Today my oldest daughter, her husband and their 4 children are going back to their home in California. They have been here for one glorious month. I find that I keep looking at the clock and counting down the hours until they leave for the airport, not out of relief, but out of sadness. This month has been amazing. Yes, there was the mess, the occasional fights, mainly by my children and herâ€™s :), but mostly, there was a lot of laughter, joy and love. My oldest is 29, my youngest 10, there are no babies here anymore. Itâ€™s been a wild ride and so much fun.
I live in a place where my children all have had to go away to school by age 14.Â A fewÂ also went to school out of the country for a year. The first time my oldest child (a girl) went away at 14 it was hard, butÂ when she left the country for the first time, that was tough. Â She went to England and flew out the day before Princess Diana was buried. She leftÂ in August and was 17 years old. I think I’ll always remember how I felt when I put her on that plane. Excited, proud, nervous, miserable excited, proud…. Did I let her know?… noÂ way..but as we drove home from the airport, I cried. My baby, my oldest, my angel…leaving ME…growing up. I was so mad…whoÂ gave her permission to grow up! I sure didn’t. Â By Feb I missed her way too much and she started getting homesick so we flew her home. For one short week. But when she left, she smiled and told me she was fine and not to worry…so I trusted her and I didn’t cry…much. Part of my strength came from the fact that I knew it was Feb and she’d be back home in June. She went native, knew the subway system like she was born there, went to Scotland took tons of pics of castles and fields and said “this is for you Ema”, Belgium and other places that I don’t even remember. Brought me back earthy gifts that I cherish b/c it came from her heart. Then a few years passed and another left, this time to South Africa…he was gone for a year. I cried when I hugged him goodbye and he laughed and said, “I’ll be fine”…was he talking about me or him? We had no money to fly him home, I had a baby while he was gone and he met her when she was already 8 months old…his first comment, with tears in his eyes when he held her was, “I’ve missed her so much and can’t believe I’m meeting her only now”. But while he was there, he traveled all over South Africa, spent a week on horseback in Lasutu and gained a confidence that still amazes me. IÂ missed him like crazy. Another went to Israel for a year, another to Australia, another to Germany. Each time, I was proud, excited and angry all at theÂ same time. Each time I said, “whoÂ gave you permission to grow up?” Not me!! Now my older ones who are 29.. 28.. 26.. 23.. 21…tell me, â€œdon’t discourage them (the next ones) Â from going. It’s the best time for them and after, they’ll appreciate the little things moreâ€. Even though none of my older children live in Minnesota, they are near me. They have a connection to me that manyÂ parentsÂ don’t have with their children. I thank G-d every day for all the gifts I have been given. I’m even beginning to like my sons-in-law 🙂
I still complain, I still whine, I still kevetch…”come live near me…I’ll babysit for free…I’llÂ make you meals everyday” “Dam, I need a private jet!” …nothing works but I’m beginning to realize thatÂ because I allowed them their “freedom”,Â they’ve moved closer to me. Not everything has to be physical. Does itÂ ever get easier?…NO…but this is part of living and loving.
Having children is a gift, raising them is an art. As soon as we accept that we are not in charge, that we are their caretakers, their protectors, their mentors, then everything begins to fall into place (until they become teenagers!). All we need are the â€œtoolsâ€ for raising wonderfully well-rounded little people who will, G-d willing, turn into wonderfully well-rounded responsible adults. After all, there are two different ways of looking at things and living life; one with a smile, the other with a frown; either way, we are present and living it. Itâ€™s your choice!