      August 2006…our home would never be the same again when we left our almost 18 year old son at his dorm. I sobbed for a week, and It brings tears to my eyes even now! For me it was a little easier with my younger son. Having dogs to love has helped!

  • Erin Caplan Bernhard
    Reply

    I survived those endless days and nights prior to that move as well as the duration of all 4 years of countless thoughts and prayers for both my son and for me to endure the ever changes and challenges of my baby going to college. He graduated with honors and now works in a Fortune 500 business. Just like the memories embedded in my heart and mind of bringing this young man into the world I will never forget the day I watched him walk away and for me to have to say “see you later, I love you” Bittersweet is all I can say as well as thank you God and continue to love him and be his guidance. ❤️

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Amen!!!

      • Linda
        Reply

        It’s been 20+ years & this still makes me cry reading it! I remember going to the grocery & passing over the favorite foods I wouldn’t be buying & crying again. It’s hard again when they come home holidays & leave again! But it does get easier I promise! Thank you for a wonderful prayer!

  • Ranouy
    Reply

    Thank you for this. Especially the last part – to remember to remember, that God has them now and will guide them forth.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Yes, Ranouy! It’s the truth that has gotten me through all of this!

  • Meredith Sinclair
    Reply

    I have an incoming freshmen boy at MSU this year and I think I’m in some kind of major denial! I keep thinking he’s ready, he’s excited, I’ll see him in October and he’s still coming home all summer. It’s all good! I think I’m in for a rude awakening come next Friday:).

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Hi Meredith! Another MSU mom! What dorm is your son in?

      • Cynthia Kovac
        Reply

        Hi Meredith and Kami….I will be dropping my freshman off at MSU as well …the tears come and go even now.

  • VeldaW
    Reply

    Well unlike you ladies (or so I say today) I will not be sobbing and clinging. I can’t wait to bring mine on Friday to TJC so he can stop hanging his 218pound body all over me and eating me out of house and home. It’s time that he spread his wings.
    ( tune in Saturday when I let you all know if I am successful in a dry drop off or if I have to report that I bumped into the minivan ahead of me because I couldn’t quite judge the stopping distance through my wet soggy eyes ?).?

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Love this! 🙂

  • Amanda Swanson
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing. We did the drop off last week! The dog I gave my son for his 5th birthday passed away unexpectedly less than a week before move-in day, so my house is too empty! This is just so hard! My son is tired and worn out (football player), homesick, and grieving for his puppy do– he wants to come home…I am encouraging him and telling him he can make it thru, when I really want to say “Yes, come back home now!”

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Oh Amanda!!!! I can only imagine how tough this is…with an empty house and a son who is homesick. My advice (for both of you) is to take one day at a time, find something that you can share as a “high” in your day, and try to keep looking forward instead of looking backwards. I’ll be praying for you both as you navigate this transition!

      • Tami Manchester
        Reply

        Often universities and colleges give help through counseling with homesickness as well. I just read about it in my daughter’s college packet. They understand it’s a very normal and common thing that happens to most kids at some point.

    • Maureen Middlebrooks
      Reply

      I’m just reading this now, and was wondering how you all are doing. What a heart breaking time it must have been. I’m sobbing over my 14 1/2 yr old dog my daughter (only child) rescued from a parking lot in 1st grade, and now she’s going into her 2nd year of college (Earlham) and is headed for Ecuafor in 12 days for a semester abroad. I won’t be seeing her for 4 months, and I’m so anxious and weepy. I’m also afraid that our Scruffy may pass while she’s away, and I can’t even go there…..

  • Cecilia
    Reply

    Thank you for this prayer. So glad I’m not alone. I did everything in this prayer including buying my coveted university mom shirt. Wore it proudly home while I cried & hubby cracked jokes to distract me.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      I know I’ll buy the shirt. I can’t not buy the shirt.

      • Jennifer
        Reply

        Go ahead and buy the shirt, mom.

  • Claudia Callaway
    Reply

    I loved what you’ve written and related to every word after leaving our daughter at college last week for the first time. I was fine before the day, but have been having a hard time sleeping at night since then. I lie awake thinking of all the things I wish I had said to her, worrying about things that will never happen, etc. This link below from another blog has a metaphor that also helped ease my mind a bit and hopefully will help others too – we just have to remember that HE’s got this! I’m praying for my child, but also praying for peace and comfort for ALL the moms and dads out there who had to let their baby fly…
    https://bridgechristian.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/putting-the-basket-in-the-water-trusting-god-in-the-next-phase-of-your-childs-life/

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Thank you, Claudia! Love the post you linked to!!!

    • Diane
      Reply

      The “basket in the water” reading got me through my daughter’s drop off. Helped me remember that she is not alone because God has a plan for her.

