Dear Shaina,

Despite the 100 pounds of dirty laundry emptied from your suitcases onto the living room floor, I am grateful and relieved to have you home, even if only for a short while. I don’t think I realized how on-edge, unfocused and distracted I was until I had you safely tucked between the clean sheets in your childhood bedroom. Being a mother comes with its own unique set of neuroses that are simply beyond one’s control. I am relishing the moments of respite from worry while I busy myself with laundry and cooking and to-do lists in preparation for your next adventure.

Your brief swoops back into the nest always surprise me a bit. You seem to seamlessly fall back into your routines and old habits as if you never left; littering the floors with your clothes, returning to familiar spinning classes at the J, running your usual routes in the neighborhood, creating unusual salads from whatever you can forage from the refrigerator, slathering creams and oils all over your body and wearing old worn-thin t-shirts that have been patiently waiting for you in your closet.

You are the same, and yet, altered in ways less detectable. Your emerging adult keeps peeking through to let us know that your views may not always be the same as ours, that you are in charge of your life wherever that may lead and that you are mostly okay.

It is never easy for me to let you go completely even though I know that my “letting go” is completely irrelevant. You have successfully launched yourself despite your overly protective and bothersome parents. And we couldn’t be prouder and more confident in the direction you have chosen. You will always have a safety net, in as much as we can provide one. I doubt you will ever need it. Our presence is a constant in your life of comings and goings as we stand on the sidelines kvelling over your accomplishments and marveling at the wonders in your life.

For now, I am still doing laundry (four days post-arrival), maintaining the routine in my own life (mahjong, yoga, doctor’s appointments) and keeping the fridge stocked with all your favorite foods (I am always amazed at how quickly the food disappears when you’re home). The days are flying by. Soon you will be gone again and the house will be neat and quiet and so boring. Did I ever tell you how much I love doing laundry? It is really my favorite chore.