My daughter has been visiting for the past two weeks and two days, the longest she has visited Chicago since moving to Houston a year ago. This visit has been especially nice because she and her boyfriend have spent quite a bit of time with us. We've had dinners out and dinners at home, a mother-daughter shopping trip, and LOTS of conversation. We talked about music and books and her friend from kindergarten who just got engaged. She's also gotten to see some Chicago friends and spent time with her boyfriend's family.
Then this past weekend she somehow hurt her neck and came home from visiting elsewhere in a lot of pain. On Sunday it was no better so I took her to urgent care, where we were reassured by the diagnosis of muscles in spasm -- painful, but so much better than, say, a slipped disc. She got Vicodin for the pain and zoned out for the rest of the day in bed.
It was a return to the mom duties of years past. I brought her ginger ale and saltines (the Vicodin made her nauseous). We rearranged pillows to make her comfortable. I made tasty snacks. I ran up and down the stairs fetching things. In short, I fussed over her. I did not resent one second of that time.
Then yesterday my husband drove her to a doctor appointment in Chicago (different doctor, not connected to the neck). From there she was going to visit friends in Chicago and then take the train to her boyfriend's house. I was worried about her traveling around with the painful neck and maybe being dopey from the drugs, but I just said, "Call someone if you need help." She's very capable, I knew she would be okay.
But after they left, I felt bereft. It was the feeling when each of my children had gone to college. It took me by surprise. After all, I'm going to see her before she flies back to to Houston. Following a brief, teary interval, I realized that for about two days, I had gotten to slip back into the mom role of the past. When your kiddos are little, you are the caretaker, physically responsible for your children's well-being. But eventually that role recedes and you become the advice giver, cheerleader, and companion. For those couple of days, she really needed me in a very concrete way. I even went in to check on her and gave her a good-night kiss (which she probably doesn't remember in her drug-induced haze).
So when she leave for Texas today, I will feel sad, but just the normal amount of sadness. She has her own life, with her own goals to pursue, and I'm very proud of her. And she'll be back!