My daughter, fresh and sparkling like a newly opened bottle of champagne continues to have the glow and effervescence from celebrating her 18th birthday. She sleeps in the room across from mine, her eyes closed, her skin radiant like early morning dew. Mornings, when her door is ajar, I sneak a peek at how she looks while she sleeps. Sometimes, I can only see her head, the rest of her body nestled in her blanket. Once in a while, she sleeps on her back, with her arms straight back, resting on her pillow, a position she used to sleep in as a baby. I look at her peaceful face and shut the door, ever so quietly, behind me.
I keep track of the number of days left before she heads to her first year of college. I gulp and turn my face away so she doesn’t see me start to cry. She does not appreciate open displays of emotion, it makes her feel uncomfortable. My “baby”, my blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty, is going away to college, far away. Last year, I drove her brother to his first day at college and I didn’t think it would be that hard again but it is, maybe it’s worse.
“Don’t go” I want to scream out loud and carry on, hysterically and out of control, but I know I can’t do that. I can’t show her how I really feel. This job as “mom” takes on new heights, it is as difficult for me to hide my feelings as it is for my daughter to show hers but I will fake it, for her. You have to do what is right for your child, not you. The tears sting inside me, my head aches from my effort not to break down in tears but this what parenting is all about. Parenting becomes a whole new paradigm.
We spent a lot of time together this summer and there seemed to be a shift in our relationship, it was warmer, easier, less complicated. Why couldn’t we be fighting now so the leaving wouldn’t be so painful? I am thrilled she is going to a good school and I hope she will be very happy there but I admit, it will be so quiet in our house without her brother and her. I understand that my sadness is entirely selfish.
On the other hand, my husband and I will have more time for each other. We are finally and officially “empty-nesters” though I despise that term. Recently, after our first dog died of cancer I adopted a puppy so our nest will still have a dog to make some noise, to give us kisses. Of course, it was not a coincidence. When I fell in love with a small, reddish-brown puppy at the animal shelter I knew I had to give her a home. I named her Lexi.
To my daughter: I love you with all my heart and soul and I will miss you terribly. I’m glad that you are going to college and I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. But, I will miss watching “Friends” with you. I will miss your honey blonde hair wrapped casually but perfectly in a top bun, your keen sense of humor, our veggie burgers eaten together and even your endless love for clothes shopping. This summer was one of the nicest we’ve had together and I hold it and you in my heart forever. Just remember, if you need me, I will always be there for you. Love you always, Mom