Monday, January 23, 2017


Photo: Alexa's Fotos via Pixabay
We brought my daughter to the train station yesterday, but it wasn't until I picked up the coat that I cried. Even then, it wasn't a lot. For a moment, holding that winter coat close -- an automatic, impulsive response -- I teared up. The feeling of missing her came in a wave, its intensity receding almost as quickly as it had swept over me.

From there, I moved to her room where things lay in neat piles, separated by whether she needed it now or whether it could wait until later. Clothes that hadn't made the final cut. Shoes that took up too much room. Toiletries purchased in bulk last summer because we'd had no idea how many she'd actually need. Overpurchased, of course, as though a shampoo emergency were an actual crisis.

The boxing up was easy -- something I'd done many times last semester -- and brought no further tears. The cardboard cartons were recycled, impersonal -- not the little piece of my daughter embodied in the coat she'd planned to take until just hours before. In no time, the boxes were full. Ready to be shipped off to the child who'd slept upstairs less than twenty-four hours before.

This second semester separation is...different. Like last summer, the house is too quiet, which is saying a lot, since I adore peace and quiet. Like last semester, we'll count her time away in months -- even more of them this time, since she and her friends are planning a service project in Washington DC for spring break. And, like her break at Thanksgiving, this one was over too soon.

But not soon enough for her, and therein lies the difference. Her pre-departure excitement was different this time -- fewer nerves and more nostalgia -- a readiness to return to friends and routines and the adventures that lay ahead.

When we took her to college last fall, I said I'd be happy once I knew she was happy, and so happy is what I will be.

I just might need a couple of days to get there.


  1. Oh boy, have I been here! And it makes me regret what I put my parents through, in my hurry to be back among friends--it's such an in-between time for them, pulled between 2 worlds. We parents are also pulled between wanting to hold them close and keep hem little, and watching, wondering and marveling st the adults they become.

  2. Thanks, Barb -- it's nice to know I'm not alone! It actually kind of helps to remember that I once was there, too -- I take it less personally. I really am glad she's found a place she wants to return to, even if the place she left is a tad too quiet.