This morning I woke up at 3:30AM to drive my 19-year-old son and his girlfriend to the airport.
They were heading on their very first international trip alone, together. It’s her first time out of the country, his first time traveling abroad as an adult without us.
As I showered them with a check list of last minute items, made them confirm 4 times at least that they had their passports, gave them all the things to watch out for and be careful of, I could hear the excitement and nervousness in their voices and it made me smile.
I felt the nervousness any parent would feel at the thought of their child traveling anywhere alone. “Watch out for pick pockets.” “Be careful where you go.” “Don’t travel around with a ton of cash.” “And have a good time!” I mean, I didn’t want to freak them out completely!
Off they go! Solo for the first time.
Yes, I felt all the fears a mother feels when sending their child farther out into the world without her. But, I also couldn’t help but feel proud. It is, after all, what we have been preparing him for his whole life. It is what we have wanted to instill in him, this courage and sense of adventure and independence.
I have been slowly letting go of my children for some time. They are tweens and young adult men now. It’s always a bit jarring at first but I also know how important it is and how each accomplishment speaks to all the effort their father and I have put into parenting them.
As a mother, I will either blame myself for his mistakes – regardless of whether it is logical or justifiable to do so, when things go wrong, and take a deep breath of relief when things go right. Seeing him plan his trip, pack his bag, and leave was a one of those moments where I breathed in relief. We did something right.
I have two more boys who are just beginning to enter into that stage of exploring their independence, unsure at times if they really want it. Experience has taught me that my time is limited. I have about 4 years before it gets really intense with them. This next stage is one of the hardest in parenting, I have found. But, I look at my oldest, and though we aren’t done with him just yet, we see the man he is becoming and we are incredibly proud and so grateful that we will always have these new experiences and lessons in travel to help us along the way, even when it seems they could care less.
He will be gone for a week and I will worry about him the entire time they are away. But I am not sad. I am excited for them both and I can’t wait to hear about their adventure when they get back.
“Take care of each other,” where the last words I spoke to him before he got on the flight that would separate us by country and as I gave him my last travel tip he said, “Yes, mom. I know from traveling with you for so long.” Though in my heart it doesn’t feel like long enough at all.