As we said good bye, a big fat tear rolled down a cheek.
But it wasn’t my tear, nor was it a tear of my Husband.
It was my daughter who cried the first tear. My stoic, tough, low on visible emotion daughter.
Who saw that coming? Certainly not me.
There I was, tissues in hand, waiting to bawl my eyes out. But then I saw that tear, I took a deep breath, and I went into Mom mode. I was thankful for all the sports movies I’ve ever seen as I gave the pre game pep talk: I’m so proud of you, you worked so hard for this moment, you are prepared for the battle ahead. I made a self deprecating joke and my daughter followed it up with a wise crack and a smile, and as I hugged her that final time she looked at me and said
I gave her a thumbs up and watched her walk away from us, across campus towards her dorm so she could change out of her dress from convocation into an outfit more acceptable for the afternoon orientation events. She didn’t turn back.
It’s then that the whining started. Not my daughter’s: she was practically skipping down the steps. Nor was it from me. It was my husband.
“She could have walked us to the gate.” he said. “She didn’t even turn back around to wave.”
So I didn’t cry. I consoled him. I talked straight to him.
“She needs to make a clean break. She still loves us. But this is the time she needs to become an adult. She needed to walk away from us in the middle of campus. She needed to head off into the future and not look back.”
“Well” he said. “I don’t like it.”
We got back to the hotel and loaded our stuff in the car, saying good bye to the concierge who had been consoling parents all morning. We began to drive north.
I did not cry.
We got home and greeted the pets, ordered Chinese food and put some things away.
I did not cry.
I met my friends for lunch on Monday, Mother’s who had just performed the same dropping off ritual that I had. They cried. I did not.
I dropped off dry cleaning yesterday- my dry cleaner sends her son off to college for the first time on the 30th. I watched her eyes well up as she spoke to me, because we are sisters in this: I know how she is feeling as she knows how I am. As I patted her shoulder I did not get weepy, I did not shed a tear.
Alas, as I spoke to my very special friend last night, I spoke of how I have not cried….yet. I know it will come- it’s inevitable. But I need to still be strong for my daughter. She is adjusting well so far, and I know when classes start today she will get better. She likes the routine that classes and activities give her. Neither one of us does well with unstructured time- we like routines and planners and all things like that. We like busy. So she will shed no more tears. She will thrive in her new environment of new studies and new friends.
Then- it will be my turn to cry.