I told her I would be up to see her off. No need to set an alarm, JR seldom sleeps past 5am. True to his norm, we were awake at 430. I had him lay beside me. I turned on Netflix so he could watch cartoons, I laid there with a thousand things going through my mind. This was it the day we (she) had worked so hard for, and yet somehow I thought if I just stayed there in bed time would stop and she would not have to go. I did not want this day to start.
I heard her downstairs around 6. She was trying to be quiet, so she would not wake any of her siblings. I stayed in bed trying to dry the tears that had already found their way into my eyes. Pull it together, you can’t let her see you like this. This is a happy occasion. I listened to my inner voice and got out of bed. She was trying to smile when I rounded the corner to the kitchen. There were a few boxes that she had to have and asked if we could bring them up in the van. I nodded my head and told her we didn’t mind. Her boyfriend loaded them into my van as we said our first set of goodbyes. It was raining and the drive back to her college is long. Graduation practice was later that day so they had to go. I hugged her and kissed her and said see you soon. I watched as they drove away. Warm tears slowly trickled down my checks, you will see her this afternoon, its okay. I told myself.
I went to pour myself some coffee so I could start the day. When I went to add my creamer and my container was empty. Perfect. An empty coffee creamer container and an empty room. My day was off to a wonderful start.
The trip went as easy as it could when traveling with five children under six. There was laughter, there was screaming, there was kicking, there was yelling and there was the all so famous “Are we there yet?” question asked every two minutes of our 6 hour trip. My mind was spinning and my heart was breaking. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that as her mom my job is to raise her right. My hope is that I have done so and that she has a good head on her shoulders and a heart that wants to help others, but see she is my first. My baby girl. Letting her go off to college was hard enough, watching her graduate and move even farther way is overwhelming. So while my younger kids were being….well kids my mind replayed moments of when she was young. Her first day of kindergarten, piano and dance recitals, taekwondo belt tests, school achievements and color guard trips all flooded my mind.
We made it to the hotel just in time to unload and make it over to the park where we were to met her, her boyfriend and his family for lunch. The park was a perfect place for the kids ( she always looks out of them) not sure if the others really enjoyed it or not it. The sun was hot and there was little shade. Her dad and I said some quick hello’s before we had to start catching the kids around the park. Not the introduction I really wanted to make, but its our life and we have kids….lots of kids. The kids were excited to see their big sissy again and were ready to take on the new to them park swings and jungle gyms. It was just what they needed after the long trip. We were getting ready to wrap things up after having been there for two hours, before diva had her meltdown. Things were not going her way and she did not want her 18 month old sister playing with her. We are use to her throwing her fits, my daughters boyfriends family not so much. I think they all said something about her not being happy or about her not getting her way. I know it embarrassed Sie, she was wanting to make such a good impression. Diva could not help it, her medication had ran its course for the day. Nothing any of us could have done or said would have stopped the outburst from happening. We said our second set of goodbyes at the van as we loaded up upset kids to take them to the hotel. Sie was crying because JR was upset. Elissa was still throwing her fit and the other three were just crying because they were tired and didn’t really want to leave the playground. Her boyfriend wrapped his arms around her and told her it would be fine, that “We aren’t saying goodbye forever just goodbye for a little while.” She was taking it hard, this was the last time she would see them for who knows how long and I think the kids could sense it, I know JR could anyway.
Later that night we attended her Baccalaureate service. With great pride my husband, our oldest son, my parents and I watched as she walked a crossed the stage to be hooded and recognized for her achievements. She would become the first in our family to graduate college with a four year degree. She was paving a new road for her siblings and future generations to follow. She surprised us all when we saw her design of her cap. She truly loves her siblings and wants to make them proud.
We snapped a few pictures after the service and headed back to the hotel to relieve my in-laws who were on babysitting duty. (A huge thank you to them for doing so, the kids would not have made it through the service without someone having a meltdown) My mom and I made a quick run to the store to pick up some snacks and juices for the kids ride home in the morning and then it was off to bed. I didn’t sleep. My emotions were all over the place. Thankfully JR could not sleep either and joined me in my alone time at 3am. Together we stared into the darkness of the room. Neither really saying anything to each other. Occasionally he would ask if it was time to wake up daddy and when I would reply no, he would settle back into my arms and let me rub his back. Sie use to do the same thing.
Morning came and it was as if a tornado had hit the hotel room. At 6:15 we discovered that we did not pack enough pull-ups. How in the world does a family of five forget to bring pull-ups??? So while I was packing things up and while the children were running through the hotel as if they had never been in one before, my husband made a store run to buy the illusive Lighting McQueen pull-ups we so desperately needed. Nevertheless, by the time my in-laws arrived to our room we had somehow managed to have everyone ready to go. We loaded them up, handed my father in-law the keys to my 12 passenger van, got all of the snacks ready to go and watched them drive off. We then loaded up in my in-laws car and headed over to the college for graduation.
Graduation was a success. Seeing her smile after receiving her diploma is something I will never forget. We did not have time for a fancy dinner after graduation, we needed to get to my in-laws to pick up the little ones, but she wanted to go eat at KFC so we agreed. Not exactly the most glamorous place to eat a graduation dinner but it made her and her friends happy. Looking back at the four of them brought back so many wonderful memories, it was nice to have most of “Momma C’s” girls together again.
As we sat in KFC eating I could not stop smiling. There at the table next to me, were four young, beautiful ladies and my handsome son, talking about future plans and catching up on the latest news from back home. As bad as I wanted them to all be ten years old again having slumber parties back at the house, eating pizza and dancing to Kids Pop CD’s, this sight made my heart rejoice. It was nice seeing most of the original Momma C girls together again. I hope they all know just how much I love them and how proud they make me as well. It has been a joy watching them grow up into wonderful, caring, beautiful young ladies. I can’t wait to see what their futures hold.
As we walked to the car, I could feel the tears burning my eyes. I quickly hugged her and went to get in the car. But as I went to get in the car I could not move. Pull it together, you can’t do this right here right now. My inner voice was screaming at me to just get in the car. Screw the inner voice this time. I slammed the car door and ran across the parking lot and pulled her into my arms. This was our third and last goodbye. Tears ran down my face, just as they are now while I type, I told her I loved her and how proud I was of her and that if things didn’t workout with him or the job she always had a place to come home to. I tried to fit in 22 years of advice into a five minute hug. I’m not sure she understood a word coming out of my mouth because by this time I was ugly crying. Her boyfriends words, “Its not goodbye forever just goodbye for now” echoed in my mind. But He don’t get it. He is moving back to his home city, near his parents and family. She is not. He will be able to see his mom anytime he wants, she will not. He will be minutes away from his family, she will be over six hours away from hers. So yes, I know this was not goodbye forever but it sure as hell felt like it. We hugged a for a few more minutes because I simply could not let go.
This morning I found myself sitting in her room, surrounded by emptiness. Not really sure how I even got in there. It was just me, the walls, my thoughts and my tears. Not all the tears were sad. We have raised a wonderful young lady. Yesterday as I talked with her professors they not only told me she was a wonderful student but they also talked about how great of a person she was and how much she will be missed.
Today has been hard on me, dare I say I have even been a little bitchy. But as her mom I am entitled to that. I know she will be okay and in a few days so will I. I know she will succeed in whatever she does. I know that no matter how far away she is or how old she becomes she will always be my baby girl. And most of all I know she loves me just as I love her. The room maybe empty but my heart is full of memories that will last a lifetime.