It wasn't that long ago that I sat at my computer to write a very sappy blog post about my baby girl going off to college. It was one of the hardest things I've ever tried to write -- not because I couldn't find the right words, but because I could not see very well with the tears pouring down my face and the blubber blocking up my sinuses.
I get like that sometimes.
At the time, I poured my heart out about how proud I was, but also how sad that my baby girl was leaving me to go off and become her own person, to become even more independent than she already was and pretty much always has been. I marveled at how quickly the time had passed from that moment her first mother placed her in my empty arms to then. How hard it was to let her go.
It was so full of emotions that even she was moved to a tear. (Just one. My girl does not cry like her mama.)
But almost just as quickly, four years flew by and my baby girl is home -- sort of.
Just a few short weeks ago, she donned a purple gown and mortar board, moved her tassel from one side to the other, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, with a Bachelor's degree in Communications. She was on the Dean's List all four years (or the President's List) and was the editor of her school newspaper, The Current Sauce. Best of all, in four years I never got a call from campus security or a local sheriff's deputy and we made it through with no major traumas, dramas, illnesses or catastrophes.
I may have been up in the rafters on graduation day, but I could still see her proud smile as she walked across the stage to receive her diploma. I did not cheer. I did not hoot or holler. I did not even caw. I just watched and cried and recorded it so I could watch it again... and again. And so could she.
And she did not have to see me to know that I was bursting with pride and crying -- again.
Shortly after the ceremony (and the monsoon that hit during it), we posed for a slew of family photos to mark the occasion. We then drove back to her dorm to pack it up and move her out one last time. I got to play car Tetris once more (I am the Master!), stowing her belongings in my car, hers and her boyfriend's. Before we hit the road, we stopped for a quick bite to eat at her favorite spot in Natty -- a little gas station cafe called The French Market. Then we all settled in for the very long drive home.
But this time, she didn't bring all her stuff back to my house to sort through. No, this time it all went to her boyfriend's place just up the street! (Score one for Mom!) Her now tidy bedroom is still tidy! The only thing she gave me was the cap and gown to store safely in one of her many boxes and trunks of keepsakes.
And I was fine with all of it. After four years, I'm just happy to have her less than four hours away. She is literally one mile away now, in a tidy little trailer she is working hard to decorate and keep clean. We've gone there to see where she put all her stuff and to visit with our grand cat, Flea, and dog, Buddy. She's come home to raid the fridge and the pantry and to swim. It's nice.
So now she begins her post-graduate degree in adulting. She's looking for a job (she's a damn good writer), filling out applications, taking care of their pets, figuring out how to pay the bills, and calling for advice here and there.
These four years have taught both of us a lot about independence. She has been on her own and survived. And so did I.
So, now that she is home again, I have not become a helicopter mom, opting to let her do it her way. I'm here if she needs me, and if I do happen to spot an interesting job opening on Twitter or Facebook, I do send it her way. The rest is up to her.
A lot of my co-workers and Facebook pals are now where I was four years ago, crying over their soon to be empty nests and lamenting how hard it will be to drive their child miles away and drop them in their new temporary homes. I feel for them. My heart aches for them. But at least now I can tell, them -- they do come home again. Well, sort of. She may not be back in her childhood bedroom, which she never cleaned, but at least she's in the same zip code.