  • Karen
    Reply

    Thank you for your blog and all the comments. It’s always nice to know your not the only one. I drop my oldest off at SEU Labor day weekend. Excited for her and what God has planned for her but it really is a grieving process. It’s the end of a season of life that I truly enjoyed.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      You’re not alone! (it’s truly nice to know that, right?) And as a mom of 5 (2 who are now married adults, 1 a senior in college, 1 a soon-to-be college freshmen, and a high school junior) I can assure you that the passing of seasons is always tough–that transition of seeing what we’re losing before we can grasp the fullness of the next season. BUT–I’ve personally found the new season of parenting young adults to be so awesome! It’s rewarding, and deeply satisfying to continue to guide my adult kids when they ask for it, but freeing to not have all of the responsibility and worry as a parent of teenagers!

  • Paula strong
    Reply

    Thank you for this! This was me last weekend including “ugly crying” on my steering wheel. Man this is hard! I so miss my baby girl – even her rolling eyes. ?

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Right there with you!

  • Lori
    Reply

    My daughter goes to college in PA..we lived in Iowa..i cried all the way through PA and Ohio on the way home and them some more..she is starting yeast number three now and i still miss her bunches…but glad she is doing great and making her own way in life. I’m proud of her

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Hang in there, Lori! You’re not alone! (and the fact that she is doing great means you’ve done your job well! Parenting isn’t over–it’s just a new season!)

  • Gloworm
    Reply

    We moved our one and only son into his dorm just this past Sunday at the University of Iowa. Nothing could have prepared me for just how chaotic and exhausting this day was. We arrived at our noon check in time and got his room set up to his liking. It was approaching 5:00 when a couple of the RA”s came by and asked if he wanted to go to eat dinner with them and he agreed to, so we decided this would be a good time for our departure. I was not ready to leave but knew we should. After a few rounds of hugs from me and more advice from Dad we made our way down the hall to the elevator, I was was teary eyed but got into the elevator before really losing it. We got to our car and drove around the block and just by chance I got to see him coming out with the other guys heading to dinner. It was wonderful to see his happy smiling face! Our 3 hour drive home was not so bad. The worst part was arriving home to the empty stall in the garage where his car would normally be and the house was so quiet, and not in a good way.I The last 48 hours have been up and down, some moments i feel like I can not breathe, and the tears just come because the milk is not gone, his last shorts and t-shirt in the laundry basket, no bursting into the kitchen to ask “whats for dinner” . Right now there is no way I could even go into his room! I know tomorrow will be better and each day after that and only possible with Gods help!. Thank -you for letting me ramble on here , this is a grieving process!

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      I loved what you’ve shared (I’m actually crying as I type this response), and I think it helps all of us to hear the process of adjusting and the triggers that cause tears. You aren’t alone, and you aren’t crazy. I’m super-sappy about the exact things you mentioned! It’s the remnants of my son (or the obviously emptiness of his chair at the dinner table, his bedroom, etc) that grip my throat and give me the “can’t breathe” moments. It DOES get better as you adjust to a new normal. And leaning on God and realizing He yearns for HIS kids (all of us–even moms–we are all HIS children) just the way we yearn for our kids helps me deepen my relationship and connection to His love even more.

      • Lori
        Reply

        Wow… this made me cry too! You honestly just never know what it is that will be a trigger. I live in Maine with my 3 boys, and my oldest is about to start his sophomore year at school in Pennsylvania. When I left him last year, I fully expected to be a mess, but much to my surprise, I was not. The drive home was without tears. I couldn’t believe it! Pulled into my driveway…. different story. It’s a new normal that definitely takes some getting used to. As happy as I am for my son, I see him inching away further and further with each passing year. I can’t let myself think about him graduating and moving away. Will have to deal with that when it happens. Just yesterday he got his first car, so it’s a whole new set of worries. Every time he drives back and forth to Pennsylvania, I’m sure I’ll be a mess. I’m going with him this year just to make sure that he gets there alright…. I don’t think he’s probably paid super close attention to the directions LOL!

      • Jennifer R
        Reply

        Yes, the remnants. Man, they caught me off guard…and brought me to tears. The last few pieces of laundry that were overlooked, a pair of shoes and his favorite flannel transformers flat sheet. I have them all in a bag and plan on sending them along with some of his favorite foods next week. (yes, even the transformers sheet) LOL

    • Suzie
      Reply

      Your letter could have been written by me!! I was fine on the way home, but when I saw his empty, unmade bed, I sobbed. He’s my one and only, too, and it was hard to let him go. But he is loving his college experience, which makes me happy. He’s only 35 minutes away from me so brings laundry home. I now smile at his smelly running shirts, where before I would cringe!! So silly what makes me smile about him!!

  • Elizabeth
    Reply

    To my mothering friends in my country of America: Ladies you are choking your adult kids.
    You should have been letting go little by little a long time ago; and having fun along the way with your husband, and/or maybe getting your career/education started for yourself again. And rule #1: Stop paying their way all the way to 30 something, because they will never grow up.
    The reason our kids in America are so slow to mature via the European kids are because of “Controlling Mothers.”

