This morning, before the sun came up, our little family of four headed to the airport to send off one of our tribe. Our nineteen-year-old daughter Elizabeth, a Mormon convert of three years, left to serve a mission in Germany. While my husband and I are not Mormon ourselves, we fully support her decisions, even admire her for them. It takes a lot of guts to remove yourself entirely from everything familiar to go live in a different country for a year and a half.
Two nights ago, reality hit me like a brick storm. Tears flowed, and fear reared its ugly head. I wouldn’t see or talk with my little sunshine for the better part of two years. Is she ready for this experience? Have I taught her enough? She has only flown three times in her life, and two of those times she was under five. Will she be able to find her gate? Will she locate the people meeting her at the other end? She is not even allowed to bring a cell phone, how is that safe? Deep breath. She will be fine. Then, I realized something significant.
All the focus is on my daughter, as it should be. She is about to hit a milestone in her development as an adult. It is an important one. Independence. People, including myself, are excited to see her try her wings for the first time. I hope she soars above the clouds. She will. Strong blood runs through her veins.
However, I realized that she was not the only one who has reached an adult milestone. The milestone of letting go. As parents, this is our first experience with a child leaving home for an extended amount of time. While we are excited for her to start adulting, we also mourn the little girl gone forever. We are painfully aware that when she returns she will not be the teenager we knew, but an independent woman ready to take on college and possibly a family of her own. It is hard to stave off the icy hand of fear wrapping around our hearts. Did we give her the tools to be successful? Will she adapt to speaking German quickly? Will she be safe? Why did we not insist she learn basic Taijutsu? Another deep breath. We did our best. We gave her the essentials of this life, love, and acceptance. With that as a foundation, anyone could thrive. I believe that wholeheartedly.
Over the next few months both Elizabeth and I will be experiencing growing pains. Acceptance that I am now a mother of an adult is critical (wow, I sound old.) For her, learning that mommy can’t always be there to fix problems is the lesson. It won’t be easy; however, we will grow stronger as adults. What a crazy time.
One painful, yet exciting thought comes to mind as I look around the house. And then there was three.
Thank you for reading.
J. R. Lowe
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