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My daughter, her boyfriend, and her pet chihuahua were home for Christmas. She is in her senior year of college, and she goes to school out of state. It’s a four-hour plane ride home, usually with a stop in Salt Lake City, so the duration of the trip is usually around six hours. In addition to the flight, she has an hour and a half drive to and from the airport when she flies home because the town where she goes to school does not have its own airport for commercial travel.

I was so excited to have them home for Christmas. I only get to see my daughter for about five weeks during the year. Usually, a week or so at Christmas, a week for her spring break, a week when we fly out to see her in the summer, a week when she comes home during the summer, and a week at Thanksgiving. Everything revolves around her breaks and ours since my husband and I are both teachers. She maintains an apartment in her college town, so she spends her summers and part of her Christmas break there to work and keep everything going in that town.

While she was home this break, we had some great quality time. We had huge breakfasts around the table (usually around noon because that’s about the time those kids would get up). We had dinners together, went out to eat for a few occasions, had some of her high school friends over, had movie nights, and I got a lot of snuggles in from my grand-dog Moosey. We got to celebrate Christmas together, and it was wonderful.

They flew into town on the 19th, and they were scheduled to fly out on the 29th in time for them to spend New Year’s Eve back at “home.”

Drop-offs at the airport have always been a bit of a struggle since she’s been in college. We both know that we won’t be seeing each other for a while, and there are some emotions about that. She usually gets a little edgy with me on those days, and I get worried about flight times, etcetera, and making sure everyone gets where they’re going on time. I get this anxiety because my daughter believes in getting to the airport later than I think they should, and one time they missed the flight because of it.

This year we got everyone to the airport on time. They were checking bags this time since they had some extra stuff to bring home because of Christmas presents they had received. They got the dog and the bags checked in and all was going smoothly. It was foggy, but at that point, their flight was still scheduled to leave on time.

After my husband and I hugged them goodbye at the airport, I did what I always do when she leaves. I went home and cleaned up the house. I think it’s therapeutic for me. I cleaned up her room and changed the bed sheets. I washed the towels and took down the blanket she hangs over the window in her room because we don’t have blackout blinds, and she prefers not to be woken up by any of that pesky sunlight too early in the morning. I was just about to go to work on the bathroom where I found the new toilet paper roll sitting on top of the toilet paper holder (some things never change) when I got a call from my daughter. Their flight had been delayed. No big deal, they were still going to get out in time to catch their connection in Salt Lake. I kept cleaning. Twenty minutes later, another hour delay. Well, now they might not make their connection, but at least they could get as far as Salt Lake. I went back to cleaning. Another fifteen minutes and their flight was cancelled, and the next opportunity to fly out would be on December 31st in the afternoon, two more days.

“Nooo!” I remember crying into the phone. I just got the room cleaned! I needed these last few days to just rest before going back to teaching on January 2nd. I was going to read, take bubble baths, take care of no one but myself! This couldn’t be happening!

“Thanks for being so happy we’re staying,” my daughter said into the phone before hanging up on me.

I went downstairs and broke the news to my husband. The next day was my birthday, and we had plans to go to a fancy restaurant we had never been to, just the two of us. He hugged me while I continued my meltdown.

And then I called my daughter back and apologized for crying because they were staying. We were on our way to the airport to get them, and they could come with us to the brewery for dinner that night.

On the way to the airport, I felt like the worst mom ever. What in the hell was actually wrong with me? My only daughter, who I get such precious little time with over the course of a year, was going to be staying with me a few days longer. I should have been thrilled! Some mothers don’t get to have their kids with them over Christmas and would love nothing more. By the time we got to the airport, I had successfully shamed myself into a better attitude.

We hugged them hello, loaded up the car again, and went home. Then, I changed my reservations for my birthday dinner for the next night from the fancy place to one that was more affordable so my daughter and her boyfriend could come with us. It was a great dinner, and how fortunate I was to have that extra chance to have my daughter there to celebrate my birthday.

Today we will attempt to take them to the airport again to catch their flight home. It is still foggy, but so far, no delays. If all goes as planned, they’ll be ringing in the New Year on a drive home after arriving at the airport in her college state. It’s not at all how they planned to spend New Year’s Eve., but it will be memorable. And this mom is grateful for the extra time we got to spend.

I won’t see her again until May when we fly out for her graduation. A college graduate in four years after she started during a global pandemic when everything was online. I am beyond proud of her and can’t wait until I get to see her again next time.