Leaving Home

She left on the Fourth of July, with her dad, whose job it is to run the camp in Alabama that she’s attending. That’s right. On a national holiday, she packed her bags and rolled away from me.


She’s fourteen. She’s living on a college campus. Her goalkeeping skills are being assessed at every turn by coaches from southern states. Big southern states. Big southern states where they grow their GKs bigger than my girl, who stands at 5’10.5″.

Mid-through, she called me in tears. Me, twelve hours away and probably, if I were to fly it, several connections through ridiculous,tiny airports. Now, I should know; this one has a flair for the dramatic. She is highs and lows. Laughter and hysterics. She felt that her mid-camp evaluation was bad. She hated the coach, whom she was sure hailed from Texas, a state we tend not to revere at our house. She was sad. She said she wanted to come home. She hated it. It was hard. She missed me.

And I clung to her sad-hearted words for a full twenty four hours, and I recalled my own mother. My own mother waits up still for me to call her after a long drive or a late night out. She worries about my tire pressure and my checking account and how I’m doing. And so when I hung up from my teary girl, all I had was her broken voice ringing in my hear for one full night and half of a day.

When she called me, a day later, laughing, it was fresh air and sunshine. It was brightness and glory. It was redemption and …. “I gotta go, Mom.”

I wanted to hear more. I wanted to hear why she felt that the morning session was so good. I wanted to know what she was giggling about with her roommate. I wanted to just hear her voice. Just one more minute.

But she was gone. She had things to do.

There are moments I have as a mom. They strike me out of the wild, like lightning on a blue-skied day. These moments are like whispered prayers from the saints. They are like promises and freedom and fear and celebration all in one flash-pan second. When I look at my daughter who is learning to drive and I can see her toothy two-year old smile and her way of identifying all the butterfulies. When I see this giant GK, the other daughter, and I can see her graduating for college. When I see my son, this little man who is still so innocent and loving at 10 and imagine him with a deep voice and an Adam’s apple and a girl giggling under his arm.

How do we send them off? With a whisper and a prayer and a hope. And a smile.