Ground to cover
Yesterday blurs over in my mind already; so much ground was covered. From one part of the city to another, like a yo-yo, to and from the house.
The hours marched along as they had to, simultaneously swift and sluggish: laundry, errands, packing, more errands, more laundry. Gifts to bring overseas. Voltage converter. Pocket dictionary. Yes, tools. Everything to accommodate an extended trip to Europe.
Then the drive, the parking, the walk through the terminal, the check-in. An all-too-quick stroll to the area where a hug was exchanged, I held back tears, and waited beyond the security area as my elder son snaked through the line with all the other travelers. I watched until he was out of my view. My stomach in a knot. And the tears? No longer stoppable.
Isn’t that what parenting is all about? Hellos and goodbyes? Watching until it is no longer our place to do so?
Travel dreams, travel worries
I took the highway home, painfully aware of time, passing. Moving me forward into the utter unknown, alone. And my sons, at a growing distance. As is natural.
The remainder of the day and evening was spent with more shuttling and activities for my 17-year old, even as I waited, restlessly. For the message that my first-born had arrived in his connecting city. Then I waited through the long night until, finally, my phone buzzed with the message from overseas. “Landed.”
Then I slept.
My own French fantasy travel dreams are set aside, for now. And I’m fine with that. I know that I am fortunate to have traveled a great deal when I was younger, to have lived many lives before I married, and since. In other countries. Other cities.
For now the dreams belong to my sons, and the worries – to me. That, too, is only natural.
- Are your children headed off by themselves?
- Are they destined for journeys overseas, for lives that take them far beyond your own travels?
- Will your children live out your dreams, or dreams of their own?
- How easily will you let go, as they literally spread their wings and fly?
Going the distance
Parenting is a marathon affair, though we have no realization of that when we start out. As single parents or solo parents, there are times the expanse of years ahead may seem gargantuan, along with the tasks to be undertaken. It is a challenging road. And extraordinary. So much territory to explore, together. Journeys of emotion and learning, conflict and reconciliation. The daily work of building and sustaining infrastructure that so many take for granted: food, shelter, love.
Harder still is covering the ground necessary to create and exemplify a value system that we wish to bequeath to our next generation.
For our family, it has been this: respect, tolerance, honesty, learning, hard work, curiosity, creativity, kindness, an open mind. And I hope, joy.
My travels these past years have been great and small. The emotional journeys were the most unexpected; the actual trips – to Paris, to the South of France – Nice, Cannes, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence. Those sojourns have been too few given my love of Europe, and in particular, my affinity for a culture in which I find myself more alive, and more at ease.
I dream in French; I dream of France. I long to see Brussels again. And Amsterdam. To see Italy, one day.
My elder son has already visited and lived where I have not: Dublin, Brittany, the heart of the French countryside with his cousins. I’ve managed to provide him the travel necessary for every academic opportunity he has earned, and there were many. Up and down the East Coast of the US, to Canada and to Europe.
There is soon to be an important trip for my younger son. Well-deserved, and hard-won, as he and I continue to go the distance.
Two passports, the world to see
I thumbed through his well-worn American passport before he left: Paris and Brussels multiple times. Other European cities – destinations and stop-overs. A passport filled with stamps, and more to come. The signs of a global life – of tolerance, curiosity, learning, joy. Exactly what I hoped for him, and for his brother.
The world, wide open. And within grasp.