    LET GO ALREADY AND WE MIGHT HAVE A FUTURE ADULT SOCIETY ABLE TO STAND ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET, INSTEAD OF DOING EVERYTHING FOR THEM AND WITH THEM. LET THEM FIGURE IT OUT AND YOU WILL BE SURPRISED HOW FAST THEY FLY ON THEIR OWN.
    EMBRACE YOUR HUSBAND FOR HEAVENS SAKE, YOU’VE NEGLECTED HIM FOR FAR TOO MANY YEARS!

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts, because I recognize not everyone is always on the same page, and that’s OK. I’m not sure what stage of motherhood you’re currently in–perhaps you’ve successfully launched your kids, or maybe they’re still little. Or maybe you don’t have kids. For me to assume any of these things would be presumptuous and judgmental, which I believe is MUCH more of a problem in adult society (in America, and anywhere else.)

      I agree with your point that raising healthy adults requires them to stand on their own two feet and not do everything for them. And in some families (yes, America is a country that seems to be on the radar for this), this is an issue.

      But the irony of your comment is that the grief that I (and thousands of others) are feeling stems from recognizing this truth that it’s time for kids to fly away and knowing that this college departure means the ultimate in LETTING GO and a radical change in parenthood. (even as we’ve been letting them go along the way–this is a major step) It’s bittersweet. And it’s OK to have the feelings and emotions that come with this milestone–they are not “actions” of restraining our kids, but rather the emotional byproduct of releasing them. Grieving the transition is normal and healthy, and doesn’t mean a mother is controlling, jobless, uneducated or neglectful of her husband.

      I think what’s most important to remember is that LIFE IS HARD. Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. “Adulting” is hard. In the hardness of it all we need to seek to understand and encourage one another instead of judging or shaming them. Compassion and camaraderie create a much richer canvas for positive growth than condemnation. A lot of what I’ve learned about parenting has come from my relationships with other mothers who’ve gone before me. We’re not all the same, and we don’t always have the same parenting approaches or beliefs, but there is value in community where we can be transparent about our triumphs and struggles so that we can lean on and learn from one another.

      Cheers!

      • Sherri
        Reply

        Awesome response! I just learned so much because I was……….. Thank you for your AWESOME response!!?

      • Kat
        Reply

        perfection – thank you

      • Becky
        Reply

        Thank you for that wonderful response. I work at a university and have worked with those young adults spreading their wings. Although my son is a rising high school senior and is looking at schools now I know I will buy the shirt of where he decides to go, and I am sure have the bumper sticker on it as well! It doesn’t mean I haven’t been letting go, bit by bit, it just means I won’t see him every day and be able to hear about school or practice or even watch him compete at all his meets like I can now. Please be a bit understanding. Oh, and back in 1981 when my parents dropped me off my mom cried too.

  • Andrea R
    Reply

    I’m dreading that day, but I know it’s creeping and will be here before I blink. Tonight, I hugged a little boy on the eve of fourth grade, wondering where the time went.
    http://kentuckymom2twinsandmore.blogspot.com/

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Savor every moment! You’re wise to recognize the years go fast!

  • Melissa Gilbetson
    Reply

    What a fantastic prayer! We will be driving out freshman at MSU from Minnesota to Bozeman next week! If add -“release me from the urge to drive 15 hours unannounced to “surprise” him in a weekend”

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      YAY! another MSU mama! (What dorm is your son in? Maybe I’ll bump into you when I ugly-cry myself out the door!) This is the first time I’ll have a kid in college that’s not just an hour away (MSU is about 10 for me) so this certainly will be a big adjustment! There was always comfort in knowing I could pop in and take my kids to lunch or dinner, or that they would occasionally come home for a weekend of rest and home cooking. Safe travels to you and your family next week!

      • Melissa Gilbertson
        Reply

        Kami,
        He will be in Yellowstone. Engineering student- how about your son? I have to laugh I did buy a “bedazzled” mom shirt on clearance and threatened to wear it on move-in day just to embarrass him. I am not a bedazzled gal….. He was not amused

        • Kami Gilmour
          Reply

          I’m loving the bedazzled shirt threat! My son is in Roskie (we weren’t on the ball enough to make the Yellowstone list!!) We’re moving in next Wednesday–along with the lumber to construct our loft bed. (seriously, I thought they were joking about plans for a loft bed, but I learned that for certain dorms it is indeed true!) I’m going to post a live-video to the SoulFeed Facebook page of the loft-building attempt. (my son is not amused about this plan of live-video plan, so we’ll see how the day goes!)

          • Melissa Gilbertson

            That is awesome! I will like the page and check out the live video. We move in Brightand early on Wednesday morning 8 AM. How great would it be for all the MSU parents to meet up for a coffee break!

