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I should be helping my oldest son pack for college, but instead, I am making lists of what I ought to be doing while compulsively eating through another son’s bag of Hi-Chew candy.

In just a few days, I will caravan with my oldest boy into Logan and leave him at a dorm at Utah State. We’ve been looking forward to this time for years, and yet we are wildly unprepared. I am the grown-up in this scenario, but I feel very much like a college freshman myself.

“He moves to Logan next week,” I commented to my husband, who wondered about the purchases of text books and extra housekeeping items arriving in the mail.

“Wow, so soon?” he replied.

“Do you mean, like, you thought the semester started in September, or, like, you can’t believe he is old enough not to need us to rock him to sleep?” I said.

My husband and I stared at each other for a moment, suddenly feeling wistful.

“Both,” he said. “That came fast.”

While I will actively resist becoming the kind of misty-eyed grandma lady who admonishes exhausted new moms to “cherish every moment!” — because, let’s be real, not every moment of child-rearing is worth cherishing — my husband is right. This transition came fast.

A couple weeks ago, I tried to channel some of my anxiety over launching my first-born into young adulthood during a global pandemic into helping him gather the supplies he needs to move out of his childhood bedroom. He is looking forward to his new adventure, but he was not exactly helpful.

“Let’s see,” I said, looking at the list of suggested dorm supplies. “We need to get you a shower caddy.”

“A shower caddy?” he said. “Is that like a guy who carries my shampoo and high-fives me when I get out? Seems extra.”

So, apologies to my kid’s roommates if he leaves his shower supplies all over the bathroom counter. It’s not because he doesn’t have a shower caddy, it’s because he’s still learning how to use it.

There’s a lot he’s still learning. Being the oldest of five children has taught him a lot about interpersonal relationships and making dinner fast, but he’ll need to learn more about time management, study skills and how to use a top sheet.

In my angst about his leaving home, I keep peppering my conversations with him with reminders, both necessary and not.

“Remember, you need to do laundry at least once a week,” I mention.

“Make sure you eat a fruit and a vegetable at every meal,” I suggest.

“In case you are confused, it is important to me and your father that you not smoke or vape,” I tell him. “Your health and happiness are our sole motivation.”

“I know, I know,” he replies patiently. “I have every intention of wearing clean clothes, eating greens and avoiding tobacco. I’m not confused. I know how you feel. I will remember.”

Then remember this, too, dear boy: The Savior has everything handled. That may be something you think you already know, but time and experience will allow you to know it better and deeper than you can currently imagine. Every disappointment, every mistake you wish you could undo, every season of overwhelm — He understands and will guide you through. This, I know.

The Savior will also allow you to see the best in people, and inspire you to be kind even when you don’t have to be. His infinite generosity brings you peace and relief. It also sets you free to extend an echo of that generosity to everyone you encounter. You’ll never be sorry. This, I know.

We will soon load up the car with all my son’s stuff and a fresh bag of candy. We’ll head down the road, nervously hoping for the best. There’s a lot to learn, but I think he knows the most important things.

Contact Sally at ordinarywitness@hotmail.com

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