Almost since the day my daughter was born, I've been watching her leave. Every time it happens, I get this heavy, empty feeling in my heart. The first time was when her grandparents in Florida took her for a few days while J and I went on a long weekend trip when she was 16 months old. For the first day or two that we were gone, we were consumed with missing her. We took pictures with us, and even took a video tape of her so that we could watch "H.. movies" while we were gone. I'll never forget the day we came home and my in-laws brought her back to us. I ran up to her with my arms outstretched...she looked at me, and burrowed her head into her grandma's chest. My mother-in-law still relishes the feeling that gave her, but I still feel the pain and guilt that it took 4 days for my daughter to be more comfortable with my mother-in-law than with me.
I kept her close by for several months after that. Then, I enrolled her in one day a week of preschool. She was 2 years old, and loved every minute of it. I think being an only child meant she loved anything she did that involved other kids. I could never just leave her there, though. I would drop her off, and stand there for a few minutes waiting for her to cry, or beg me not to go, but my social butterfly daughter would always run off, without even looking over her shoulder. So I would go out to the car, and then promptly go back in to the "Observation room"...a little closet with a one way mirror that I could look through to watch her play.
Then, as the years went by, there were more occasions for her to leave me...dance lessons, kindergarten, sleepovers, summer camp, etc. It was never easy to watch her go, but as the years went by, I learned to live with it. But nothing, I mean NOTHING, prepared me for this morning.
There will be more occasions in the future for her to leave: college, work, travel, marriage, etc. It will always hurt watching her go. But I know that she has wonderful life experiences to look forward to. I will pray for her safety and her happiness. But I guess we have to let go. A little bit.