          • Kami Gilmour

            It would be fun to meet up! We move in at noon…Not sure what the day will bring outside of that! (besides me crying a lot)

  • Lynn
    Reply

    I am in the very same boat. My oldest daughter leaves for college next week too. People keep saying “She will only be 5 hours away,” but to me it seems like the end of the world. I try to remind myself that she is living her dream. I think back to 1984 when my mother (who had lost her husband 11 years prior) had to say good-bye to all three of her children within the span of 4/5 months. My brother moved 7 hours away, my sister got married and moved one town over, and I moved 3 hours away to college. She had to be the strongest person back then and I never even knew how much she must have been hurting. I hope she is watching down on me from heaven and passes on some of her strength so I can make it thru this time in my life. I have two other children (15 and 12), so at least I am no totally alone.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Hang in there, Lynn! It sounds like your mom has left a powerful legacy of love and strength that can help guide you! And I’m glad you’ll have some spacing through these years to release your kiddos one at a time! Nothing could be harder than all of them leaving at once!

  • Elizabeth Molosky
    Reply

    The Angels at Sewanee, The University of the South, must have known I needed to read your post! I’m dropping my first born son off in the morning. I’ve been dreading this day…even though I know this is the best thing for him! God will always watch over ” my baby”!

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Prayers for your drop-off, Elizabeth! God is with your son, even when you can’t be! Hang onto that–it’s helped me a lot with the release!

  • Lisa
    Reply

    This was nice to read. My heart has been heavy and yet my girl can’t wait to be rid of us lol. I will worry that she makes good choices and successfully completes yr. 1 in college. I know with God all things are possible.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      I can totally relate, Lisa! In the same boat, and glad to know that God is still by our kids’ side in these years!

  • Jean
    Reply

    I could hardly see the print through my tears….she leaves in a day. It was like you read my mind while writing this :'(

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Prayers for your heart–you’ll make it, and so will she!

  • pat
    Reply

    Releasing your grip by starting a company to stay in their business? Get a life.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Hi Pat–
      Since you opened the door to this conversation, I’d love to share a bit about my “life” and the story behind SoulFeed Care Packages (the product I created–it’s not a “company” but actually part of a ministry organization that I’ve been with for 20 years). There is a whole back-story about a particular event in my daughter’s college experience that inspired me to create SoulFeed, but it’s too long to share here. It’s something I’ll be posting about one of these days…

      BUT–to clarify a misconception that you have: SoulFeed care packages are not designed with the intention to “stay in their business.” In fact–the exact OPPOSITE is true. As a mother of 5–three who’ve been through college–I realized through years of experience that an important part of their young adult growth and independence came from finding a way to consistently and appropriately offer support and encouragement without being directive, controlling or over-involved. My goal as a Christian mom is to raise kids who DON’T depend on me, but that I help guide them when/where needed and encourage them to explore an authentic life & faith of their own and learn to navigate the challenges of these years with ever-growing spiritual maturity that points them to God.

      It’s tough–especially when kids leave for college–for parents to find ways to continue to offer appropriate guidance and nourish our kids’ spiritual growth without appearing as a preachy, rigid overbearing parent.

      SoulFeed gives parents a consistent tool that provides the welcomed encouragement our kids still need and appreciate (snacks & surprises and the joy of a care package). But most importantly, it gives students four simple reflections (based on research-backed issues college kids face) that don’t tell kids WHAT to think–but rather encourages them to think/ponder, reflect, and dig deeper to explore issues and grow in their resilience, understanding and maturity of life, the world, and Jesus. It’s about giving students space to question and wrestle with life and faith during the college years with the ultimate goal of allowing them to own and grow a relationship with God and develop an authentic faith that is their own–not something their parents “tell” them they “should” do.

      So that’s that. (sorry for rambling, but as you can tell I’m passionate about SoulFeed and the reason behind it.)

    • Becky
      Reply

      Pat, I am sorry your parents never sent you a care package. They mean the world to students. The school I work at encourages parents to send care packages to their students with their favorite snacks and other trinkets around exam time. A box of homemade cookies can go a long way in improving moral- and making friends 🙂 A care package does not mean “your in their business” it means you are thinking of them and supporting them. My grandmother used to send me care packages of homemade treats, unfortunately my roommate never got anything from her family. Needless to say she felt bad and even resorted to eating my cookies with out asking! Prayers for you.

  • Len
    Reply

    Hard on Dad’s too! Drop our only son off Monday . . . thought it would be a piece of cake. Wrong!!

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      You’re right, Len! Dads do feel this too. My son’s dad is actually having a harder time than I am!

  • Jessica
    Reply

    We dropped of our son Wednesday, August 10th. He moved in early due to band camp.
    This prayer is spot on for sure. I cried reading it until I came to the part of making the bed… I told my son, “At least, let me have this one thing. This one thing to know I left you here with the bed made properly by me. You can rip it apart as soon as I leave, but at least let me make it for my sanity.” Lol!
    He stayed alone that night and didn’t get much sleep, but he survived.. Better yet, I survived.

