Good-bye Youngest Child
So, my youngest daughter and I were watching “Project Runway” last night when I commented that the previews for next week’s show looked fiercely dramatic. Just as I said it, I realized that we wouldn’t be watching together next week. She goes back to college on Sunday. Both of us were hit with a little jolt of sadness. It’s in those specific, mundane moments that I miss my kids the most. I know when I turn on “Project Runway” next Thurs. that I’ll be watching by myself. Not nearly as fun. Well, the dog always watches with me, but she’s not that interested in fashion, and my husband…. Let’s just say, my daughters and I try to help him out as much as we can when he buys new clothes, which is very rarely.
Over the summer, I’ve gotten into this habit of bringing my youngest a cup of coffee in bed. Lest you think my kids are spoiled, I’m just being thoughtful. (aside: Here’s bit of advice. If you do thoughtful things for your children, they’ll do thoughtful things for you, too.) Besides, sometimes she goes back to sleep without coffee. Oh, and I know what you’re thinking. “Can’t a 19-year-old wake up on her own?” Yes, she can, and she does it all the time. Again, some of these little nice things we do for our family members are just that — nice gestures. Anyway, I took some coffee in to her this morning, our 90-pound labradoodle wagging along behind me. My daughter sat up, and I had this vision of her as a sleepy 3-year-old. You know that commercial where the guy is talking to his daughter as she backing the car out of the driveway and he’s seeing a little girl when actually she’s a teenager? It was like that. My daughter has a very limp stuffed moose that my mom gave her when she was 1, and my daughter still sleeps with him. His name is, of course, Moosey. This morning when she sat up, Moosey was draped over her shoulder, hugging her neck. My daughter didn’t realize it, and when I pointed it out, she said, “That’s OK. He likes it like that.”
Times like that put me in that parent limbo that exists when you have young adult children. It was so recently that they actually were children, remnants of childhood still cling to them like dryer lint. One minute my daughter will have a stuffed moose hanging around her neck while she drinks black coffee and the next minute she’ll be discussing one of the five or six classics she assigned herself to read this summer. Tell me that it’s not fun revisiting the nine circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno! That makes for some interesting dinner conversation.
Just thinking about my daughter leaving on Sunday gives me an empty feeling. I’ll miss her. My strategy for not being too sad is to think of how excited she is to go back to school after a successful freshman year. I like to hear what she’s learning. And, fortunately, I’ll still have my middle child at home. Her school doesn’t start until after Labor Day, so at least I have a little transitional time with one kid at home before I totally rip off the band-aide. She’s starting her senior year and is thinking about what lies beyond that. But that’s a topic for another blog.