I dropped Hope off at a little over 6 weeks ago. We talked once or twice a week on the phone, and over the last few weeks, we texted nearly daily.
Well, 44 days after dropping Hope off at college, I saw her yesterday.
Oh my, did I hug my baby girl.
The waves of love were nearly overwhelming. My chest was a little tight, and I fought back the single Chilly Willy tear as I held Hope to me. I smelled and dug my fingers in her hair. I looked at her skin. I turned her around and over like a baby to check her all over.
She giggled. She swatted my hands. And then she surrendered into my arms and exhaled.
And we stood there for a while.
Hope’s room was tidy! She admitted to cleaning up before I arrived, but it was clear that there was a decent sense of order to begin with. Clothes were hung up in the closet!!! She’s using her calendar. She’s working hard.
She looks good. Her hair is growing; her skin looks clear.
I met her friends. The boy with the blue afro. The girl with the emotional support cat. The girl who bounded down the hall like Tigger to say hello. They call Hope “Grandma” because she always wears a sweater and mother hens folks when they’ve consumed too much of things they have no business consuming (don’t even ask!).
We went shopping for sweaters, cruised Amazon for new sneakers to wear with the step team she tried out for and made last week.
She confessed not leaving campus much. She realizes that her social anxiety isn’t just anxiety but true blue introversion; peopleing can really be exhausting so she hangs with her small gang of friends.
I listened as she shared how much she misses me and Yappy and wants to come home for the weekend, but has real FOMO (fear of missing out) when the gang gets together on the weekends. We agreed she’d come home in a few weeks to go to the dentist, get a medication tune up and cuddle with Yappy on the couch.
She gobbled her favorite pizza at the local joint she frequents across the street from campus, and I showed her that she could walk to the local Family Dollar just a short walk down the hill from school.
We talked. We laughed. We scrolled Instagram together and shared some of our favorite hashtags to follow (mostly dog related).
I found a local diner and took her to brunch and caught her up on all the family stuff going on. Her cousin called while we were out, and I eavesdropped while they chatted business: coursework.
She proudly showed me her notebook where she has her whole college coursework career mapped out. I learned that somehow she’s taking 17 credit hours this semester; more than I would have recommended but she is pushing herself so she can wring everything out of this time.
My daughter is blossoming. She still giggles, but there’s a growing maturity that I can hear in her voice.
Over breakfast, I told her how incredibly proud I am of her and all she’s accomplished. She balked, asking me what and why? I reminded her of the first day we met. I shared how I saw a scared little girl in the body of a 12-year-old. I told her how I marveled at her commitment to survival up to that moment and through to this one. I told her how this year just marked so much change and accomplishment that it’s sometimes overwhelming to consider it all.
The reality is that Hope is in college. She says it’s hard, and it is, but she’s thriving.
I’m so blessed to have been a part of her journey. It’s such an honor to be her mom. I can’t imagine what life would be without her. There have been times when it has been so hard, but to see her thriving is just so beautiful.
This chapter of our journey is so…I’m not sure what the right words are to describe it. What I do know is that Hope has grown tremendously in these 44 days since she’s been away. It foreshadows a crazy transformation that is underway. It’s nothing short of magical to watch and be a part of.
So, Parents’ weekend was amazing. Hope is amazing. We’re amazing. 😊
BTW—Hope wants more questions! She’s serious about wanting the share her experiences as a FFY and an adoptee, so yeah, send questions!