    Thank you for this right on prayer. I needed it today.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Thanks, Jessica! I’m not sure what it is about making their bed–it’s like the final curtain-call of our nesting instinct. I’ve told my kids the same thing–just let me do this for my sanity! (and I think there is comfort in knowing that first night they’re on their own that their bed was made with love.)

  • Adele
    Reply

    Kami – I’ll watch for you as you “ugly cry” at your steering wheel at MSU. I, too, leave my son there – releasing him as he begin a new adventure. God is good, and places us just where He needs us.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Hey Adele! I’m hearing from a few of us MSU mamas! I wish we could gather in the parking lot for a cry-fest! (but aren’t you so excited about our kids starting an adventure at a school like MSU–I love it so much there I wish I was a student!!!)

  • Melanie
    Reply

    Great read. Moving our son into his dorm on Saturday, but he’ll still be with us Saturday night as we have event Saturday evening. So, we’ll see how I am when he leaves on Sunday; but I agree with the above…ready for him to spread his wings and quit eating us out of house and home! LOL

  • Tina Bonner-Henry
    Reply

    Hi! As I’m writing this we are in the car driving from North Carolina to drop our oldest off for his freshmen year at Cornell University in upstate NY…yes 11 hours from home(Jesus help me). So, I was that weird parent last night…yes, I climbed into bed with him last night, held and slept with him. I had too…I just simply had too…it made my Heart full. As I reading this and writing this, the tears I can’t stop…thank God only his dad can see me. I just love this little guy so much and I know in my Heart that the Lord’s hands rest ever so gently on his shoulders and I pray that he will forever guide his steps. He is truly a GREAT KID…LORD, please don’t let this crazy world change that. In Jesus name Amen!

    Thanks for this post and a special thank you to my girlfriend for forwarding it to me!

    Putting him in Jesus Hands!??

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Amen! Ditto Ditto Ditto!!!!! Your words are so beautiful and true–and echo in the hearts of all of us! Thank you for sharing your heart with us, Tina. Prayers for you to be filled with God’s peace as you release your son. God is with him, and you…

    • Sherri
      Reply

      Yes!!! I’m not the only mom who did that!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Janet R
    Reply

    Thank you for sharing those same thoughts that I’ve had all week. I DID think about curling up in bed with him just 1 last time, but as you said…that would be super weird. I did more ugly crying all this week, than I did today in public…Thank goodness. I think what I will miss the most is his sense of humor and interaction with me around the house.

  • Laura Iles
    Reply

    He wouldn’t even let me make the bed! Told us we had a long drive. That one really got me. He didn’t have any problem with me making it for the last 18 years.

  • Jonnie Helfrich
    Reply

    I, too, will be dropping off my freshman at Montana State. My junior drove off this morning for Montana State, Billings. Thirteen and 15 hours from home, from Mom. At least they picked beautiful places to visit.

  • Randi
    Reply

    Wonderfully written and gee thanks, I am bawling right now!

    Exactly two years ago, i left my baby girl at her dorm at UNCW. I took a great picture of her to post, wrote amusing stories about the unloading process on Facebook, and then waved goodbye after a few clinging hugs and tears on her part because she was leaving her Mom behind.

    I made it ten miles down the road before I had to pull over because I could no longer see said road! And then had 22 hours of driving home while remembering every moment of her life – and crying all the way!

    So love and hugs, you WILL make it through the day and whatever you do, DO NOT play “ready, set, go” by Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus unless you are alone and have a box of Kleenex but DO play it and realize you have raised a son who is now “ready to spread his wings” and he couldn’t have done it without you!

  • Regina
    Reply

    We are also taking our freshman son off to college on Friday. So excited for what the LORD has in store, yet I can’t help but feel saddened as this changes the dynamic of our whole family. Father, give each of us the grace( moms especially) to handle these changes well.

  • Lisa F
    Reply

    This was me this last week. I did the countdown and the last of (last night in his bed, last homemade meal, last of the laundry). He is 30 hours away. We rented an RV and drove to Minnesota. I have cancer, it was a challenge to make the trip. I did the weird thing and snuggled my baby one last time. I did the ugly crying. I helped put his room together. I cried and cried at the hotel that night. The next night we had dinner and the following morning we brought him breakfast for the last time. It was a very long drive home and I was crazy with grief. Every mile away from him was agony. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy and proud of him, but this is about maternal grief that just penetrates my very soul. These first few days at home without him are agony. His noises, the door slamming, the refrigerator, the “what’s for dinner”, the sound of his blender for protein shakes. There’s no way I can go in his room yet. Thank you for sharing. All of you. I feel a little more normal. God help me.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Hey Lisa–Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey! I can’t begin to imagine going through this process while battling cancer at the same time. You are a true warrior to make the sacred journey to drop off your son. Hearing your story (and some of the other folks situations) helps me understand that I am not only the only one, but that other families are experiencing this with compounded challenges beyond mine. You’re on my heart and in my prayers this morning.

