As I made her bed, I felt the lump again. My baby wouldn’t be sleeping under my roof that night.
“You’ve already spent so much on my move to school,” my 18-year-old daughter, Julia, said. “You bought my bedding, my towels, and all of my storage stuff. I’m paying for these dorm decorations.”
I nodded, but when we got to the check out, I just piled everything on the counter and paid for it. It took Julia a minute to realize what I was doing. She protested and tried to pay me back for her purchases, but I said, “Honey, don’t worry about it. This stuff will be so cute in your room. Besides, this will be our last shopping trip together for a while.” I felt the now-familiar lump in my throat as I said the words. I could hardly believe my baby girl was going away to college.
In my head, I knew that I was overreacting. The college that Julia had chosen was only 30 minutes from our house. I would probably still see her on a weekly basis. I’d already planned to meet her for coffee, shopping trips, and pedicures. In my head, I knew this move wasn’t that big of a deal. But in my heart, I was grieving. I was used to seeing Julia every single day. Although we would still see one another often, our relationship was changing.
And although things were going exactly the way they were supposed to, I was still sad at the changes.
The next morning, we packed up two cars and drove to Julia’s dorm room. As my husband, Eric, lofted her bed, I unpacked her clothes and toiletries. I organized her bathroom and hung her shower curtain. As I made her bed, I felt the lump again. My baby wouldn’t be sleeping under my roof that night.
Or any night in the near future.
Julia’s roommate and her parents arrived, and we finished organizing the girls’ room. Then we all went out to dinner together.
We had a great time, but I couldn’t really enjoy myself. These were my last few minutes with Julia.
When we dropped her back off at her dorm, I hugged her tight and couldn’t hold back my tears. “I’m so proud of you, Honey,” I said.
“I love you Momma,” she said, squeezing her eyes tight.
I cried most of the way back to our house. That night, Julia texted me the sweetest good night message. The next night, she called to tell me about her day, and we talked for nearly two hours.
“I think you two are talking more now than when she lived at home,” Eric said.
I shrugged. “It’s still not the same.”
The next morning, I opened my laptop to answer some emails and found a Ziploc baggie with a few twenty dollar bills and three Post-it notes. Tears filled my eyes as I realized it was from Julia. “Mom, this money is to pay you back for the decorations you bought the other day,” the first Post-it note said. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. You’re the best mom in the world and I love you so much,” the second one said.
But the third note was the one that really got me. “You are my best friend and you’ll always be my favorite person to talk to,” it said.
Those three Post-it notes are so much more valuable to me than the money she included in the bag. They made me realize how blessed I am to have a daughter like Julia. She is incredibly kind, and she made me feel so loved from 30 miles away. We’ve always been close, but we grew even closer during the shutdown. Nearly every day, we sat and talked for hours. She has this way of making people loved and understood. Holding those Post-it notes in my hand reminded me how blessed I am to be her mom.
Julia’s moving day was a hard day for me. I had to take my daughter to school and leave her there. I would no longer see her every day. When I returned home and went into her now-empty bedroom at our house, I thought my heart would break. When I saw my dogs searching the house for Julia and whining when they couldn’t find her, tears flooded my eyes. When something exciting happened and I had to text her to tell her about it, that always-present lump in my throat grew so much bigger.
But in the days since moving day, I’ve realized that things have changed less than I thought they would. I haven’t seen Julia, but we have talked on the phone or texted every day. She still tells me everything that’s going on in her life. We’re still close. I’m still her favorite person to talk to.
Moving day might have changed Julia’s address, but it didn’t change our relationship.
And I’ll always feel blessed to be her mom.