The following are a sample of text messages between my Mother and me, after my teenage daughter left the country for a community service trip:

Mom: Have you heard from your daughter?  (Tuesday 2pm)

Me: Yes.  Arrived safely. (Tuesday 2:05)

Mom: Did you hear from daughter? (Tuesday 11pm)

Me:  Not since this morning. (Tuesday 11:05pm)

Mom: Did you hear from your daughter? (Wednesday 10am)

Me: Not expecting her to contact me. (Wednesday 10:05 am)

And this exact same pattern kept repeating, at increasingly smaller intervals, until I received the following text:

Mom: Don’t you care about your daughter? (Thursday 11pm)

(Here’s a short disclaimer about my Mom- she is a tad overprotective.  And lets just say, if I ever have to make a parenting decision, I always think, “What would my Mom do?” and then I go about 160 degrees off that and come up with my plan/decision.)

And for the record, I care about my daughter very much.  So much, that I know I need to give her just a little bit of freedom right now.  That is the whole purpose of this trip.  For her to learn to survive without me being her safety net.

Of course I am worried about her well being. The kids are going to go rafting and ziplining and all sorts of activities that required signing about a million waivers.  She is thousands of miles away from me right now.   When I did “Find my iPhone” (yes- I did this) it was bizarre to see all that distance, to see the icons as tiny little dots because they were so far apart.  It was not so bizarre to see the signal coming from a Starbucks- obviously she was observing the local culture in a foreign habitat.  And no- I will probably not have a really sound sleep until she comes home.  But that is part of being a parent- we kind of glide through the sleeping portion of our lives.

Though I worry about her well being, I also worry about her ability to function as an adult.  They don’t turn 18 and get a manual stating- “You’re an adult now.  Here’s the instructions.  FYI- they were written by the same people who write instructions for self-assemble furniture.”  So they need to practice- baby steps, so to speak.  They need to do laundry, and cook food and learn to budget both their money and their time.  They need to problem solve- on their own- without anyone stepping in.  They need to learn how to be self-sufficient.  And they need to do this before they leave home for good.  (At least what we assume is leaving home for good)

While I miss my daughter, I am happy that she is managing without me.  I am hoping that her laundry ends up the same color that it started. I am glad she is managing sharing a room with someone she does not know.  I am happy that she is figuring out the language and cultural differences of a place she has never been.  I am glad that she has not felt the need to call me.  I am thrilled that she has learned how to say Frappuccino in Spanish.  I am hoping above all else that she is realizing what a strong, self-sufficient  person she has become.

Of course, I hope to eventually get an email, or a text, just a hi, or an XO (though my only communication will most likely be a picture from the tour company, of my daughter standing on a table and dancing.)  But in my heart I know she loves me and  I know she feels loved.  And I guess that’s really the job of a parent- to make sure you’re child knows they are loved, whether you’re next door, or a few thousand miles away.




30 thoughts on “Room to Grow

  1. I’ve a good friend whose father was bipolar — from one extreme to the other. Her mom hated my friend —as the shotgun wedding reason why she had to marry this man. Mom was controlling and abusive; my friend basically made no decisions while she lived at home. Dad’s policy/rule was: when the child turns eighteen they get a set of suitcases along with their marching orders. “You’re on your own now. Goodbye.”
    Can you imagine?! My friend really floundered for awhile. She says the day her brother turned eighteen he cried — because he knew he wasn’t ready to be booted out of the nest.Most teens have no idea how good they have it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! thank you..I can be a tad bit over protective and my daughter is forty-five and about to leave the country for a year. As much as I will miss her, I’m encouraging her to pursue her dreams. I remember, Sally Fields had a television program where she was the mom to several adult children. One night after a bit of family drama, she simply said, “there comes a time when you have to stop parenting and let life take over”. I’ve never forgotten that. I applaud you for preparing your baby girl for life.
    And I’ve accepted the fact, that I can’t protect my adult child from life, I just hope that she has been properly prepared.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hahahaha!!! It’s a true miracle and I hope our daughters will survive our parenting too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good luck! I’m quite good at all three right now but you are right, the first is the best.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’d love to stay and chat all night but here in Ireland it’s getting on a bit, not unlike us!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. We can only bring up our children in a way that we hope will instill independence and common sense and trust that they will enjoy their lives to the full. I’m sure you have done a fantastic job. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post. I emigrated to Australia from the U.K. by myself when I was 19; I think my Mum still hasn’t forgiven me! But I just tell her she must have done such a great job raising me, that I could fly so far & so free… your Mum sounds hilarious! G

    Liked by 2 people

  5. For what it’s worth, once my daughters left home, and even before that when they began ‘growing up’, I made sure of two things:
    1) I gave them loads of space – didn’t keep calling them, let them get on with things, tried not to give them loads of advice.
    2) I made sure that they knew I’d always be there for them, come what may.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m at the opposite end, being the daughter who travels with the mother who worries. On my first trip abroad, I got all sorts of little messages, ‘did you find your hotel?’ ‘how was the flight?’ ‘have you gotten lost at all?’ I make a point of posting photos daily on Facebook, though, to showcase wherever I am and to keep her from worrying. As time has gone on and my trips have started to add up, she’s less antsy about it. Or at least she doesn’t send so many questions my way!

    Liked by 1 person

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    Liked by 1 person

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