Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Little Chickadee Flies the Coop (September 20, 2012)

I wrote the following September 20, 2012, but did not post it then.

My little girl left today to spend nine months teaching English in Austria. She is in the air now, probably about two hours away from Reykjav√≠k. I cried at the airport. She cried, too. She’s not a little girl any more. She’s 28. She’ll spend her 29th birthday in Europe in December. But she’s still my little girl.
How do I feel about her leaving? I feel many things.
Since we learned in April that she got the Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in Austria, we have been planning for this trip. It has been an exciting, mad rush, especially this last week. So much shopping to do. Shoes to buy. Coats to try on. Gadgets to consider. But she’s gone. She has finally left home.
She’s left home before to go to college, but that was at the local university. As now, I dreaded her departure back then, but I was surprised that I felt an enormous sigh of relief. I had my life back! She was just across town. We could meet anytime to go shopping. Now it’s different. I will not see her for nine months. Well, except for Skype.
I won’t see her on my upcoming birthday. She won’t be here at Halloween to lament that she doesn’t have a party to go to. Nor will she be here with me to take Bruce out on his birthday to Tavern on Grand for the walleye basket. I’m not sure how Thanksgiving will be. She is my cook. She directs; I chop. We make Grandma Ford’s chicken and dressing. She makes green bean casserole with fresh green beans, fresh mushrooms, and homemade sauce. No canned Campbell’s soup for my little foodie. She won’t be here for her birthday in December. And I don’t know how we’ll do Christmas this year. It always (especially the presents) centered around her.
Sometimes it’s terrible having an only child. And it’s terrible being the only child. You alone must bear all the hope and wishes of two people, your parents. There is no one to commiserate with when your mom tries to control your life too much, or your dad is simply too grumpy. As I parent, I want her to fulfill all her dreams, and maybe some of mine. Well—she has pretty much come close to one of those. I would have loved to have gone to live in Europe when I was her age.
I’m rambling, I know. Bear with me. I already miss her, Yet again I am relieved that she is not underfoot. Again I feel freedom from being a mom. Sometimes too much of a doting mom. I can be selfish now. I only have to be at one’s person’s beck and call now—Bruce.
We had so much fun planning for her to go and live in Austria. We spent a lot of money. Not only on luggage, shoes, and coats, but also in going to all our favorite restaurants before she left, the ones she won’t find in Austria—Mexican food, Asian food, Cafe Latte, good hamburgers.
I am relieved to get Messy Bessy out of the house. Helping her to pack, I uncovered Girl Scout cookie money that she hadn’t turned in. (She was one of three troop leaders for a Brownie Girl Scout troop.) We got that to the troop today. There was over $10.00 in coins in her room and purse. I even found a wheat penny. I also uncovered multiple OB tampons, unused of course. She always seemed to be running out of these. Always running to Target to get more when there were at least 12 in the bottom of her purse.
I’m sure she has a stash of yarn here at the house worth at least $500.00. I found many an ongoing project. That’s not to say that she doesn’t finish her yarn projects, because she does. Looking for her laptop case, I found numerous skeins with stitches on the needles in addition to multiple pristine, untouched skeins. All natural fibers, of course. Emilia is not only a foodie. She also is a yarn snob. No polyester for this girl. 

I found more than one bottle of opened Advil. And there was receipt after receipt. My messy little girl. She seems to be so disorganized and yet so together. She got a Fulbright position. You can’t be disorganized and do that.
Yes, I’ll miss her. And I won’t miss her. I’ll relish her living her own life, without her mother hovering over her. I’ll relish having my own life back. One where I don’t feel obliged to do things with her—go to the mall or out to eat or pass judgment (requested by her) on her clothing or makeup. I’ll miss those things. They really weren’t obligations. They were things I enjoyed being a part of. But they were distracting. I look forward to being a little selfish and doing what I want, dealing only with Bruce distractions.

It’s hard to let go of your children. It’s hard to give them up to the world, Even if they are 28, almost 29 years old. You want them in your life, but you also want them to have their own life. When I was her age, I had been on my own for 10 years. But things were different then. The economy was different. And I would have never lasted that long living with my parents. I was too different from them. Emilia I and enjoy many of the same things, philosophically as well as intellectually. We are more on the same page than I ever was with my parents. She is my intellectual equal. I might even say my intellectual stimulus and challenger. Not only is she a wonderful daughter; she also is a great conversationalist and a creative human being. We’ve been down so many paths together. We’re close. Some might say too close. She is my best friend. She is a wonderful friend. And I will miss her in the days to come.

Travel well, my child. The adventure is on.

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