My daughter was in for Thanksgiving.
It was wonderful.
However, for the first time, it felt like my daughter was a visitor and not an inhabitant of the household. It felt weird. I don’t know quite how to explain it. Even her phone said that “Home” was 352 miles away…
I felt like all household duties got put on hold- it was as if my daughter was a guest who I needed to entertain. I didn’t do laundry on Thursday (of course, Thanksgiving sort of got in the way). I didn’t do other scheduled household chores. I even forgot to take my vitamins…It was as if real life got put on hold and suspended for a few days. I felt myself catering to her- which of course could just be a Mom wanting to baby her child a little, because the Mom knows that these days will be fleeting…Maybe the Mom just wants to kiss the top of her daughter’s head like she used to, and bring her tea and shortbread cookies and just have a chat.
She came and went as she pleased though. Which I didn’t have a problem with. She’s a twenty year old young woman with a city full of friends, and twenty year old women are supposed to be out and about.
But then I got a text shortly after midnight on Saturday…
Can you take care of me when I get home?
Followed quickly by this text…
I’m not drunk. I think I have pink eye.
My first thought was not how did she get pink eye. My first thought was that my baby needed me.
So I got out of my bed and put a fresh pillow case on her bed. I got things to make compresses. When she walked in the door I handed her pajamas and waited for her to change. Then I helped her wash her eye. I gave her a pain reliever. And I kissed the top of her head as I pulled the covers up.
And Sunday I got to baby her a little bit. I ran out to get pink eye drops. I carefully washed my hands about a billion times as I cleaned her little red eye. I put the drops in her eye for her. And I felt horrible that in a few hours I would be putting her on a train to go back home and I wouldn’t be able to help her. I really accepted that she doesn’t live here anymore- and that she would have to take care of herself without me. And that hurt
a lot just a little.
But then I realized that she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. She would go back to DC and carefully wash her eye and put the drops in and change her pillowcases and wear glasses so that she wouldn’t touch her eye and then she would wash the glasses. She is capable. I raised a capable child. Like a parent is supposed to.
Watching your child mature is bittersweet. We know that the desired outcome is self sufficiency, yet we all want to feel that our kids need us. For just a little bit this weekend, I got to take care of my daughter and it felt nice to be needed- to get a text that she needed help and wasn’t afraid to ask for it. But it also felt nice that I knew she would be able to take care of herself.
And it was really nice to get a big hug. And for my daughter to say “Thank you. You are the best Mom in the world.”
And I watched her walk down the hall to the elevator and I felt OK. I will always be her Mommy, and she will always be my baby, no matter how old we are. And I look forward to the next stage of our lives.