Well, I'm glad that's over. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, taking my daughter to the airport, leaving her at security, trying not to let her see me cry.
I hugged her, turned around, and noticed an elevator with an open door. Blinking away my tears I dashed inside, found the control panel and jabbed at a button. Unfortunately it was the alarm button.
I eventually got away, negotiated my way out of the construction at Terminal 3, and onto the M25, which, during the middle of a bank holiday weekend, wasn't the usual stop-go, five-lane conveyor belt. Good thing. And a good thing my car knows the way home by itself; mopey as I was behind the steering wheel, I could have ended up in Watford.
These last few days Daughter Number Two and I have been overly polite to each other, each of us knowing our mother/daughter relationship was about to change drastically. I've been through this before, and I know darn well things are never the same after they leave home.
But on Friday I found myself snapping at her over silly things, instinctively recognizing a good mad would make it easier to say goodbye. That didn't last; by Saturday we were friends again, painfully polite friends.
The truth is, I've been dreading this day for 18 years, ever since I brought her home, counted her toes, and imagined her leaving for college one hazy day in the future. I've been actively mothering at least one child for 22 years, and now I feel like I've been laid off a job I loved.
Worst of all, that awful term "empty nest" now applies to me. Will someone please come up with a better description? I may have post-parenting blues, but I'm not a damn blue jay.
My inner psychologist, who sounds a little like Bob Newhart, is telling me it's time to concentrate on myself now, restart my own life that somehow got left behind these last few years of intensive teen rearing. And I will, maybe tomorrow.
But tonight I just want to mope a little more.