Tonight I will once again begin gazing a little more carefully at the stars. One of my kids set out for a land across the sea today. When she went to Zambia two years ago I found myself noticing the stars a little more clearly and there was a strange closeness in realizing that although the constellations may be brighter where she is and they may be seen from a different angle, it’s still the same sky.
I’m feeling a sense of melancholy as I reread her “see you in 3 months” text. I will miss her regular phone calls and texts. I will miss her.
Last December a nephew asked me how I felt about her going to Africa for three months. His question was most likely coming from more than one perspective as he too has spent time in lands far away and is getting ready to venture again to Africa, although to a different country than my girl. He and I had what I would consider a wonderful conversation. We shared thoughts on the world, our experiences in other lands and at home, and how we feel compelled to be a part of the world. I have thought back on that conversation multiple times and am thankful for young adults who are looking beyond themselves. They inspire me to continue to learn, grow and to help them go.
In response to the initial question of the conversation we had, I told him that I get it. I get why my daughter is going. If you have spent any amount of time with her, you see her heart for others and if you’re fortunate you get a sense of her heart for adventure. Beyond seeing all that, I shared how I could relate from my own experiences and how I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. My time living abroad and working in Eastern Europe shaped me in ways I am still discovering. I would not want to stand in the way of my child or anyone for that matter, learning such lessons.
My young nephew could probably relate or understand this aspect of my response. We share a similar view on these aspects. I loved hearing him tell of his time in Kenya and also in Afghanistan. I was eager to hear of his next trip and what his plans are as he discovers his next step.
It’s hard to think of Laura being so far away. It’s hard as I think of her on the 17 hour flight, and that coming after two flights.
It’s hard knowing we may not hear from her too much. But, that’s when I reflect on my second part of the answer to how I feel about her going.
The truth is…it’s not about me. Her decision to go wasn’t based on what I thought or felt. It’s easy as a parent to slide into the mode of manipulating decisions and maneuvering in such a way to get a response that is comfortable. However, the decision to go and work and serve and love is her decision. Sure, it’s easier to say this as she is a wise, hard-working young woman. It’s easier to say that as she did seek wise counsel. It’s easier as she has chosen to go with an incredible organization. It’s easier, but not easy.
Many times I have to remind myself that the lives of my children are not about me. Their successes, failures, and everything in between are not about me. Their decisions are theirs to make. I’m fortunate to be their mom and my kids really are pretty amazing. I consider myself fortunate when they do seek out my thoughts, but it’s still not about me!
I can truly say I have loved every stage of parenting. I won’t give in to those who cast fear on the terrible twos or threes. I don’t like it when others cause young parents to tremble when thinking of the teen years. Maybe it’s that fortunate thing again, but I have loved every stage. As I’m in the stage with adult children, I am aware more than ever that it’s not about me. They are paving their way and doing so with grace.
I will stand a little longer outside each night and look to the skies. As I look at the stars I anticipate I will once again feel that closeness. If the stars are covered by clouds, I will know they are still there! With mixed emotions I know she has much waiting for her and even more to give.