Today should have been “Happy Bellies Day”. (And just for the record, I know that some of you are thinking it should be Happy Belly’s Day. But it’s not.)
“Happy Bellies Day” is the day my youngest and I make a Happy Bellies Bake Shop run, indulging our sweet tooth (should it be sweet teeth since I ‘m talking about the two of us?) with scrumptious, vegan baked goods, and assuaging our need for the caffeinated goodness of iced coffee.
But sadly, this week there will be no “Happy Bellies” Day. This week, my baby (Alli) is working at a volleyball camp in New York, so I am all by my lonesome.
Oh…except for this little bundle of sunshine (and my husband, of course):
So today, I decided to turn “Happy Bellies” Day with Alli, into “PetSmart Day” with Quinnie.
Let’s just say that trying to control a 60 pound, super excited dog through the aisles of PetSmart while carrying a Hugh Jass bag of dog food, and an economy size box of “Greenies” was not nearly as much fun as eating vegan cupcakes and donuts with Alli. Not nearly as much fun at all.
This past Monday, I drove Alli to Milwaukee and put her on a plane. My typical MO is to put on a pair of sunglasses when dropping children off at school, or at airports, in a strategic attempt to conceal my tears. The kids are amused. This time, however, I was forbidden to cry.
I believe the following words were spoken:
“Mom, I’m only going to be gone a week!”
True. Can’t argue with that.
So I did it. I managed to hold it together.
When asked if she wanted me to go in with her, she easily replied that I could just drop her off in the departure area. So I did. I pulled the car along side the curb near the DELTA doors, popped the trunk, got out of the car and helped her remove her luggage. I asked her if she had her license, already knowing she did. My sunglasses remained perched on top of my head, while giving her a big hug. Climbing back into the car, I watched in the mirror as she confidently walked into the big, scary airport. All. By. Herself.
…suitcase rolling behind her, backpack strapped onto her shoulders, purse strung diagonally across her chest, baseball cap fashionably adorning her cascading blonde hair, leggings, white t-shirt. She didn’t look like my little girl. She looked like an adult.
Then I cried.
No real surprise there. I mean I’ve been crying every time we’ve dropped off a kid since 2011. I’ve gotten quite good at it.
But this time it felt strangely different. The feeling did not diminish as it usually did.
So all week long, I’ve been reflecting, trying to figure out why. And I think I’ve begun to understand why there’s a bit of emptiness lingering in my heart.
The difference is, this summer my daughter became my friend.
The child Alli has been replaced by the adult Alli. This summer, I became aware of a confident young woman with an incredible amount of common sense; someone calm and matter of fact when faced with difficult situations. I have become more aware of her kindness, her thoughtfulness, her helpfulness. I’ve watched as she’s discovered who she is, realized what she stands for, and discerned what’s important to her. There is no doubt in my mind that she will find her niche in life. She has a lot to offer this world.
And as she’s grown and matured, our relationship has transitioned. I’m still her mom. I’ll always be there for her. But the parenting aspect is changing…and in a good way.
So this week I’ve missed my friend. I’ve missed our daily chats, I’ve missed our deep discussions about the future, about life, and about God. I’ve missed my chocolate chip cookie dough and banana ice cream companion. I’ve missed my workout buddy. I’ve missed my shopping partner. I’ve missed my homework/schoolwork sidekick. I’ve missed my hair stylist. I’ve missed my “Happy Bellies Day” comrade. I’ve missed my forever smiling, glass half full, friend.