Up, up and away.
Away from home, away from me, away from ... everything she's ever known.
My "little girl" got on a plane today and flew off to another state. She and her best friend, who is off to college in a few weeks, have flown the coop--literally.
She'll be fine. I can only imagine the "adventures" she will have simply by being away from home. She can go to bed without me scolding, "It's late--get to bed." She can eat as many Tater Tots as she wants. Ice cream at 10:00 p.m.? No problem. Yes, I'm sure she will be just fine.
As for me? Jury's still out on that one. I'm such a stickler for a child's "first's": First tooth, first steps, first time on an airplane alone without your parents, flying to another state in another time zone--you get the picture. Here's another "first": First time her parents have had to say goodbye to her for more than a day.
When did my little baby turn into a nearly-grown person, sufficiently mature to board a plane and fly off into the wild blue without me beside her?
When on earth did that happen and where was I when it did?
The other day, I paused in front of a classroom at our church. I peeked into the window and watched my daughter teaching a classful of 4-5 year olds during Vacation Bible School. I admired this child of mine (with a little pride, I confess), teaching others. Someone I know passed by and I said, "Look, that's my baby in there!" and he had the audacity to correct me! "She's not a baby" he kept insisting. Well, she may not be a baby, but she's my baby, mister. Best remember that. I can well see from looking at her 5', 11 - 1/2" frame that she's not an actual baby anymore. But even though infancy and young childhood is the shortest period of a person's life, it seems to be the one parents, especially we mothers, hold on to and remember the most. It's the time when our kids are the most dependent on us and it's not easily given up or forgotten. I know she's old enough to take care of herself, but there is still a part of me that wonders if she's hungry or thirsty or if she needs a sweater. "Once a mother, always a mother" is what my own mom is fond of saying as she asks this middle-aged daughter of hers if she's chilly.
That sort of feeling isn't turned off like a switch. My friend can chide me all he wants; part of my heart is cruising at 35,000 feet right now and I won't breathe deeply again till she's home. That's just the way it is. Although I know my job as a parent is to make myself unnecessary, it's just not that simple.
So sweetie, if you're reading this, go put on your jammies and get to bed. Help yourself to some ice cream before you do. I love you tons, my baby, my little girl ~ my heart.