In case you haven’t been following my blog, my daughters and I are moving out of Orange County, California, at the end of July and re-nesting up north, where my entire family lives.  I’ve lived down in Southern California for 23 years, and my children have been down here all their lives, so it’s a big move.  A big change for all of us.

My tween is especially excited because a new cousin has been born, and she’s looking forward to babysitting Maddie.  But she’s sad, too, because she has to say good-bye to her childhood friends. 

For months now, she and four of her BFFs have been planning her going-away party. A slumber party.  They’ve talked about nothing else, really.  The games they’re going to play, the gifts they’re going to exchange, the food they’re going to eat. Dinner will consist of my daughter’s favorite foods, a medley of carbs:  Homemade macaroni and cheese, garlic mashed potatoes and breadsticks.  (When I was pregnant with her, I craved crackers and butter, and cheese and mayo sandwiches, so I’m the one to blame for her gravitational pull toward fats, I think.) And of course, they plan to stay up all night. (Remember when that was actually fun and not a symptom of menopause?)

My 11-year-old had been counting down to the big day on her desk calendar for two months. Every day she ripped off a page, it was one day closer to THE BIG PARTY. Well, THE BIG PARTY was Friday night.  She didn’t get much sleep the night before because she was so excited about the slumber party the next day. Uh-oh.  I knew we would be in for major sleepover fallout.

So we pulled up to the party, and her friends came running out to meet her, screaming her name. They practically knocked her down with all the hugging. It was so cute. My heart cracked a little to see how much she is loved here, and knowing that she will be leaving these friends behind. Just as we all have done throughout our own lives.

On our way into the house, we couldn’t help but notice a big, neon-pink sign hanging outside the door that read, “We love you, xxxx! We’re going to miss you!”  (I left out my daughter’s name to protect her privacy.) The fissure in my heart deepened a little more.  Inside, the girls had hung pink and purple balloons and streamers. You could just feel the love in the room.  Kids will be kids, so the first order of business was opening gifts. My daughter had made a special cookbook online containing everyone’s favorite recipes. She worked on it for months and it cost $180 to print and ship.  She named it, “The Flavors of Friendship.”

At first, I was irritated that we had to shell out so much money for five cookbooks.  But seeing her face light up as each friend opened her gift made the money seem so insignificant.

The party lasted for a full 24 hours. The hosting mother is an absolute saint, in my book. I’m not a big fan of hosting slumber parties because I like to sleep. So kudos to Tammy!  When I arrived to pick up my daughter, the streamers were limp, the balloons were deflated, and so was she. It was 5:30 in the afternoon and she was still wearing her pajamas. I could smell her from across the room – no kidding!  The first words out of her mouth were, “Mom, I want salad and fruit for dinner.”  Jeez, what is WRONG with our kids these days?

My daughter hugged everyone and thanked them over and over again. I didn’t want to ruin the moment by telling her what I was thinking, that it might be the last time she sees any of these girls. So I played along, acted as if it was just another “See you later!” moment.

On the way out, I grabbed the neon-pink sign, a memento of a special occasion that I knew she would cherish someday — her last night with her BFFS of Southern California.