The Birthday Week

So – I’ve spent the last month trying to balance my emotional ups and downs – sometimes successfully and sometimes not. I decided to get off the roller coaster for a while and just enjoy spending time with my daughter, who was home for her “birthday week”. While here, she intended to take care of the last lingering business connected with her life here, and then move all of her belongings to her new home in Dallas.

When Clothes Attack

Her first order of business was to visit our doctor for blood work to make sure she actually has red blood in her veins again  rather than pink water (Reality Check). YAY – her blood count is back to normal. While she was there, she mentioned that her shoulder really hurt, was examined, sent for an MRI, and will be coming back September 1st for a consult with an orthopedist. Why? Because two weeks ago, while trying on a lovely vintage cocktail dress at a resale shop, my tiny daughter got stuck in the dress (yes, stuck in the dress), wrenched her shoulder attempting to get out of it, and had to cut herself free using her Swiss Army knife. Her doctor didn’t even laugh at her since last week he had a patient actually arrive at his office straight from the mall with a dislocated shoulder, still entangled in a dress – I never realized that competitive shopping was a dangerous sport. Em’s biggest complaint, other than the constant pain, is that since she slit the seam, she felt compelled to pay for a dress that she characterized as seriously unflattering. My biggest complaint is that my child now has a torn tendon in her left shoulder and may need surgery again. Since she almost bled to death after her last surgery, I am really not eager to go down that road again!

Rushing Towards Her Future

Next on her list was to finally defend her capstone project for her degree. She missed her originally scheduled defense because she was in the hospital recovering from the aforementioned hemorrhage, and this was the first time that she and her committee members had all been in the same state. She held it together, acquitted herself well,  and was congratulated by her committee, who were luckily unaware that in her terror she had misremembered the time of her defense and almost missed it. To round out her week, she interviewed with a prospective graduate advisor, who welcomed her to the program and helped her finalize arrangements to start school part-time in two weeks.

The rest of her plan involved finding full time work. She spent July in Dallas applying for jobs, becoming more and more discouraged because she was not receiving much feedback – even in Dallas the job market is tight for recent college graduates. A long shot application went to a private university searching for an administrative assistant for the Dean of the College of Business. Something in her resume caught their interest, she successfully completed both phone and face to face interviews, and while she was here, she received news that she had been selected. She is relieved to have landed a reasonably well paid position in a very tight job market. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the image of my daughter serving as the gatekeeper and organizational staff for the busy dean of a nationally ranked business graduate program – my daughter who turned 22 last week and sometimes loses important papers in her car…. Her last employer, who is a friend, assures me that at work she is well organized, detail oriented, and very self directed, so I will just have to trust that the messy, scatter brained girl who I see at home shows a much different face to the rest of the world.

Birthday à la The Gilmore Girls

As mentioned earlier, my daughter (influenced by a long term obsession with the Gilmore Girls) believes that birthdays should be celebrated for at least a week, topped off by a dinner of her favorite foods prepared by her dad and I, and served to a group of her favorite people , concluding with singing and cake. Every year is slightly different, sometimes with a theme and sometimes not. She has never believed in the inadvisability of mixing age groups or circles of friends – she just invites who she wants, they generally come and everyone has a great time.  19 involved a visit to the zoo and lasagna for her closest college friends and our closest family friends. At 20, since she had just moved into a house in town with a roommate, she and her roommate had a huge potluck party inviting her friends, her roommate’s friends, our friends,and everyone’s dogs. At one point there were 10 dogs, children ranging from 1 to 15, young married couples, single professionals, grad students, middle aged married couples, the recently paired, and wild college kids. No one was bitten, nothing was broken, and no one had too much to drink or threw up until after the “grownups” and the children left. Last year involved a tiara and dinner for ten at her favorite restaurant, topped off with a giant margarita to celebrate turning 21.

I don't usually do guilt, but this year with the cake I did feel guilty. One of these cakes is the one I would have liked to make, one is the type I usually make, and one is the one I actually made. Guess which is which...

This year she decided on hamburgers at our house for family friends, followed by carrot cake. It sounds simple – except that we are remodeling, our oven ceased to work 3 weeks ago and has not been repaired, and an invasion of company requires a level of cleaning that I had not planned to do. Oh well, my only child only turns 22 once, so we managed to finish most of the bathroom remodel, cleaned like maniacs, bought and prepared food, made a carrot cake and baked it in my neighbor’s oven, and managed to have almost everything together when guests arrived. I didn’t discover until I went to put candles on the cake that they had  been destroyed by household pests and disposed of by my husband. In searching for a substitute, we discovered the cleansing candles I bought at a voodoo shop in New Orléans,  so Em ended up with a birthday celebration and a spiritual and psychic cleansing at the same time. She received a phone call about her new job in the middle of cake, so perhaps the process was beneficial.

Letting Go

Finally, the birthday week came to an end. We loaded all of her things into a U-Haul trailer and transported her to  her new home in a new city. She is happy, excited about the new possibilities in her life, and a little scared. Her dad and I are holding on to one another for dear life – I wonder if all parents feel this way when their children fly away for real – not to college, or in the same town, when they know that they are still their child’s first call, first line of defense, but when they have to accept that their child really is capable of caring for herself and is creating a new support network. I am happy for her, so proud I could burst, but periodically and unexpectedly tearful. I guess I am still working on acceptance – I miss the little girl who liked to nap on my lap.


3 comments on “The Birthday Week

  1. Not Over It says:


    I know how you feel. In June my husband and I helped our last child get settled in a new town for her first job after earning her PharmD. It was hard to leave her there. But she has already been asked to interview for a promotion so she must be doing well. Like you, it’s now just a matter of me accepting it. I miss the days when all three kids were home and meal time was busy and noisy and loving – most of the time.

    But I now have time for zumba and line dance and walking away my troubles. And for taking a hard look at my life and where I want to go from here. I’m glad for online friends who make the going a little easier. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Caroline says:

    Hugs to you.

    Good luck


  3. Lady E says:

    Reading your post made me smile at the parallel between your daughter becoming an adult already, and my little ones, still little and growing-up so fast. What gets left of life once they have gone?

    Your daughter sounds like a fine young woman though, and that’s got to be a credit to her mum:)
    Take care!

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