      “Heavenly father–I’m lifting up Lisa this morning, and ask if you’d overwhelm her with your love and comfort. Remind her that she is your child too, and you yearn with love for her just as she yearns with love for her son. Please give her healing strength and the whole family a peace that passes understanding, as you walk beside them every step of the way.–In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen”

  • Carol
    Reply

    My son was a 2008 graduate from high school and left for college in August 2008. The day he had to be there happened to by 8/16 my birthday! We were packed and when I say packed I mean a box truck filled with everything. We were also moving as well. No real reason for me to be so emotional right? My only child heading off to college as a freshman, moving from a home that had been ours for so many years and it was my birthday. Oh yes, I had just started a new job in a state where I new no one! I woke up that morning and decided I wasn’t go to cry and nor was I going to say “Good bye.” Yes, those last few minutes were strange but I said to him ” I’ll see you on Wednesday for your game.” That felt so much better than “good bye.” I had a date in my head to see him and I knew I wasn’t going to miss that game! So, people have asked how I did it with an only child and sending him off to under grad and graduate school without flat out losing it? I have told many “do NOT say good bye. Say, I will see you on ____whatever that date is that you are going to see them say it.” It made my life so much easier and others have said thank you so much for sharing that with me. It worked. I was much better. Now, let’s not talk about when he would come home and then leave. For some reason, it never got easier when he would head back to college after a break. Now that sucked for me.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      Carol–what wonderful advice!!!! I completely agree–saying “I’ll see you when we come to visit in October” (that’s my plan for my son!) is so much better than the “goodbye.”
      Thanks for sharing! Other parent’s wisdom is how we learn best!!!

  • Danielle Neary
    Reply

    I so appreciated this honest blend of perspective and humor! It really resonated with me as a read it — and even more so when I saw MSU!! My son, Sean, will be in Freshman Apartments. He is so excited for this new chapter in his life, and I just keep reminding myself to look at the adventure ahead through his eyes, not mine. Like you, this is not my first time but it is the biggest distance (36 hour drive, if we’re ever crazy enough to not fly; my two older sons are in college within state, my youngest son is a junior in high school). Thanks to you, ugly-cry has now become part of my vocabulary and I will embrace it with the strength garnered from knowing that other moms are walking the same journey. Thanks for this reminder to Let Go, Let God. P.S. If you hear someone laughing out loud at the MSU Mom rack in the bookstore, it may be me!

  • Lori Rowland
    Reply

    This prayer made me feel so much better. I left my only daughter at college today and even though my heart is breaking and I can’t stop crying I know God has her in his arms

  • Vickie
    Reply

    Thank you so much for this. I’m sitting here crying because I am putting pictures in a frame for me to give to my first college student who is moving in tomorrow too. He got an apartment and I have been stressing about getting everything. I feel like
    he is moving out, but I know he’ll be back. I also pray that we have done all were should have in these years that we have had him to teach him and be the example he needs to be the person God has designed him to be. Thank you for the prayer.

  • Lisa Dickson
    Reply

    Thank you ever so much for this prayer. I too have a son going to MSU this fall (Yellowstone Hall). In fact, our car is packed and we leave early tomorrow morning for the 19 hour drive from Wisconsin. I am cherishing these last few days with him and the whole time I have a lump in my throat. I will be rereading your post often in the days and weeks to come as my husband and I adjust to our empty nest. He is our last one to leave home. Releasing my grip on him Wednesday is going to be extremely hard but it’s comforting to know I am not alone during this bittersweet time. Thank you again and best wishes to your son for a great start at MSU!

  • Kelly
    Reply

    Just dropped off my oldest son at colege. It was so hard because he interacted so much with me and we talked all the time . It didn’t help that he really didn’t want to go either but he got a scholarship to play a sport so he went. He was a home body who chose to hang at our house wth his friends instead of going out. Always was asking me if he could help do anything and what I had planned before he made plans. W had a very strong connection lol no it wasn’t creepy. When we left him I knew family weekend was only a month away so I concentrated on that weekend and I told him see him in October. It helped with the tears. But now that I’m home I miss him so much. I keep waiting for him to pop out of his room wrapped in his blanket and plop down beside me. He is a good boy and I want hm to make friends and have fun but I also want him home. He could actually get his degree at the community college near us but he is playing a sport which he loves and is good at. It’s like I lost my best friend.

    • Michelle
      Reply

      I am sobbing reading what you wrote because this seems to describe my daughter to a ‘t’. She and I are so close and I feel like I have lost my best friend. Everything, even going to the grocery store, makes me think of her and miss her – I have cried for 4 days now. She plays a soccer and left early for preseason. I said to myself the other day “I just wish she could move back home and go to the state university down the road from us.” I pray that she is happy. She says she is but I hope she isn’t covering up so that she doesn’t upset me. She has no idea how sad I am and I don’t want her to know because I want her to be happy.

