I swear, she did NOT look that grown up when she left!

My baby girl is growing up!  Logically, I know this, but my heart easily forgets and is always a little pinged when faced with the reality.  A little over a week ago, she went on a fabulous vacation with her friend’s family.  When the idea first came up, I knew it would be a tremendous experience for her and that there was really no way I could say no (and feel okay with it).  I also remember fondly the vacations my family took as a child, often with a favorite friend along.

The family who invited her are our closest “family” friends.  We don’t get to spend a lot of time together, as families, because the husband works on the road.  When he’s home, though, we almost always have an evening playing games, talking, eating and drinking wine (or gluten-free beer).  L stays the night over there so much that we joke about paying child support.  The mom in the family, one of my best friends, was in attendance for my youngest child’s birth…and let’s face it, once you’ve seen someone give birth, how much closer can you really be?

They went to Disney World, which had an additional heartstrings-pull because I went there so much as a child myself (my dad lives *right there*).  She’s been there once before, but she was a toddler and has no memories of it.  I knew she would enjoy it this time, that she’s getting close to that age where she’s “too old” to really enjoy it, that it might be a long time before we can go, and I knew that my friend’s daughter would have much more fun if she had a friend along.  So, the plans were made and the money saved.  She worked hard around the house, earning $150 spending money (and getting another $100 from grandma).  We bought new shoes because her feet grow insanely fast and she’s always outgrowing them.  We tie-dyed shirts with mickey heads on them, we made lists of what to bring and finally, we packed for the big day.

When K arrived to pick her up, I held it together.  I gave her a big hug, told her to have tons of fun and all that stuff.  Then, I teared up.  My wise friend saw this and whisked her away before I could dissolve into a blubbering mess (I’m known by my “sappiness”, which all my kids make fun of).  As the door shut behind them, I silently wished for them to have the best trip EVER and then I teared up again thinking of just how much fun she was going to have…fun that had absolutely nothing to do with me!

Isn’t that how it’s supposed to happen, though?  At some point, I will no longer be the source of my children’s entertainment, happiness, irritation or any number of endless emotions/thoughts/actions we go through during the days we spend together.  Yes, it will probably develop over time…increasing frequency of activities, sleepovers with friends, mixed family vacations…and, at some point, they will be gone.  Oh sure, they’ll come visit (I hope), but it won’t be like it is now.  I won’t take days to write a single paragraph because the tiny one needs to nurse or the oldest one wants to watch the newest “Glee”.  I will be able to pee alone or eat an entire bar of chocolate!  And, I’ll miss it.  I know I will, because I missed her more than I thought I would.

I missed the weirdest things!  I missed how she comes out in the morning (or afternoon) all grumpy-looking, but perks up quickly.  I missed how she sits with me at night, after all the other kids have gone to bed, playing on Pinterest or looking at random stuff on the internet.  I missed how her hugs seem to fit perfectly into my arms and I missed fighting with her about how a jacket is NOT the same as a coat.

With her favorite Disney character (which she bought a GIANT stuffed version of)

When I started to title this post, I first went with “Magic Ears and Happy Tears”, but changed it to “Magic Ears Followed by Not-So-Magic Tears” because I thought well, they weren’t exactly happy tears!  Then, as I wrote this, I changed it back…realizing that they are, indeed, tears of happiness:  Happiness that she’s moving into a new stage of her life, happiness that she feels confident in her relationships to not only leave me for a week but also to be with another family (in a strange place surrounded by strangers!), happiness that she can have experiences outside of what I can give her.

I also have tears of happiness at my amazing luck.  K is also a Disney fanatic who kept a journal to post about everything (and I do mean everything) on the Disney boards.  She sent me the link to her posts and I’ve been able to see/read all the things that happened.  I read about the magic that L experienced, see the pictures and get to feel like a tiny part of it.  I am so lucky to have a friend who was able to give this experience to *both* my daughter and me.