March 23, 2017
I knew when Maddy was 2 weeks old, she would be my wanderer. She hated being swaddled. Any type of confinement, Out. Of. The. Question. My mom sat back in silent satisfaction as I stressed over the realization that she would seek adventure wherever she could find it.
My mother’s satisfaction stemmed from the knowledge that, “I got a child just like me.” Upon graduation from college, I backpacked through Europe for 2 and 1/2 months. No Cellphone. No GPS. Just my friend, my United States Passport and my Eurail Pass. Take a moment to process that. Reflect on your life adventures, on the times that your choices produced gray hair on the head of your parents. Based on my current situation, I don’t know whether to wish you luck or weep for you. Maddy’s bed will remain neatly made for the next 3 months. According to Life 360, currently, she is either treading water or swimming with dolphins in the Pacific Ocean. Logic tells me, she is enjoying the warmth of the California sun on Catalina Island. My mother enjoys calling me daily to ask if the purple dot moved yet. Her point is clear. GPS doesn’t communicate safety. The ability to communicate or reach Maddy at a moment’s notice doesn’t mean she’s safe. The one and only thing GPS reveals without a doubt, she’s out of my reach and my control.
In reality, I’ve never been in control. Every day I sent her to school, I sent her off into the unknown. Every time, I buckled her into her car seat, we found ourselves at the mercy of the other drivers on the road. Every time she got into her car and drove down the street, I surrendered to the reality that I had no control over her safety. The more independence she gained, the more I realized I had no choice but to release and trust.
Releasing our children into the world as successful, independent adults is the final exam of parenting. According to society, Paul and I passed the test of parenting with at least half of our children. Let me tell you, I’ve never been this upset about passing a test. It’s awful. I miss her! I can only encourage you from our experience, to refrain from solving their problems. Let them run out of gas. Teach them to change a tire. Let them drive in the snow. Give them practice at every turn for every life skill you can imagine. Provide them opportunities that require them to be uncomfortable.
When they call from college and tell you they aren’t coming home for Spring Break because they’re going on a road to trip to Cali, you can sit back and relax knowing that, even with GPS, you’re totally out of control. And this, this is the goal of parenting.
Honored to Serve You All,
Food for Thought: 15 Questions to Replace “How was Your Day?”