If ya’ll will excuse me this month, I’m feeling very verklempt. My older daughter, my first born, my baby girl, is packing almost everything she owns in preparation for her week away (from me). This will be the first time that the child who made me a mother will be away from me for an extended period of time. Those two nights that her Nana kept her while my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at a bed and breakfast just two hours away don’t count.
During spring break, she’ll be traveling by herself (and 25 of her peers, five adult sponsors, three tour guides, two security guards and a bus driver). She’ll be flying on a big jet plane (with a qualified and competent pilot, I’m praying), and staying in a dark, lonely five-star hotel room (with three of her friends) every night until she comes back to me on Friday.
It seems like just yesterday that I was cradling the soft and sweet-smelling baby in my arms while she dreamed of things like puppies and unicorns and rainbows while I dreamed of her future that would entail a Miss America crown and the Presidency of the United States. Now, I’m watching her flee from my proverbial nest and hoping that she spreads her wings and soars through her life with grace and courage…at least for the week that she’s gone. After that, she won’t be allowed to leave until she goes to summer camp or college.
She’s already packed and repacked her clothes for her spring break learning excursion three times. I’ve packed and repacked her suitcase four times. Certainly she won’t need more than twelve pair of undies, right? And I want her to wear that neon yellow shirt every single day so that her sponsors won’t lose track of her and, in the off chance that they do, it’ll be easy for the FBI and CIA to find her if she’s wearing neon yellow, right? She says she’s not wearing the same shirt day after day after day. Look who’s getting too big for her britches on the heels of her big trip by herself?
Her independence and curiosity, which have always been a source of pride for me, might also be the source of my heart attack. Will she venture off on her own? Will she stay with her group? Will she follow instructions? Will she pay attention to the tour guides? Will she get on the right buses? Will her curiosity find her in the middle of a real-life National Treasure-like heist? If so, will Nick Cage come help find her? And if that happens, will she snap-chat a picture with Nick Cage to me so I can live vicariously through her?
Momma’s pre-trip to-do: Call the veterinarian. Are those micro-chips for my furry, four-legged companions only or can I get one for my kid?
She’ll eat only junk, I’m sure of it. She’ll have nothing to eat all week long but French fries, chocolate donuts and sour cream and onion chips. She’ll spend all of her money on overpriced gummy candy and those extra big pixie sticks that are full of nothing but impure cane sugar. This is probably not that much different than the way she’d eat at home, but at least I’d be here to yell at her for it. No one will yell at her when she eats Funyuns (only) for dinner.
No one told me that before she’d leave the house for real that we’d have these practice runs. No one told me that she’d stop needing me when she really did still need me—and I really did still need her. No one told me that I’d try, on more than one occasion, to fold myself into her suitcase … along with her neon yellow shirts, five of ‘em.
No one told me that I’d be the momma that the two security guards would pull from the airport shuttle as I cried out, “Give me my baby back!” Sure, she hasn’t left yet, but that’s my plan the morning her group departs.
Buy tissues. Call her every hour. Call her friends every hour when she stops taking my calls.
So my spring break plans? I’ll be learning to let go…all while convincing my older daughter’s younger sister to never, ever leave me no matter what.
Or at least not until I say it’s okay.