Nothing like having kids travel on their own to put some hair on your chest.
Now that I’m on the other side of 50, the “older mom” milestones are coming fast and furious!
I’m the proud mom of three fabulously handsome and talented young men. I know we all say that! But seriously, they will make wonderful husbands one day. They are close in age – all three were born within 3.5 years. And I must say that it was a lot of fun for them growing up together. They were a tight little group.
Because they are close in age, the milestones are flying by. I barely cope with one when I get hit with another.
Take the 16th birthday for example. #1 got his driver’s license but wasn’t that motivated to drive. Before we knew it, #2 lapped him with a full blown license. Just as I’m calming down the tiniest bit from the extra freedom and loss of maternal control this entails, #3 has his learning permit too.
The same with going to university. #1 just completed his second year at University of Waterloo. #2 just accepted and will also be heading off to Waterloo in the Fall. Barely any recovery time before #3 starts doing his research.
But….all of this stress pales in comparison to the stress associated with the milestone that just occurred in our family. #1 (19 years old) traveled abroad on his own. He started with a university group as part of his studies; I was coping just fine with this part of the plan, so of course, he added some solo travel to the end of the trip, just to spice things up a bit.
I hated every minute of it.
Even with Wi-Fi and cell phones.
Remember, I have boys. I hate to generalize and stereotype, but….one word answers via text and Facebook Messenger are frustrating. You just don’t get the amount of info you need!
OK, OK, I hear you. I didn’t get the amount of info I needed.
And that wasn’t the worst of it.
Two scary things happened on this trip.
First, he was swarmed and a group of pick pockets experts scored $300. Second, he missed a train and didn’t arrive at the planned destination on time, when family friends expected to pick him up at the train station. This created a lot of concern and worry, as you can imagine!
All of this was incredibly hard for me to deal with. I had all kinds of thoughts.
- He’s not ready to travel alone.
- He earned the nickname “oblivious” for a reason.
- He is going to get lost.
- I have no control and can’t help if he needs me.
- I hate not knowing what’s going on and if he’s safe.
These thoughts do not make me feel good or calm; instead, they made me feel worried and scared.
Are these reasonable thoughts? Does it matter? Are these thoughts serving me in any way, shape or form?
I believe that some of the signs of successful parenting are that your kids feel confident and independent. But, when they are confident and independent, they travel and don’t communicate much! They do cool things! They push themselves and take advantage of awesome opportunities. That’s good, right?
The question is, what does not having control mean to me? What do I make having LESS control mean? As children become young adults, we have less control. We know less information. And it’s not always easy!
After some work, I changed my thoughts to include things like:
- He is amazingly resourceful.
- He has held highly responsible jobs and has a track record of success.
- He is a bright and capable student who excels at problem-solving.
These new thoughts made me feel completely different.
They made me feel at ease and more relaxed. I felt a lot of pride.
I don’t know that it will ever be easy when my kids are traveling, especially half way around the world. Summer camp prepared me a tiny bit, but this is completely different. I know that part of the problem is just little ol’ me struggling with the transition from raising children to raising amazing young men.
That’s what I love about the coaching model I use in my practice. It’s so easy to see the difference between circumstances, thoughts and feelings. Understanding how they all work together and create outcomes in our lives is fascinating.