When the WhatsApp message came, I could feel my heart sinking.
My daughter wanted to borrow my car to pack her belongings to take to her resale flat as she is getting married next Sunday.
"Just the Ikea table?" I had asked hopefully, hoping in my heart that she was still coming back every weekend and keeping most of her stuff intact.
"Clothes all," Cheryl messaged.
I had replied: "Everything?"
And in that instant, she had quickly sent me a follow-up message: "Not all. If I come back next time, I have no clothes to wear."
But because I had replied her almost instantaneously, she asked: "You want me to move everything out, ah? Don't want me to come back?" (followed by an emoticon shedding a tear).
If only she knew the inner workings of a mother's heart.
I have mixed feelings actually - a tinge of sadness that this is finally it, and happiness that she is all grown up and starting a home of her own at the age of 27.
I could still remember so clearly how proud my husband and I felt when we saw her take her first baby steps in the kitchen of the old Toa Payoh flat which we lived in for almost nine years before we moved to Bishan when Cheryl turned three.
The executive maisonette was where Cheryl and I went through sweet and sour moments, which threatened to be more sour than sweet at times, a place when she went through quite tempestuous teenage years. It was a sometimes fractious relationship, and before I realised it, the tiny cute tot had grown into a fine young woman, one who knows her own mind.
She is now embarking on a new phase of her adult life. And when she and her beau asked for my blessings for their relationship almost two years ago - and it did not seem so long ago - I had braced myself then that the day would come when she would leave me.
My only consolation is that our relationship is now so much better. Now and then, she will WhatsApp for advice and just to chat, if only briefly - something so rare in the last few years when she was living in her own world, and I in mine.
Though we were under the same roof, we did not talk much, much less know what was really happening in our lives. At least, that was changing recently.
Well, the time has come finally - for her to settle down.
I would be all alone in my Bishan flat - my husband passed away almost six years ago - telling myself that all mothers feel this way when their daughters marry.
I had held out the hope she would buy a flat nearby and it turned out not to be - she bought a resale flat close to her in-laws, which was what the family wished. After all, she was marrying the eldest son.
Worse, she was going to take her dog with her as well - a dachshund I had grown attached to. A cute dog who came as a puppy last February and is now an adorable 11/2-year old. A dog I take for two walks a day, a dog who insists I play ball with him even when I am too tired and who would not take no for an answer. A dog who follows me everywhere in the house, resting his warm body on my leg wherever I sit.
A double whammy, a friend had said to me recently. As if I needed to be reminded of this painful fact.
In the interim, my daughter still needs me. Every time she does, she messages me with just one sweet word, "Mummy", followed by whatever she wants to tell me.
Soon, I expect, such messages would be infrequent and probably stop. She will feel her own way in her adult married world and not need me as much. Which might not be a bad thing.
With conflicting feelings of hoping she still needs me and wanting her to stand on her own two feet, what is a mother to do?
I have to learn to let go and resolve that whatever happens, I will just cheer her from the sidelines and lend a helping hand whenever she reaches out for me.
All I want is for Cheryl to be happy, I had told her beau on that memorable evening when both told me they were sure they were meant for each other.
And yes, that is all I ask for, for my only child.
I cannot ask for more.
This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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