Laurel has always been an uber attached kid. It was evident from the very beginning when she made it clear that she was not interested in budging from my womb at 42 weeks. It was evident when she was a baby, during which time she was happiest and most content in my arms. It was evident when our transitions to day care and kindergarten took months (yes, months) to shake out. Laurel has said that she'd like to live with me and Jon forever, and while I realize she is speaking through the lens of a five-year-old, I also have thought that it wouldn't be entirely out of the question if she did, in fact, hold this preference into adulthood. But over the last few months, Laurel has changed. Whether it's simply a function of age or the growth and change associated with kindergarten, her confidence has bloomed and she has come out of her shell. Though she remains cautious around strangers (something I'm actually glad for), she'll now say hello to checkout clerks. Previously one to cling to my hand, she'll now run many paces ahead of me en route to the playground. And we now can do drop off playdates with friends and she's happy as a clam, often begging for a sleepover by the end of the date.
And on Wednesday she ran into my in-laws's arms with a brief wave, smile, and "goodbye mommy" to me.
And no tears.
Except for mine.
We met up with my in-laws so Laurel could spend a few days of February vacation with them. My in-laws adore Laurel. She spent her first overnight with them after Christmas (she sobbed when we left but ultimately recovered quickly and had a great time). After that, my in-laws asked for more time with her over February vacation. This not only was awesome in general (for the first time we're navigating the world of public school vacations following the luxury of year-round day care), but it allowed me to book for Mom 2.0, which otherwise wasn't going to happen without help, since the last couple of weeks have been a bit crazy, with travel to Blissdom and the Bahamas.
And the love goes both ways. When we connected with Jon's parents, Laurel leapt into their arms. And when it was time to say goodbye, I was the one clutching her, covering her face with kisses. Ironically, Laurel did what the teachers always advised us to do on departure; she made the goodbye short and sweet and moved on.
She looked so, so happy.
As Jon and I watched Laurel walk away with my in-laws -- giggling and without so much as a glance over her shoulder -- my eyes filled with tears. My girl was growing up. The easy detachment and independence that I had long yearned for was finally here. I stood there waiting for her to turn around.
And oh how I ached to have her run back into my arms for one more hug.