The living room, our school area and the armchair and most of the sofa and a good bit of the hearth, is her packing area: Dorm Packing Central, I joke. She washes new blue dishes and slides them between bath towels to keep them from cracking. She unpacks bedroom closet and claims she "can't edit" her wardrobe, sounding more like Rachel Zoe than my familiar grounded daughter.
Her zebra-striped luggage yawns wide, and she folds a zebra-print dress, tucking it into the suitcase's wide mouth. I sigh, not allowing myself to think of missing her.
It's going to be a hard couple of days. Today, after work, she continues packing. Tomorrow afternoon we update her immunizations and perhaps see Inception with her best local friend. Friday afternoon we check her in at 2:00 PM--into her new home for the next nine months.
It just doesn't seem possible.
I can't plan for Monday's first day of our new year of home schooling the boys when my school area looks like a fashionista's hurricane. She tells me "what's in" this fall, gloating over her olive green military jacket, her long black trench, her cream-and-lace over-jumper which hangs nearly to her knees, the arms beautifully tucked. She pairs it with pale purple top--her color this year--khaki skinny jeans and high wedges. She's captivated. I am, too.
And I mourn.
My little girl, so grown up.
Is this fashionable young woman the same one whom I taught to read, whom I educated for all but one year of her schooling? She grins with excitement, one of her many lists clutched in her hand, preparing to leave, to move into Nease Hall at Point Loma Nazarene University. Fifty miles away. It seems farther than that.
I remember my own days of packing for the PLNU dorms, of being so excited and so scared. She has many advantages I didn't: Facebook groups to meet fellow incoming freshmen months in advance, learning who her roommate is ahead of time so they can text each other regarding fridges and printers, room decor and snacks. I didn't meet my roommates until I arrived; we were four to a room. She and Jessica share a smaller room in what used to be the sophomore dorms, back when I attended, twenty-five years ago.
She continues tucking half of her bedroom into black-and-white striped luggage: boots, bomber jacket, the cool purple argyle socks she couldn't resist at Target. She continues placing my heart there, too, the heart that will go wherever she does. I hope for texting so that we can communicate during our days, so that I won't disturb her in class, at work, while hanging out with new friends. But she can disturb me. Any time.
I pray. For her, my girl. For me, the only female left in the house. (Yes even the dog and both rats are male, not to mention three boybarians and a dear husband.) Our evenings will be quiet...too quiet. But at least she'll be home most weekends--the advantage of moving only 50 miles away. I'll pick her up after her Friday afternoon classes; we'll drop her off after Sunday church and lunch.
It's a letting go. The first one. The hardest one. I will not be leaving her on Friday after she unpacks the van and starts arranging her room; I'll be there for New Student Orientation the rest of Friday and all day Saturday. I'm sure I'll have tears. It's natural. Even expected.
The first chick is trying her wings. Momma Bird looks on, proud and sad at same time--missing her so much. Already.
Parenting is so beautiful, and so sweet, and sometimes, bittersweet.
Letting go a wee bit at a time,