      • Kelly
        Reply

        Michelle, I still really miss my son but we have face timed several times now and seeing him sure helps. Not sure if you are able to do that, I guess it’s an iPhone thing. He is in good spirits and doing ok. Hang in there.

      • Maggie
        Reply

        I know how you feel tomorrow I will take my daughter to college and lose my best friend. I have been crying for a few days and I know tomorrow will be hard. I pray that God gives strength to you and all of the parents going through this.

  • Cynthia D.
    Reply

    I just found this blog Thank you for the ministering you do. This brings back sweet teary memories! 28 yrs ago wow! That’s when & how I learned the truth of my favorite phrase for that era ” God is the God of our children” & sometimes i still cling to it even though they are grown.

  • Jo
    Reply

    Dropped our younger son off last week. Had him read this the night before we left. He asked “Is the tank full?” I wasn’t strong, I did the ugly cry as I watched him walk away. Two girls saw me and one asked the other “Why didn’t my Mom cry when they left?” I told her “Oh honey, she did, believe me!!” Our older son came home (his college is much closer) and I freeked him out, hugged him and burst into tears. Husband said he gave him the “what the heck” look. Love my boys!!!

  • Suzanne
    Reply

    Thanks Kami for putting into words what I felt last week as I dropped my son off at college. My husband was in another stated driving our older daughter to her college. It was just me and God… letting go one last time. The heavens decided to open up and rain hard all of my drive home. It made me feel like my heavenly Father was crying with me…and understood. The tears had to wait until I got home so I could keep my eyes on the road.

  • dawn
    Reply

    Thank you for helping me not feel so alone. I thought I was the only one who was heartbroken. It seems so silly but I so wanted to make his bed and he did not want me to. This is a hard thing letting go but I’m proud to say I didn’t cry when I was there , I stood back and let him do it and I left way way too early. Now I sit at home realizing one of my 5 is on his own and I’m so very proud of him yet I miss him already.

  • Nonnie
    Reply

    I’m a Nonnie. That’s Grandma. I’m in tears reading all your sweet love messages. Feeling so blessed that so many Christian Moms are seeking comfort and sharing their love with each other. We struggle, so often, alone when we truly Never are alone! God has placed us each one right where we are supposed to be. Your hearts and values are going with your child. Into the world, to a place He has prepared for us all. What you are feeling is a sense of not knowing what He has in mind for you or your child next. You have fought the good fight. Now. Breath, and let Him make it known to you. He will not fail you or your precious child. Prayers going out to all who have waited in car pool lines, picked up sick kids, helped with home work, gone without to make sure they have what they need. Your big hearts and giving Souls still have purpose and can and will serve Him.

  • Jennifer R
    Reply

    This was me last weekend, dropping off my one and only child to college. I can relate to every single detail, right down to the Snap Chat comment. I actually figured that, Instagram and Finsta out…Im now a bonafide stalker! (and im ok with that)
    I knew it wouldn’t be easy and Noah reminding me almost everyday of exactly how “not” easy it would be, didn’t help. He would make comments on how Ive had 18 years to prepare myself and “Mom, you knew this was coming”. I did know, but I guess I thought if I put in the back of my mind, it just wouldn’t happen! Like a diet. LOL
    For the last week before his departure I kept myself busy making lists, planning and spending what seemed like a million dollars at Bed Bath and Beyond. I lost it only twice. Once in Kohls while picking out sheets and then at the Dollar Tree buying extra hangers. Noah was right there to hug me and tell me it was going to be alright, I was going to be alright.
    But little did he know, I wasn’t alright. I was the furthest thing from alright. I felt like I was losing him and losing me in the process. I was a mess.
    His school is a 3 hour trip from our home. (I know, I know it could be worse) With each mile the more excited he got and the worse that pain in the pit of my stomach felt.
    I helped him unpack, and though he wanted to make his own bed I was allowed to setup his bathroom. I don’t think they will ever quite understand why, we as mom’s need to do it. The comfort it brings us, fulfilling that desperate feeling of being needed when we are right there on the ledge. It did help. I cant say that I didn’t cry when I left, I did. I cant say that I don’t cry when I walk into his room. I do. But yesterday he called me and the first thing he said was “Hi, Mama..I need your help”. And I smiled.

  • pam charnigo
    Reply

    Thank you for putting into words what my heart has been saying for weeks. He is my only child,and I have been reliving moments in his life all summer. Thursday is move in day for us,and I pray every night that God lets him spread his wings,soar, and succeed. Keep a good thought for us,and a prayer or two. Thank you for this <3

  • Katherine Waters-Clark
    Reply

    This week, I dropped off my twin daughters (and only children) for their freshman years. One is 4 hours away, one is 20 minutes away. Both move-ins went well, and by “well” I mean I did not dissolve into a puddle of sobs, I did not act on my desire to clutch them to me. I’ve been doing enough of that for an entire year! And so today I’m home. They are not. They are both gone. They live somewhere else. They are not at my table having tea and bickering, they are not in their beds sleeping way too late, they are not taking up all the room on the couch. they are not coming in and going out of my house. Oh I have lots to do, a business to run, workouts to do, friends to see, my list is long. But here I sit at my empty table, longing for them to be here. Yes I will let them spread their wings, of course. But I will do so while missing them deep in my heart and my soul.

