My mother-heart beats with conflicting emotions these days. Youngest daughter is just arriving in rural Uganda for a summer of projects and college internship, and I vacillate between thick apprehension and silent wonder. She is living at the equator in a tent on another continent, part of a small group of engineering students who will build a rainwater harvesting system for a primary school. Far, far, very far away.
I guess I had a hand in this.
My children were raised to try new things — whether that was exotic foods, foreign languages, jobs, musical instruments, or far-off destinations. The oldest had a passport by his first birthday. Is it any surprise that his sister is now halfway around the world doing what her heart tells her to do? Isn’t that precisely what parents hope to see happen?
Fledgling young adults MUST discover their wings. This isn’t easy for them or for their mothers. Perhaps I’m secretly envious, as Africa is a favored place of mine. Perhaps I just want to be at her side, erroneously thinking I can offer protection from danger and discouragement. The struggle, however, is this: at the same moment I’m applauding my daughter’s willingness to be bold and confront her own fears, I’m chastising the choking glut of What Ifs that threaten to rob me of peace and joy.
But wait. A pattern emerges. Was not *I* the recipient of similar “be bold” messages, a generation earlier? Didn’t my parents teach us six kids the value of exploration and adventure and confronting fears? Didn’t my own mother deal with a smothering load of What Ifs, and survive? Ahhh. Yes. Indeed.
Someday, if I have grandchildren, I’ll watch the cycle repeat. Intangible gifts from past generations to future generations shape every one of our lives; choose well what you model.
Mothers, leave a comment: in what circumstances has it been hard for you to let go? What have you and your child gained as a result? (Fathers, you’re free to comment too.)