Sunday, September 2, 2012
We grow accustomed to rituals in our lives and then just as we get comfortable with them, something changes. It is life. This is possibly one of the strangest Labour Day weekends for me in about 14 years.
It is the first one without my daughter. Up until now it was all about new school supplies, lunch bags, clean uniforms, talk of buckling down and getting up early again. Not this time. This time she is on her own in another city, no nagging mother reminding her to take her water bottle, her vitamins, straightening some stray hairs in her part. She has to do it herself now.
The twists and turns in the last couple of years have been challenging, but this one may actually end up being the biggest challenge of all for me. It did not hit me until it was here. We both knew it was on the horizon and we were excited and eager for this transition but it's all talk until you actually embrace for the last time. When I was driving away, I felt like going back for one more hug. The the next day I thought I might drive over to her father's for one more as they were not leaving for Ottawa until yesterday. I thought better of it. I will be seeing her in a couple of weeks when I visit her up there for her birthday.
Still, that's a long time between hugs. It's crazy really. She has been away at camp for as long as six weeks in the past and I was fine with that. But she was coming home then. There was a beginning and an end. I know this is not the same as when she will leave permanently, but it is the step before that and if she chooses to spend summers up there, it is pretty close to the same.
I packed a card for her to open tonight for her first night in residence in her new room. It is as close to a hug as I figured we could get. I hope she pulls it out whenever she is feeling homesick, or lonely, or sad or overwhelmed. Thank goodness for Skype. At least I will be able to see her face and gauge her moods. She is and always has been a hopeless liar - I can read her face and know in an instant when she is not being truthful about something despite any claims to the contrary. She knows it too and she generally just gives in the moment I call her on it.
Funny how we think of our kids being so dependent on us, but in some ways we are equally dependent on them. In my new single life, it was she who was often here at the end of the day to listen to me, share meals, walk somewhere together. I took it for granted. I realize that now that the place is empty when I get home. Time to re-acquaint myself with myself. I don't mind being alone. Most of the time.
So, this Labour Day weekend begins a new chapter. For her. For me. For her father. When I dropped her off I asked her to stand in front of his house and pose for a photo. I have always taken a "first day of school" photo even in recent years when she would roll her eyes and protest, but she indulged me and stood with her computer in her arms across her chest and smiled and I got a shot for the record books.
Probably the last one on her scholastic journey. Another milestone. Another memory.
Carpe diem my sweet girl!