For years I have known that the day would come…the day that I would take my baby girl, my only daughter, to college. I used to count how many years until the day, then months, and then weeks. Now I’m counting days. I wasn’t sure how I would handle it, but now that it is here, I’m finding that I’m handing it okay. As long as I don’t think of “the lasts.”
For example, at the dinner table last night, when our bowls of chicken fried rice were empty, I gazed around the table at my precious family. And I realized that this was the last time, for a long time, that we would share a meal together in the cheeriness of our kitchen.
Then later in the evening, when we are laying on couches watching the Olympics as a family, another realization of “last” hit me. It was the last time, for a long time, that we would watch TV together in the coziness of our den.
When I was in the bed, and it neared ten o’clock, I knew that very soon she would come to my door, peek her cute little face in the doorway, and tell me good night. It was the last time, for a long time, when my daughter would come and tell her mommy good night.
This is the little girl that I taught how to eat at my dinner table. And the little girl that I snuggled on the couch with while we watched Pride and Prejudice together for the umpteenth time. This is the little girl that I tucked in her bed at night, giving her sweet good night kisses.
She’s a woman now, but to me, she’s still that little girl.
Today I am taking this girl turned woman on an adventure. This morning, when I exited my bedroom door, I did what I have done for many years. I looked for light under her bedroom door to see if she was awake or not. And I realized that tomorrow morning that door would be open, and her room would be empty. That little girl turned woman would be gone.
I sat in the darkness of my den and had a decision to make. I could dwell on the sadness and grief of her leaving, or I could focus on the promise and hope of our future, both hers and mine. I decided that her leaving was a good thing, and that I would be okay. And she would be okay, too.
It’s time for her to step out of my shadow and become her own person. I have taught her how to advocate for herself. I have taught her how to be kind to the elderly and to show compassion to the hurting. I have taught her how to love God and pursue Him. I’ve provided a safe place for her to develop her wings so that she could fly.
She is ready, even if I am not.
When it’s time for the last hug, I’m going to try hard not to think of it as the last, but as the first. It’s the first hug of Hannah’s life as an adult, a fledging bird who has left my nest. It is the first hug for me as a mother watching her baby from afar. I will cry just as hard, but mixed in the tears of sadness will be tears of joy.
Fly, baby girl, fly! Spread your wings and fly.
PS. I wrote this post on Saturday morning, on the drive up to her university. I wrote another one this afternoon, on the way home. If I am brave, I will post it, too, but suffice it to say…it was hard, but I survived.