May 9, 2014
The reality of impermanence overtook me this week. My control issues as a mother overwhelmed my heart. Knowing that my 22-year-old daughter would be flying to China today and far out of my reach made my heart clench in my chest. At the same time, my heart was filled with joy for this wonderful opportunity she is living.
The looming departure that would separate us by continents and oceans dominated my consciousness. Fraught with worries and ‘what ifs’, I willed myself to keep moving and helping her prepare to leave. At the same time, it was clear to me that these feelings do not match with my belief system built on faith, trust, and embracing life as it is knowing there is no ultimate control. And yet I am human and I am a mother. Her trip half way around the globe brought existential truth and the reality of impermanence straight to the center of my attention.
At some point, I had a talk with myself. The worry and powerlessness were keeping me from being fully present to her. These emotions were keeping me from enjoying these precious wonderful moments with her. I wanted to breathe her in, hear every word she spoke, and wallow in her joy and excitement. Watching her, I saw a strong, confident, capable woman embarking on her first independent adventure.
This week was an opportunity to absorb her as she is now. She will return home a changed woman as a result of her experiences. My perspective shifted into the gift of this time with her prior to her departure and knowing I will witness her evolution when she returns. It is comforting to have my own adventures in my memory bank to draw from and relate to what my girl is about to step into.
Someone asked recently how this was different from when I went to India five years ago for six weeks. “Very different indeed!” I replied with passion. That was me leaving and taking risks and feeling very much in control. This is her leaving me…and me not having any control or ability to rush to her aid should she need me. I also know the joys and soul stretching moments that traveling brings. The thrill of knowing the new places she would find within herself were countered with the knowing that there will be challenges too. Challenges she will have to handle on her own. Mama lioness protector kicks in here.
When my children were growing up, there were many heart seizing ‘firsts’ that called for me to let go. The first sleep over, dropping them off for three weeks of camp, flying away on trips with grandparents and dropping them off at college. These all seem easy compared to where I stand now. I’ve never considered myself an over protective parent. It has been my intention to raise them to go boldly out into the world. This was just another opportunity to reach inside myself and find the courage to evolve as a parent.
So while I flit around the house…keeping busy with the silliest of chores…I know I am growing too. I am stretching my heart and opening to grace. (Did I mention that this is painful??) There is nothing for me to do but trust and let go. Let her go into her life and keep these worries to myself. After all, this is her adventure, which I refused to cloud with my concerns and constrictions. My adventure is private and within. Someday if she is a mother she will have her own inner adventure of struggling to let go. And maybe she will share it with me realizing that I have already survived that challenge.
These feelings reconciled slowly over the week. The intensity that gripped at me has dissipated and left me open to sharing in her excitement. My parting words to her were not “be careful, keep in touch” yet rather “live large, keep your heart open, and don’t miss a thing.” It felt good to believe in her and trust life while feeling joy and delightful anticipation of the return the new woman she will have become…while appropriately out of my reach.