I had lunch with my daughter yesterday. She’s lived at college for the past several years. Close enough to visit often, but we don’t, for her sake. She has adjusted to her new young adult life well. And I miss her.
I miss knowing that I will see her each night and get to hear all the details about her day (good and bad). I miss seeing her face at the dinner table. I miss her cuddling up to me on the couch at night when she needs a little mom-time. She comes home every few weeks, at least until midterms and/or finals hit her and then it’s less often.
I’m always happy when she texts me a “do you have any plans for tomorrow?” message. Assuming my work schedule allows it, my answer is always “having lunch with you?” Yesterday, she came to my office after her morning class and waited for me to finish a meeting, then we walked across the street for lunch.
The event that sparked our lunch this time was that I needed to give her her vehicle registration card and sticker for her plates, as well as her “Time for Renewal” notice for her driver’s license. She’s turning 21 next month and will get the “adult” version of the license that is horizontal orientation instead of vertical for the “under 21” kids. So, I explained how she needed to go to the S.O.S. to renew it, get her photo taken (not one of her favorite things), make sure she took her I.D., her wallet, etc.
We didn’t necessarily discuss anything major. Just small things about which of her siblings had done or said what recently. She talked about how her classes were going. She’s in pre-vet and had to raise a chicken for butchering this term. She really enjoyed that and now has some chicken in her freezer for a “free” meal sometime soon. 😀
Then I drove her to the Plant Bio building where she had her next class. And we sat in the parking lot and chatted some more before she headed off to class. She was scheduled for a volleyball game that evening. Her lab would end at 5:50 and her game started at 6:00 pm. She and her roommate would eat dinner after that (I remember those crazy schedules!). We talked about relationships and how you find the best ones when you aren’t really looking for them.
She kissed me before she left (she’s never been one to be embarrassed about her love for her parents 🙂 ) and I watched her walk up the sidewalk into the building. As any mother knows, you feel this mixture of absolute pride and bittersweet emotions when your adult child heads off like that. My baby is all grown up and she’s beautiful and intelligent and confident. And she doesn’t really need me every day anymore.
And as I drove back to my office, I thought. I thought about how I only get glimpses into her life now. I thought how I’m jealous of the people that get to see her daily, at the same time that I’m glad that she is finding her place in the world.
And I thought – I wish I could just see her in her daily activities and interactions without actually being there. Like a fly on the wall. Not because I’m worried at all about her. But because I would love to continue reading her story. See, as her parent, I got to be the author of her story when she was a baby.
At first, I got to choose everything for her, what I thought was best, her clothes, her food, her activities. And then I slowly relinquished my place at the keyboard over time, letting her spend more and more time typing up her own story as she grew, with me just helping edit along the way.
And now, she’s the full author in her own life story. She gets to make things up the way she wants them to be. And I have to wait to read excerpts of it in these little glimpses of time that I get to be with her. She still asks my advice, and I have to work very hard to make certain she is asking for my opinion, not my approval. I’ve explained to my kids that they get to choose what they want to take from their dad and me into their own lives, and what they want to leave out. That their lives are their own, even though we’ll always be there for them. I love who they’re becoming. And as most moms, I miss not knowing everything, but it’s okay. So far, from the parts she’s let me see- it’s turning out to be a great story.
Now #2 is starting her journey, applying to college, planning her life. Slowly letting loose of my hand. Bittersweet.
And #3, 4, and 5 are starting to spend more time at the keyboard writing their own stories as well. And I get to be the reader, as it should be. I look forward to seeing how these stories all turn out. 😀