As I lie in bed on a dark and rainy September morning, my two Boston Terriers by my side, I feel numb. Earlier today, while many moms and dads have sent their kids on the bus for their first day, back to school, the day after Labor Day, I sent mine on a plane to travel the world for nine months. Without me!
I knew this day was coming. Hell, if it wasn’t for me, I don’t think it would have ever happened? You see, I am in love with travel. This is something I passed down to my daughter. Being able to travel the world, visiting exotic places and meeting people from foreign lands, for an extended period of time, is something that many only dream about. Many, including me. Now, my daughter is living that dream. This is her reality and the thought of it is so surreal that it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
I am over the moon with excitement for her, knowing that she is able to see the world in this unique manner. This traveling style will allow her to fully immerse in different cultures, will expose her to new people, new foods and new traditions, in such a way that is very rare for a person to achieve on a typical two-week vacation. The program she is traveling with is called Winterline Global Skills This program has created an extraordinary hands-on approach to learning. Therefore, she is not just visiting 10 countries, hitting a few tourists spots and leaving. She is visiting places such as Costa Rica, Panama, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, India, Cambodia, and Thailand and while she spends time at each location, she will be learning 100 new skills as her journey progresses. The thought of how such experiences will positively impact her life in so many ways makes my heart sing.
So why am I so sad then?
After returning from the airport and driving up my driveway the first thing I see is her car with her Winterline bumper sticker proudly displayed on the back of her beat up Lexus RX300 SUV, that used to be mine, and used to be nice, but through the years it has aged, as did she, as did I. Thoughts ran through my head, “That car will no longer have Maddie coming and going in it”. “That car won’t move for months on end.” “It may even still be there when it snows and she still won’t be back!” My heart pounded and my eyes filled up again, right when they finally dried up from my drive home. “Take a deep breath Jess. She is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. She is so happy and that makes me so happy!”
But I’m going to miss her.
I proceeded to walk into the house, greeted by my fur babies, that thankfully “will never leave me”, I thought to myself, and then saw her shoes by the doorway. I tried to ignore them looking at me, as they whispered, ” She is gone. It’s time to let her go.” I contemplated on going in the kitchen for who knows what? I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t thirsty. I decided to instead to go upstairs and lay in my bed. I did wake up at 3:00 am to drive her, so I was really tired, but in reality, it was more a feeling of loss than fatigue that I was feeling.
I made my way up the stairs with Gabby and Bernie following close behind and in my peripheral vision I saw her clothes hanging to dry on the railing from the night before. ” I don’t know why she washed them if she wasn’t taking them?” I thought, “but if I don’t put those away in her room after they are dry, they won’t be touched or worn by her for at least three months, and by then, the shorts, crop tops and rompers won’t be in season. “
I need to get away from her stuff. At least for today anyway. I don’t dare go near her bedroom although I project images of myself laying in her bed on days I’m missing her.
My husband knows how hard this is for me, so in between his jobs he came by the house to check on me and to bring me a pumpkin spiced iced-coffee from Dunkin Donuts to cheer me up. It did temporarily. He knows that I am genuinely so excited for her, but have to transition to the empty nest stage of life. He also knows that this will be especially hard for me because she is “my person” and he isn’t even remotely jealous in that fact. He thinks we are clones, especially when we sweet talk him into things. We always eventually get our way with him, but I know he secretly loves it. I wonder if now I won’t get my way without her added persistence? She is good. Really good, but I digress.
He is a man a few words. He shows his love by his actions and has a hard time expressing his feelings verbally. Before she left he wanted to add patches to her backpack of all the places she has already gone. This is something we talk about on every trip we take. We buy the patches, intend to put them on when we get back home, but never get around to actually doing it. His goal was to have hers complete by her trip.
It started out rough. Some of the places we visited, we didn’t get a patch, so he ordered it from Amazon Prime. (I love Amazon Prime btw! You can get virtually anything!) We were waiting for them to arrive and it was getting very close. Then, the patches we thought were iron-on were actually sew-on. Trying to sew these heavy-duty stitched patches onto a nylon Northface backpack seemed nearly impossible. It was a grueling nightly task that he would make his chore for a week or so until it was complete, finger pokes and all. This was his way of saying good luck and a send off gift, “Brice-style”, not to mention the hefty contribution to this Gap Year he made. She loved it!
It’s now the afternoon and I’m still here on my bed writing my thoughts as I hear my dog loudly snoring next to me. As I finish off the last sips of my melted down, now less sugary, pumpkin spiced iced-coffee, I allow myself a day to mourn.
Today, I am mourning the end of her childhood. I am mourning our times chatting all night about all the drama at her school. I am mourning the unbearable wake-up calls for her before school meetings for FBLA. I am mourning seeing her pretty face smiling at me as she walks in from wherever she was that day. I am mourning the nights I couldn’t fall asleep until I knew she was home safe. All these things and more, will no longer be.
However, tomorrow, I will be celebrating her journey into adulthood. I will be celebrating the amazing experiences she will have exploring the world. I will be celebrating all of her accomplishments. I will be celebrating the obstacles that she has overcome.
I will be celebrating HER.
As a mother, letting go is hard. So hard. But when you know that by doing so, you are giving your child wings to fly, it’s all worth it. This is what I believe that being a good parent is all about. You can love them, nurture them, teach them, guide them, and hope you’ve done you’re best. BUT, you have to let them go. If you’ve done well, they will never forget where their nest is.