Caitlin left on Saturday afternoon, in the kindly care of her Uncle Ian. He and I don't always get along, but I can't tell you how much it meant to me that he jumped up and flew to NY with her just because it was the right thing to do. The cockles of my heart were appropriately warmed.
Since we had plenty of time, we spent a leisurely morning getting ready. There was some tickling,
some smooch withholding,
and some crazy faces.
In the end, however, someone was getting on an airplane and that someone wasn't going to be me. So we packed up this girl
and her gear and drove her to the airport.
We chatted about all the fun things she'd be doing while we were at home with the twins (Zoo trips! BBQs! Acquariums! Amusement parks!) and I did a pretty good job of keeping my tone light and happy.
However...when the time came to hug her and send her through security, I had a hard time letting go. Tears filled my eyes and love/fear/worry/happiness squeezed my heart as I hugged Caitlin one last time. I kissed her and with a throaty "I love you!", I sent her off while stuffing down the tears. I didn't want her to see me visibly upset and start off a firestorm of crying on her part.
Blinking rapidly, I took Emma back from Ian (both babies wanted to check out the weather from his lofty height) and sent her on her way.
While she has been away from home before, and for several weeks at a time, she's never been this far away from us. It was tough. Even though the possibility of something happening to her is remote, somehow letting her go that far away makes everything feel more momentous. As if every moment is a potential "last". As hard as it is being a parent, I think the "growing up" moments are harder emotionally than the fights. Each step forward towards independence is yet another step away from us and the relative safety of childhood.
Even as I recognize its inevitability, it's hard on the heartstrings. My baby isn't really a baby any more. She's an intrepid traveler and her adventure is just beginning.