My “children” are both grown (in their mid 20s). They’ve graduated from college, found jobs, and are supporting themselves. They both live in different cities in a neighboring state and granted they are just a few driving hours away, I don’t see or hear from them as much as I’d like. My boys were exact opposites of me when they went to college. I was homesick throughout the entire four years I was in undergraduate and for the three years I was in veterinary school. I couldn’t wait to come home. They, on the other hand, stayed on campus and experienced in full, what college life was all about. I admit, I regret sometimes that I didn’t do the same. I wish my parents had not allowed me to be such a homebody; that they hadn’t welcomed me home with open arms every single weekend those first four years. Though both my sons admitted to some homesickness in the beginning, they adapted and adjusted well.
My nest has been empty for years now and sometimes I wonder if I will EVER adjust or get used to that fact. I think back to a comment my mother made to me when I realized that due to an unwanted but necessary hysterectomy, my family was going to be complete with two children and without a third child that I had always envisioned having. My husband had only wanted two children and I had thought I wanted three. So it was almost a relief when the doctor (and my medical condition) made the decision for us. My mother told me that it was a shame that I wasn’t going to have any daughters because when it came time to leave home, boys usually flew further away from the coop than girls (yes, I know this isn’t always the case). She told me that more than likely, I wouldn’t have any children to take care of me when I became old and frail. Her words hit me in the gut. I thought back to the families I knew in the neighborhood I grew up in and she was right. Most of the girls stayed close to home and took care of their elderly parents, while most of the sons moved further away. My sisters and I all stayed very close to home after we married and we took care of both our parents in their later years when they were sick and dying of cancer. I knew my kids would not be living close to home as they chose careers that more than likely would take them away from home. As much as I’d like to see them more, I’m okay with them being where they are, as long as they’re happy.
I’m still learning what it means to “Let Go” of my children. It’s hard…. perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and I’ll admit, I still have a long way to go in my journey. I worry about them a lot which is bad. And I pray for them a lot which is good. My brain knows they are adults and that they have their own lives to live now and can make their own decisions, but my heart doesn’t always want to believe that. I know they won’t be perfect and they will mess up sometimes. They won’t always make wise decisions or decisions I agree with. There are times that they will make me proud. There are times that they’ll stumble and fall along the way and I’ve learned that I just have to let them. And I can’t always run in to pick up the pieces. I am learning to fight the urge and the false conceptions I have that I always know what is right for them and can always protect them. My hopes and dreams for my sons aren’t necessarily going to match up with their hopes and dreams.
I’m a huge fan of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, the American Western Period Drama series that was on for six seasons from 1993-1998. I have the whole series on DVD and I still enjoy watching them. I watched an episode the other night from season 6 called Seeds of Doubt, where Colleen, the adopted daughter of Dr. Quinn and who is coming of age, gets in a not-so-good relationship with a man she doesn’t know well who flatters her with romance and expensive gifts. Michaela (Dr. Quinn) and Matthew (Colleen’s older brother) are suspicious of this suitor from the beginning, and find out that he’s not really who he says he is. When Colleen, who has already figured him out, tries to break it off with him he becomes aggressive and physically threatens her. Colleen, obviously distraught, runs off. This leads to one of my most favorite Dr. Quinn scenes (where Colleen and Michaela have a heart to heart conversation on the bridge). Michaela had not trusted Colleen to make the right decisions about this bad-seed and an argument had broken out between the two (Colleen being upset that Michaela had not trusted her in being grown up enough to make the right decision about this man). In the bridge scene, Michaela apologizes to Colleen. She told Colleen: “I’m afraid I just can’t seem to stop being your mother.” Colleen embraced her and told her she NEVER wanted her to stop being her mother. Ever. It was a sweet scene and an area I think many parents and young adult children struggle with, both openly or silently. I know I sure do.
Here is the Dr. Quinn episode. Fast forward to the bridge scene I like so much (it is at 36:27-38:04). The sound is a little “sped up” or something but you still get the gist.
I so identified with Michaela during this scene and can really appreciate her comment of feeling the need to protect her daughter. I think it’s normal to always want to protect our children, no matter how old they are. I hope my sons never want me to stop being their mother.