  • Carol Satran
    Reply

    This hit the nail on the head. Two years ago my son wanted to move into the dorm on his own, deep down I was hoping at the last minute he would say mom you can move me…didn’t happen. 🙁 Last year my daughter went off to college (She had wanted to go to MSU but then changed her mind) and I got to help her which helped a lot but I was still a mess when I had to drive home. I’m happy to say we all survived and it’s much easier now. They don’t come home as often as I would like them too, but luckily we have great technology to FaceTime, I text them both Good Morning and good night. As they get older the social media posts decline but I still look for any updates.
    Good luck to all the parents and the new freshmen! Have a great year.

  • Sandra
    Reply

    Thank you for this! Today is the “day before” for me – I will be praying your prayer a few times in the next 24 hours!!

  • EllenOwens
    Reply

    Grandma is also experiencing the same feelings and tearing up .when I think about the last wonderful 18 years. This is exactly the future we want for him, but at the same timeI my heart aches❤️

  • Linda
    Reply

    Thank you for your message! Was not prepared for it to hit so hard as a grandma! It was so hard as a mom, and now here it comes again with her son! Whoof! So thankful I Know this is what the Lord has for him and he will only be 5 plus hours away( she was about 20 hrs away). Thanking God for the gift of prayer !

  • Elizabeth
    Reply

    Glad to have found this discussion. We’ll be dropping off our twin girls in a week. They happen to end up in the same college, but are not rooming together. I’ve done a lot of crying in the shower, on the way to work and on the way home from work. I keep trying to focus on the fact that their time has come to test their wings. I try to focus on embracing this next phase of their lives. 😢

  • Monica H
    Reply

    Is it a bad sign if my son is only a senior in high school this year and I’m already reading these things and crying uncontrollably?

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      I hear ya! Dropped off son for sophomore year at college yesterday and handled it OK, but then I lost it this morning when taking the last first day of school photo with my son as he begins his senior year of high school! Hang in there, mama! Just savor these moments and be in the present! Don’t let the future haunt you! 🙂 (the dread of goodbye is worse than the actual act!)

  • Amy
    Reply

    Of course I cried while reading all of this….we just took our last of 3 sons off to college for the first time this week. This one is different..my baby. As I read this, I could not help but laugh at the paragraph regarding unpacking of the nicknacks and MAKING THE BED! Of course I unpacked and when I started to make his bed, he said “mom, I’ll do that later” and I said “no. I have to make the bed. I made your brothers’ beds, and I need to make your bed””…Why is that I wonder? All I know is, it never gets better even if you have 20 kids…my husband and I are now empty nesters and I just pray to God we don’t kill each other! haha!

    • Kami Gilmour
      Reply

      oh Amy! I’ll be in your shoes next year when we drop off our last of 5! I’m trying to wrap my head around the empty-nesting thing. I’m partly thrilled, and partly heartbroken at the thought! But my oldest (stepdaughter) is married with two darling sons (ages 6 and 3) and lives 30 minutes away, so our house is still filled with toys and chaos when they pop in for Sunday dinners! Blessings to you and your family!

  • Jenni Kimler
    Reply

    That is exactly like I felt.
    I did buy the cheesy t-shirt because I like to say, “yes my daughter is in this college”. I’m proud of her and want to show it. We left my daughter this past Saturday at Coe College in Iowa. We live in Utah.

  • Rosemary Gavin
    Reply

    Wow….So many of us can relate! Four years ago I dropped my youngest son off to college 1200 miles away from us in Iowa. He stayed out there working at the university three out of the last four summers (last year he came home and worked in catering with me <3) and now he is teaching in Nebraska, probably never coming back east to live near us again. Every time I see him, and he leaves for 5+ months, I go through this over again. I feel sick a few days before he leaves, and a few days after like someone just cut out my heart. But I tell myself that if we didn't do a good job planting his roots, he'd never have tested those wings and flown so far in confidence that he is loved. Your children know they are loved too. That's why they miss you too. Someday they will have to live without us permanently, so we need to make sure they are confident in life and also know how to love others so they can give what they have received. Hang in there mommas of the world! Form groups of women together who can love and support each other like this blog. Be women warriors of love to the world….that is how we are wired so jump in and give it all!

  • LMU
    Reply

    My son just moved to Bozeman as well — 20 hours away from Illinois! He changed majors and is attending Montana Bible College. The doors of opportunities God has opened has reinforced my assurance that Levi is exactly where God wants him. It’s so hard to let go but he is ready to follow God’s lead. Prayers for every mom letting go.

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