Watching That U-Haul Drive Away

04/17/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

It's not as though I didn't know this day would come and, in most respects, it's not as though I didn't want it to come, but watching the U-Haul loaded with my daughter and all her belongings drive down the block brought me to tears. I don't remember crying when she left for college because I knew then that she'd be back. Today, though, meant that she was going to be starting her new life with her boyfriend in the condo they just purchased. It's an impressive accomplishment, one that makes me proud and pleased that they are well on their way, but it also puts a lump in my throat.

A couple years ago, when I ended up buying back the house my ex and I sold years earlier as part of the divorce agreement, my daughters moved back with me, the oldest forewarning me that she wouldn't be living with me for too long since she intended to buy her own place soon. "Yeah, yeah," I said, while updating the cottage in the backyard for her to move into; maybe I was hoping she'd never want to leave. But that's not the natural order of things and leave she did, which gave me a glimpse into the future.

It's a cliche, no doubt, but yesterday that grown up child was a baby in my arms, a baby I protected as best I could. Then that baby got older and I tried to build her self-esteem, combating the school bully's taunts making fun of my daughter's beautiful Asian eyes. There were the trips to the mall that went from buying Tomboy shirts and pants to tailored blouses and designer jeans. And then there was that shopping venture to buy her prom dress. You sure it looks okay? How could I let her know it looked far more than okay; it looked downright dangerous--at least from a mother's perspective.

My youngest daughter is now packing up her things to trek back and forth from the house to the cottage, gleeful that her sister has finally moved so that she can now have that long-desired space, but I'm sure much too soon she'll be loading up a U-Haul and heading out to make her own way in the world. I understand now why parents who experienced what I experienced today get emotional when their children move away or take that walk down the aisle--some of those tears are from suddenly feeling unnecessary.