If you’ve followed my column for the past 20-plus years, you’ve gotten to know my family — especially my daughter, Caitlin. 

She’s the one who refused to clean her room when she was young, who would be my hand-holding partner at scary movies, who had the nerve to grow up and ultimately move out and who has made me proud every day she’s been alive.

I’ve written about Caitlin’s graduation from high school, her journey through college and her devotion to fostering and adopting animals. She has moved a few times over the years, excelled in her career, went through a couple of relationships and most importantly, became an independent, strong and talented woman.

As her mother and as a journalist, it is my job to chronicle her life and her accomplishments. What’s better way to do it than in the newspaper I write for?

Yes, there were plenty of times when she didn’t want me to share some of those embarrassing moments, or even those that I’m most proud of.

While I’m impressed with what Caitlin has accomplished in her life, the most recent, heart-breaking milestone she fulfilled was moving out of state last month for a new job in marketing.

Caitlin has always been no more than a 45-minute drive away. Now, she’s 703 miles away in Austin, Texas, an 11-hour drive from home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still so very proud of her for having the courage to take on a new adventure, move to another state and make a new life for herself, but sometimes I feel a little abandoned.

I have always wanted the best for Caitlin, for her to be happy and to succeed. But did that mean moving out of state? I guess so.

All the time she had been planning for the move and even during the trip out to the Lone Star State, we never spoke about how much we were going to miss each other, that we probably wouldn’t see one another for a while.

We made sure we enjoyed our time together, giving her some of my motherly advise, making sure she lives in a safe neighborhood, buying her the necessary household items and groceries, and reminding her how much her father and I love her and will always support her decisions.

While we had a very nice trip to Austin, it didn’t take away the anxiety and sadness I felt as I left my baby girl in a different state — somewhere she was going to start a whole new life without me.

OK, I’m being a bit of a drama mama, but when it came to saying our good-byes, I bawled like a little girl and held her tight for as long as I could. All I could say was, “Be careful, and stay safe,” and “I’m so proud of you.”

When Caitlin moved to Albuquerque about seven years ago, I was very sad and lonely. This is very different. I had gotten used to her not living at home, and I would talk to her at least four times a week and see her once or twice a month.

I haven’t missed her as much as last time, but maybe it’s because since she’s been gone, we’ve talked nearly every day, sometimes two or three times a day. We even get to see each other via FaceTime.

Ever since she was a small child, I knew Caitlin would one day grow up, leave home and create a life for herself. I learned a long time ago that my daughter’s life isn’t my life. Caitlin’s life represents who she is, not who I am.

With that said, I’ve learned it’s important to remember that although she’s moved away and is starting a new life, it’s likely because we’ve done our job as parents right. I have created and we’ve raised a human being who is resourceful, comfortable with who she is and is able to fly out into the world.

It’s a great feeling knowing that your child is where she wants to be in life, at a place where she feels fulfilled, but most importantly, knows that she is loved.

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