If you could go back in time to your 18th year...what would you have done differently?
How about your 19th year? My son is in Rome, Italy for his fall semester of his sophomore year.
I cannot even imagine the experience he must be living and the independence he must feel.
What I can imagine is how much a mom can miss her son. I once read the quote/verse "Parents give their children two great gifts, one is roots, the other wings." Truer words could not be said. Although I must admit I have seen many parents who have given the wings much too early in life. My son may think I waited too long to give him his. I could ask him his opinion except he didn't want to take a cell phone to Italy with him. He wanted the full experience. Thank God for facebook and skype. He was there about 4 weeks before we had our first skype session. I broke down in tears seeing his face again. He on the other hand decided to pop open a beer and pour it into a glass while we chatted because ...oh did I mention... drinking age in Italy is 16.
I am very aware that this is HIS journey. However, as his mom I have come to realize that I am on my own journey. Through this process I have learned that 90% of what he says that "used to" frustrate me was purely for my reaction. (hence the popping of the brew via skype) Now I have what I call my "game face" for just those moments in life. I didn't comment one time about the beer. In fact... I was so happy to see his smile that nothing else mattered. I also didn't react when he told me that he jumped off of a 70 foot cliff when no one else would... or how he slept outside on one of his travels... to save money. Oh... here's a good one... how about the one where he was traveling with friends, got separated from them, decided to look for them at 4 am only to discover he couldn't find them. Then to see someone his age who was waiting for a ride from her father (reminder:foreign country/stranger/4am/no cell phone/no money) to ask for a ride to the airport. Arriving at the airport to find all 4 of his friends already there waiting and barely making his flight.
How did I react?
On the inside I was FREAKING OUT! All I could think about was, how did your friends leave you, & WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU GOT INTO A CAR WITH STRANGERS? How did he know at 4am that this wasn't a prostitute and her pimp? What led him to believe that this was actually a father and daughter?
Okay so back to the question: How did I react?
I said to him with my calmest voice: "Well Thank God that you came across such a nice dad that he got you to the airport on time!"
Hello??? Do I hear Academy Award in my future?
I have to admit, as many of those shocking stories that I have gotten from him, I have also received so many signs and moments of knowing that someone is watching over him. That he is where he is suppose to be. That he is growing, maturing, and LIVING. He is on his journey and it's a pretty amazing one at that.
I'm not sure that he would have been able to be the person he was meant to be, the husband he will one day be, or the father he will one day become, without having had this experience.
I read that when Maya Angelou left home at a young age her mother said to her as she walked out the door, "Don't let anyone raise you, you've been raised"