I traveled to another country with my daughter and I left her there.
In the cab on my way to the airport in pre-dawn darkness with her apartment – excuse me, flat — fading from view, I went over the past week in my head. It seemed I’d blinked and suddenly all the planning and problems and logistical hiccups had passed and now it was time for me to go.
Oddly, I felt good. Better than good, I felt calm. Better than calm, I felt genuinely excited for her new adventure. She was going to be just fine.
I didn’t always believe this. Oh, hell no.
In fact, when she asked me to accompany her my knee-jerk reaction was an emphatic NOPE. You made this crazy, impulsive decision, my crushed heart shouted to my brain, I am not helping you with this. I was hurt. She was already living 2,000 miles from home. How far was far enough?
But this wasn’t about me. Knee-jerks aside, I knew that.
She’d accepted a London position within her company and immediately began purging her possessions, returning home to finalize her transition and prepare.
For the first time in nearly a decade she shared our home yet none of our past skirmishes – the hair in the shower, the food under the bed, the sleeping until midday – surfaced. She cooked dinners and hung around with our friends and managed all the details of her departure with a skip in her step. It was as if we both knew our time was fleeting and the petty spats of her youth remained mocking memories.
It was indeed awesome but not without headaches – or facial tics.
For six weeks I bore witness to how a millennial plans things. Fun fact: it’s a wee bit different than how a mom does. As her exit loomed, I became increasingly anxious at all the open loose ends of her international move but she was having none of it. At the risk of having my plus-one status revoked, I zipped it and ignored my growing apprehensions.
I took a deep breath and stole a mantra from my bestie who’d declared, at the start of her very first year as a new divorcee, a Year of Yes: 365 days of saying yes to every invitation, social suggestion or life opportunity that arose. Well, if she could do that, I marveled, sensing my own whine, and put on my Big Girl panties.
I declared this trip my own Week of Yes and went along with everything – and anything – that came up. Despite my daily dread or dogged reservations or downright disagreements with her many decisions, I went with the flow – her flow (Mom, it’s FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE) – and forced myself to chill out.
We left as soon as her Visa came – without her replacement bank card having arrived yet, without a guaranteed – or signed – lease and without any idea where we’d be sleeping on Night 2.
There were at least a dozen other unresolved open loose ends when we arrived.
She closed them one by one, taking some lumps for a couple of impulsive decisions, but in the end, everything worked out.
I allowed her to adult her way through every obstacle and steered clear of Mom Mode, resisting the urge to whip out a credit card for every expense or offer unsolicited advice.
I forced myself to stay silently in the background, left my phone turned off for the week and became, simply, the weighted blanket in the room.
While she researched and placed calls and signed reams of documents I read and did crossword puzzles and sat in the café chair facing the room like a mob boss, happy to people watch while she did her thing.
The many logistics were overwhelming. Selling all her life’s stuff, moving across an ocean and (oy, don’t get me started) coordinating shipment of a beloved dog was intense – as well as fraught with false starts and wire transfers and problems we didn’t anticipate.
I followed her around all week while she mastered the tubes – both over and underground.
I helped lug all her bedding (via the tubes) back to her place.
I drank as many pints as was necessary to become accustomed to all the neighborhood pubs near her new home address (this task, no surprise, a cinch).
I uttered not a syllable of complaint about sharing tiny beds or rooming with massive spiders (come on Brits – install window SCREENS!) and laughed it off when a lock of my hair hit the ground, burnt straight off using the wrong blow dryer.
It turns out, my calm demeanor proved to be a salve to her frazzled brain.
At the conclusion of the week over some wine, she thanked me for letting her figure it all out without any judgement.
So while I rode away in that cab, I found my initial throat-grip of worry had simmered to a slight buzzing beneath the surface that I embrace pretty much every day for all my children, regardless of their ages. Truly, that’s motherhood. Just another day I suppose.
She’s one of the most competent young adults I know, a rarity, for sure.
But it was still hard saying goodbye.
I tackled a myriad of feelings that week, mostly fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of leaving this tiny and beautiful creature in a place without knowing a soul, fear of everything Keith Morrison and Dateline duly taught me. But I never felt doubt.
I left her with an old photo of the two of us, in it her tiny toddler face radiating with badass confidence and fearlessness and I wrote on the back We Do Hard Things.
Because we do.
And we did.
And will continue to.
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and has been featured in Huff Post. S he appeared in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone” presenting her popular essay The Thinking Girl’s Thong and her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series. That said, she still places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements (next would be as the $100,000 winner on that home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook & @Eyerollingmom on Instagram. Her collection of essays, A Momoir, can be found here