I packed my little girl off to college and didn't shed a tear.
Well, I did get a little misty, but real tears? Nope. Not one.
It helped that I've been through the ritual with my two boys, so my perspective is shaded by optimism and accomplishment. She is in the right college with a terrific roommate surrounded by professors and friends I could not have done a better job choosing than if I had hand picked them myself.
I cleaned her empty room and lined up the stuffed animals thinking it was time to cull the crop. The downsizing list grew. The clutter shrank. No tears. Not one.
And then my husband told me folks were arriving to buy her wooden play kitchen. Pots and pans, too.
She was three years old when I found the kitchen of my childhood dreams. Cabinet doors. Shelves. Knobs that turned. Oven and burners. Heck. It even had a sink that could pump water.
Its first years were spent upstairs in our family room. I would fuss around my big kitchen, and she would rattle around hers. Even the boys were intrigued. Like the kitchen in a real home, her little kitchen was the center of laughter and talk. Conflicts and shouting happened, too. But, as in life, resolution and forgiveness was found among siblings hunched around tin pots and plastic spoons.
As she grew, her interests changed and the kitchen was relegated to the downstairs playroom - a.k.a. cellar. The kitchen became something boxes were placed on. Its role changed from main character to supporting player to side-lot extra.
And then new grandparents knocked on our door and carried it way.
Until that moment, the passage of time had been filled with accomplishments, growth, and possibilities. For the first time, I felt the loss of roads not traveled, time not spent, and doors forever closed.
My heart opened and the jumble of emotions that is life tumbled out.