Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hugs "R" us

Sitting here in my hotel room in our nation's capital after a perfect late summer day spent with my daughter on the eve of her 18th birthday.  She is attending an evening class and I am alone waiting for her to join me.  A series of flashbacks have been going through my mind all day and as I ponder our journey together as mother and daughter the one thing that stands out in my mind is hugging.

Hugs have been our glue.  Our cure-all.  Our balm.  When she was barely old enough to walk and talk, it was the solution to every fall, every victory, every bad dream. Hugs were like band-aids for us.  Any seeming crisis has always been followed with hugs. We have hugged every morning, every evening and any time in between when we just felt the need.  

When she knew that she would be leaving for Ottawa, she was excited and this great new life and adventure was spread out before her.  It was all positive.  The only thing she stopped to contemplate was "how would she live without our hugs."?  How, indeed.

So, today when I saw her coming toward me in the residence courtyard, I watched as every step she took toward me was like a dance of brisk moving legs and arms that started to reach toward me with the same familiarity that I have witnessed for most of her 18 years, and the sweet tilt in her head and smile on her face that accompanies this intimate ritual between us and it always feels the same.  Warm and heartfelt and connected.  For this moment in time, all is well with the world.  She is safe and secure and loved.

As she gets older and spends more and more time away from me, these are the moments she can carry with her and know that even though they are not as frequent, they will always be waiting for her the next time. 

Happy Birthday baby - here's to many more years of adventure, learning and of course...hugs.

Mom xoxooo

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Transitions 101

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!