Yesterday, I made a hotel reservation.
Not a huge deal, really. I'm not even paying money for it because I get a lot of reward points for a certain hotel chain as a perk of the day job. We're going away for the weekend in mid-October, just her and me.
Just her and me, and the college she wants to see, four hours away.
She'll tour the campus and the dorms, learn about financial aid and workstudy programs, eat in the Student Union building and get the lowdown on campus life from peers. We'll meet with professors from her field of study, and we'll see what there is to see in the town around the campus.
I had to promise her I wouldn't cry. I'm hoping to hold it until I get in the car for the drive home.
I've told her many times, there is nothing I want more for her than a full, happy and independent life. I want her to shake the dust of this small town off her feet and trod the world. I want her to wring every single second out of that life of hers and I don't want her looking over her shoulder wondering about me or her brother or her father. Her eyes should stay forward, and she should move forward.
But oh, baby girl. I just haven't really faced before just how much I'm going to miss you. These years of single motherhood have been punctuated with your sly wit, your hilarious, exuberant humor, your fierce loyalty and your razor-sharp ability to check me when I need it. I could have never dreamed all that you've become.
College is less than two years away, now. This is only the first of a series of visits, I know. You'll make your choice, and you'll pack your bags, and you'll go.
And I'll be fine. I'll be crying, but I'll be brilliantly, ecstatically happy for you even as I grieve you being gone. That's the nature of motherhood. If I do my job right, I become obsolete.
Sing me out, Billy Ray. I need to grab some more Kleenex.