And she is off..
In the journey that we call ‘Parenthood’, there comes a time where we ourselves must reach a major milestone. In their lives, we do everything we can to hold our babies tight and protect them from harm. That leash is held firm, directing them in what we feel is the right direction. We keep our babies close by our sides, keeping tabs on their every living moment until one day, we let that leash out a little further. Eventually, we’re supposed to let go of the leash completely. But really, do we ever truly let it go?
I remember the first time my parents were far away from me. I was 7. Like my own marriage, my parents never had a true honeymoon. They married and my father had to start a new school year at the University of Arkansas three days later. As for George and myself, though we had good intentions to take a few days to ourselves after our wedding, we both unfortunately lost our paternal grandfathers and I essentially went from the church to the plane to LIT to attend my grandfather’s funeral.
On their 10th Anniversary, my parents left me here in Arkansas while they flew to Colorado for a week. I remember being bored for several days and then being ‘rescued’ by my parents’ best friends and being asked to sleep over and spend some time with their daughter (still today, she’s one of my BFFs).
I remember the first time I went on a trip without them. I didn’t just cross state lines. I spent the week in Canada. I was sixteen. I did it again the following summer. It’s a memory I cherish and speak about often.
Kathryn has spent the week just a few miles away at my parents’ house in Searcy while George and I worked, as I don’t trust her quite yet to care for herself during the three hours between when George leaves for work and I wake up for the day.
On Wednesday, I received a phone call from my Aunt. My cousin’s father (my aunt’s ex-husband) is ailing and I feared the phone call was regarding him. Thankfully, I was wrong.
“We were wondering if Kaci would like to come with us to Six Flags in Arlington for the weekend?”. Will she? This child could not get enough of the roller coaster in the Mall of America when I took her two years ago. This same child goes head over heels over any fair I take her to… However, this same child also turned an interesting shade of green in October when she was taken on a pretty intense ride by ArkieMomma’s Tootie. But, for the most part, she loves amusement parks.
“Sure! She’d love to go!!”.
And so, I was now heading to my parents with extra clothes, long pants, a jacket and a bathing suit to surprise Kathryn with the news that she was not coming home until Sunday, now (instead of today, as was originally planned). “But Texas is SO far away, mommy,” she said, nearly in tears. She was remembering our 7-hour drive to Galveston a couple of years ago.. And the drive through Amarillo many years ago on our way to Roswell to see my husband’s family. “It’s not that far,” I reassured her. “It’s the same distance as driving to Grandma and Grandpa’s in Missouri.”
Once I showed her photos of where she was going with her (triplet!) cousins, all was suddenly well. “Are you coming too?” she asked, hopeful. “No, baby, I have to work. But, I know you’ll have fun!”
And so, I’m letting that leash loose just a little more today. My baby is crossing state lines without me. I’ve called my mother three times to make sure she packed everything. I’ve called my cousin, Kerry, just as many times to remind her to give her allergy medicine if needed (despite the fact that both Kerry and her husband are registered nurses). I’ve told her that Kathryn can wash her own hair and I’ve given Kerry the guided tour of what should be packed. I’ve also reminded her to not forget Kathryn’s DS in Texas.
My baby is going on her first big girl trip today without mom and dad. She’s been in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and Oklahoma, but they’ve all been with us. I hope she has fun. Pictures will be courtesy of her Aunt Kerry.
As for me… I think I’ll just wait to re-paint my nails until I know she’s safely home, so that I don’t chip them from all the biting I’ll be doing over the weekend.