• Tara Fitzgerald

For crying out loud


I am a self-confessed crier. I cry at anything remotely emotional or sentimental. I cry at weddings, funerals, birthdays and I am usually a mess at Thanksgiving when I toast my blessings around my table. My children still watch for that moment when mom breaks down during sappy movies. They spent their childhoods smirking as I choked up during bedtime stories. All that to say, I do not possess that which is known as “a stiff upper lip.” I can honestly say, in this age of self-acceptance, I am generally fine with that. Last week though, when I took my 22-year-old daughter to the airport for an educational excursion in Europe, I promised myself that under no circumstances would I shed a single tear.

My daughter and I planned to spend departure day together packing, drinking cups of tea and asking each other questions that all start with “Did you…?” However, our pleasant afternoon was thwarted by a faulty luggage scale. Packing for a two-month trip to Italy to uncover exciting and rare finds such as Roman roads is not a task for the faint of heart. Just the work boots alone are enough to put you over the weight restriction, never mind a redhead’s supply of sunscreen! We packed, repacked, removed items and then swapped out the suitcase for a duffle. This exercise in frustration did little to ease the nerves of my intrepid explorer, especially when no matter what we did the darn scale still said her bag was too heavy. A wise mother knows NOT to make suggestions or hover in situations such as these so I sat across from her and made sympathetic noises until she figured out for herself that the scale could not possibly be accurate. Assorted clothes, work boots and sunscreen were shoved back in and we were on our way. Not exactly the movie version of departure day I had envisioned but at least we’d spent it together.

All in all, up until this point I’d held it together admirably. I’d been positive and supportive and the cool mom I was called upon to be. At least until we arrived at the airport. As I pulled up my hands started to shake, I felt a headache brewing and I was more than a little nauseous. We found parking and her airline counter without incident. I was prepared for a long line-up, I was HOPING for a long line-up but nope! She walked right up and had her bag checked in, under the weight restriction, in no time! I was robbed!!! Time with my daughter was slipping away and there was nothing I could do to slow it down! At this point her little sister showed up at the counter to see her off. There was the customary photo moment with the girls arm in arm. I was in grave danger at this point, tears welling in the corner of my eyes ready to betray me. Watching the girls say good-bye unable to let go of each other had me desperately admonishing myself to be strong.

We walked her to security knowing that THIS WAS IT! Every worry that had gone through my head about my little girl going off on her own for two months strangled me. Every thought of how much I would miss her choked me until all I could do was hold her and tell her to be safe, have fun, and stay in touch. She threw her carry-on over her shoulder, hugged me for all she was worth and thanked me. I am proud to say those tears in the corners of my eyes did not spill until that amazing kid was out of view. Then I absolutely sobbed right then and there in that crowded airport and didn’t care at all.

I raised strong, independent daughters who have a love of life and are brave enough to strike out on their own and embrace it. I only have myself to blame and I couldn’t be happier or prouder. Tears and all!

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