Sunday, September 15, 2013

Take care

A very last-minute acceptance to a very small university very far from Napa had the oldest Huffman daughter scrambling to leave home the very next morning.
While this mom was still trying to swallow the news of our girl’s imminent departure, I tried to keep myself occupied by attempting to help her pack — the 40-pound limit on checked baggage would definitely impact what college girl would take with her on her solo plane ride to her new school.
She’d be living in a dorm, so we knew at least a bed and desk awaited her. Practical Mom gathered up bed sheets and towels. I think she packed few pairs of shoes, shorts and T-shirts, some sketchbooks, her favorite pillow and her childhood blankie.
At 5:15 a.m. the next day, our girl left home dragging a giant duffle bag and backpack behind her. I went to work that morning feeling dazed from the whirlwind packing session and abrupt disappearance of our first-born.
She’d been gone for about four days when she informed us we could send her a care package now. Aha! Never mind that she lives down the street from a Target and a Safeway. Nothing spurs a mom into action like the words “daughter needs care package.”
I wandered around the house thinking of what to send her. Lip balm, a favorite T-shirt and some art pens were gathered in a box. I stuck in some stamps and a few envelopes, too. I know — stamps and envelopes — so 1986, right? I put them in anyway.
A proper care package should always include food, so I picked out some granola bars. Post-it notes, a flash drive and even a Napa Valley Register refrigerator magnet were added. I was sure she hadn’t thought to pack scissors, so I included a kid-sized pair that she’d used in junior high school. As I put them in the box, I noticed her name was still visible on the side of the plastic handles where I had written it with a Sharpie pen many years ago. Leave it to an old pair of scissors to turn College Mom into a blubbering mess.
At the last minute, I added a small cross she’d been given by her grandparents for graduation. After 18 years of Catholic school parenting, old habits die hard.
The first box was barely shipped off when College Girl made her second request. Could we send her yellow and red Converse sneakers and running shoes? she texted.
Grabbing a bigger box this time, in went the Converse and the running shoes, which I had insisted on washing first. To save packing space, inside the shoes I stuffed extras like nail clippers, more lip balm (god forbid she get chapped lips!), nail polish, a notepad, more pens and a stuffed turtle I found in her room.
The next day, our daughter texted to say she’d gotten the first box.
“Thanks,” she wrote. “I needed scissors sooo bad.”
It’s good to be needed, even 1,200 miles away.

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