Last night, when I pulled into my driveway, I saw the most incredible thing. Normally I wouldn't have believed it, but for days I had been waiting for this exciting moment, so I knew that it had to be real. In front of my own eyes, there it was: Autumn's car.
My heart leapt out of my chest. My Autumn was finally back from her first year of college. This time, she wasn't only back for a quick dinner or laundry run. This time, she was back for the summer. This was still her home. I'm sure I will blink and her home will be across the city or maybe even across the country one day, but for now, this is still her home.
Everything was right in the world again. My baby was back. I checked every inch of her like a monkey for lice, weird piercings and of course, tattoos. She was clear of the lice and piercings, but what I was surprised to find was a small tattoo on the inside of her wrist.
I never thought of Autumn as a girl with a tattoo, but the first year of college always brings immeasurable growth and surprising changes. I tried to mask my shock, but I'm sure she could see it peaking through (I'm not the actor in the family).
Why hadn't she told me about this? More importantly, what on earth did it mean? When I calmly (or my version of calmly) asked her what it was, she explained that it said, "אני אוהבת אתה עד הירח ובחזרה" - "I love you to the moon and back again," in Hebrew.
"It's what you and dad have always said to me since I was a little girl. I started to really miss you guys this past week and this just reminds me of you...that's all."
A knot formed in the back of my throat and tears formed in my eyes. Not only had she actually paid attention in Hebrew school, but she honestly missed me and her father. Tattoo or no tattoo, I couldn't be happier. She probably misunderstood my tears, because she quickly added, "Don't worry, mom! It's only in pen!"
The following night, Autumn went out with some of her friends. "Text me when you get there! What time are you coming home? Wear a jacket!" It was like she was back in high school again.
At 1 AM that morning, I lay awake in my bed, cell phone in hand, waiting for the dogs to bark, or the sound of the gate, or any sign that she had gotten home safely. I sat there waiting for her just as I had a year ago, only now she didn't have a curfew. Now she was an independent woman, and I desperately wanted to turn back the clock. I wanted her home by 11...in fact, I wanted her asleep by 11, in my arms as I rocked her back and forth singing lullabies.
Just then, my phone buzzed. I brought it to my face so quickly that it almost flew out of my hand. The text read, "Hey mommy...I'm on my way home, so don't worry!"
Every muscle in my body relaxed. As I dropped my cell phone and drifted off to sleep, I decided I wouldn't change a thing. My daughter was growing up to be a responsible young woman who, despite her newfound independence, still loves her mommy...
...and I love her, right up to the moon and back again.
This post originally appeared at Carpool, Couture and Cocktails.