|Spending time with my girl - July 2014|
It didn't take much twisting of the finger her dad is wrapped around before the trip was a go. Itineraries were planned, reservations made and money saved. Each girl had to contribute $200 towards the cost of renting a house for the week. Gillian, a girl after my own heart, carefully planned and saved and came up with the $200 plus spending money for the trip. I was impressed with her single-minded determination and discipline over the next several months as she saved the money needed for her trip.
The long-awaited departure day finally arrived. I said goodbye with a sigh of relief. Ten days of freedom! My workdays would be free from numerous text messages with urgent requests demanding immediate attention. No more interruptions asking about rides to the mall, permission to have a sleepover, or go to a party or a friend's house. I was looking forward to a break from the demands of parenting a teenager during the summer while working full-time. Anyone who has done it before knows what I'm talking about.
I'm used to being away from my daughter for extended periods of time. I've had a 50/50 joint custody arrangement with her dad since she was 4 years old. She lives away from me every other week. I've long since gotten over any anxiety and sadness about not having her with me every day. I've learned to go with the rhythm of one week on, one week off of parenting. Still, I always sleep better and feel much more settled and content on the nights she's asleep in the room next to mine.
It was a long ten days. I missed our frequent interactions. Even when she isn't with me, we have a lot of back and forth communication and frequent contact. During her vacation I tried not to bug her and barrage her with constant messages. We texted back and forth every day or two while she was gone. She was sweet and sent me pictures and videos. This one especially touched my heart.
Her message was simple, "Look who it is." I love Olivia Newton-John and the two of us have spent many happy times dancing and singing our hearts out in the kitchen to songs from Grease.
When she finally made it home I couldn't believe how much she had changed! She was tan and happy and beautiful. She seemed more mature. I loved hearing her tell me about her trip. As we sat at the dinner table, just the two of us, I realized how precious that moment was and how fleeting our time together over the next few years is going to be. My mind flashed to the future and I realized this was probably how I'll feel when she comes home from college for visits in the not so distant future. I saw myself waiting, hungrily, for her next visit, basking in the unique glow of her youthful energy, beauty, excitement and stories of discovery. I saw her as the adult person she is rapidly becoming, a person with a life that is becoming more separate from mine. It struck me that my nest would be empty much sooner than I realized.
Sometimes as our babies grow, demanding and squawking for their needs to be met NOW, the nest can feel so crowded and suffocating. The day they spread their wings and fly away seems as if it will never come. And then, it does, and the void they leave is huge, much bigger than the actual physical space they took up. I realized I'm not quite ready for that empty nest. I'm good with some brief, experimental flights away and then back, but I'm not ready for that final flight away, not for a while.
|The girls on the beach.|