Every time I think I have this "letting go" thing down, it bounces right up and smacks me in the face. I've had plenty of occasions to write about my girls moving out and moving on (See here and here). In fact, daughter #3 has, just in the past week, signed up for her dorm room -- meaning we are on the official move-out-countdown. "It's okay," I tell myself. "It's good." "It's normal."
Yesterday, I was anxiously awaiting the Postwoman because I was expecting Jordan's wedding invitations. (Yes! I'm invited to my own daughter's wedding!) Actually, she's handled the ordering and addressing and stamping all from Utah, so while we have talked about these invitations ad infinitum, I had yet to see them in real life (IRL). Finally, at about 5:30, the post arrived. And it was there! A shimmering, dark green envelope just sitting in my mailbox. I grabbed it and raced inside. I opened it carefully, pulled the cards out and read each line carefully.
At the same time the television was on in the background. After reading through the invitation I swung around to see Cookie Monster, advertising the new Siri On-Demand feature. Instantly, I was reminded of an incident involving a two-year-old Jordan and Cookie Monster:
When Jordan and Madison were wee babes they were obsessed with the Sesame Street characters. They watched the show, played pretend Sesame Street, talked about Elmo endlessly. So, when I saw an advertisement that the Sesame Street characters were coming to Sea World, I decided we would put what little vacation money we could scrape together towards a trip to San Antonio. My babies needed to see Big Bird. Once in the park, we attended the scheduled Sesame Street show, wherein the larger-than-life characters danced and sang. When the show ended, I just knew Jordan would want to see the characters up close and personal. She seemed reticent about actually approaching them, so I swung her up on my hip and marched to the front of the theater. Jordan was mesmerized. I was mentally patting myself on the back for making my baby's dreams come true.
As I held her, I pointed out Big Bird. And Ernie. And Elmo. And then Cookie Monster started moving right towards us! "How lucky!" I thought. Cookie Monster approached Jordan and reached out to pat her little tummy. As those furry blue fingers met her little strawberry romper, Jordan let out a primal scream. She arched her back and almost seemed to convulse for a moment. I did my best to keep her from flailing to the ground and quickly retreated.
She was inconsolable. She cried. And sobbed. And after a good five minutes, she finally looked me in the eye and screamed out, "Cookie Monster touched me!" Her rage was part fear and part blame. How could I have allowed such a travesty to occur? For the next hour or so she inhaled raggedly, muttering to herself, "Cookie Monster touched me." Honestly, I'm surprised she didn't require some type of trauma counseling. We did hug on her a lot and promised a Cookie Monster restraining order. Over time, the "Cookie Monster touched me" mantra became somewhat of a catch phrase, reminding us of those moments when our kids needed an extra hug and some added protection.
It's difficult for me to convey here how this memory tore me open inside. Maybe it's the realization that I'm no longer in charge of making her dreams come true. Maybe it's a mourning for the loss of that sweet little baby girl. Maybe it's an understanding that I'm not her sole protector, that my role in her life is moving further and further to the periphery. I'm sure it's a combination of these factors. But it hurts. And there's nothing for me to do about it, except to feel this uncomfortable pit in my stomach and to write about that glorious, spunky baby of mine.