When the girl in this picture was a wee tot I took her to preschool. I held her hand as we walked down the hallway and as soon as she let go and waved ‘bye bye’ I started to cry. I didn’t think she saw me when I teared up, and I know for sure she didn’t see the director comfort me and show me how I could peek into the classroom undetected to see that I had nothing to worry about.
So as certain as I am that she didn’t see me cry that day, she still somehow knew, because on day two as I held her hand and walked her down the hallway to her teacher she looked up at me and said “Mommy, are you going to cry again today?” Of course, you know I did. But on day two I cried because my little baby girl didn’t seem to mind leaving me and that was hard.
Yesterday, when I left her at college, it was just as hard.
And the reason it was hard to leave her two states away in a dorm room, was not because she doesn’t need me, and it wasn’t hard because I’ll miss her. It was hard because she’s so incredibly confident and smart and beautiful and, well, ready. She is ready and I don’t think she’s going to need me at all soon. It makes me wonder if the mama bird who kicks her birdies from the nest feels the pain too. She thinks she’s ready for them to go, but then they fly away and it’s too late to say, “wait, make sure you eat vegetables, and make good choices!” I wonder.
When we were leaving yesterday she let me have a little pow wow with her so I was in fact able to tell her to eat right, make good choices, and go to class, even when you don’t really want to sometimes. We hugged for a long time (I thank her for that), we both got a little teary. and then hugged for a while more. She hugged her sisters and her dad and we all said I love you and then she waved bye bye just like she did all those years ago. She was off to start an exciting journey and we just went home.
So today was her first day there and our first day her without her. When I went up the stairs past her room this morning I noticed from under the door that her light was off. I thought “Hmm, she’s still asleep,” and then I realized she’s not here. I told her sister the story and she said “Funny, I did the same thing.”
Resisting the urge to text her, to call her, to drive two states away and peek in the window like I did when she was little is hard. Yesterday I cried because I handed her off to her new place at her new school and today I cried because she went. Tomorrow will be better and before you know she ‘ll be home arguing with her sisters and making a mess in the kitchen and I’ll have to remember just how much I missed it when she was gone.
And when she returns to college for another term she might say “Mom, are you gonna cry again this time?” And my answer will probably be yes. Of course you know I will.