Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Letting Go

Son #2 left for Europe today.  He's backpacking for six weeks with one of his best friends.  He has round trip tickets, a Eurail pass, his passport, camera, a copy of "Let's Go to Europe" courtesy of his mother and what looked to be a 50lb pack!

I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I want him and his brother to travel and explore the world while they are young, before they have serious girlfriends, jobs and responsibilities.  On the other, I'm terrified something will happen to him because of his youth, naivete and inexperience.  I did the trip the year I turned 20.  My girlfriend and I backpacked for three months, same time of year.  It remains the single most significant thing I've ever done besides have children.

So what am I afraid of?  What deep primal fear welled up inside me last night and kept me awake for almost two hours?  What sense of dread do I continue to quell?

Ever since he was born I've harbored a fear of something happening to him.  My husband shares this fear.  Reya, a blogger I follow, writes often about psychic energy and insight.  But mine scares me and I often cannot discern if what I feel or think is psychic, insightful or just plain anxiety.  What I mean is, when I have strong feelings about another person I meet, I honor them.  But when I have strong feelings about someone I am close to and the feelings are based in what I believe may be negative insight, I reject them.  As a mother, I can do nothing less. 

One of the more comforting things Reya has written is "I'm not one of those psychics who predicts the future... the future is co-created, moment to moment, by every person, animal, blade of grass, by every breeze, lightning strike, rain shower, by every tectonic movement, by the effect of the solar wind, the gravity of the moon pulling on the earth, etc. etc. etc. I'm certain dark matter plays a role in co-creating the future. A person would have to see around every corner in order to truly be accurate."  

I like this.  I do not want to predict the future.  I do not want to be afraid.  I want to believe my son is going to have this wonderful trip. I want to learn to let go of not just him but my fear for him.  I love him more than I can say.  How do I learn to let go?




Son #2 (right) with a close friend

12 comments:

Brian Miller said...

letting go can be hard...as i am sure it was in letting you go...to experience one of the single most significant experiences of your life. i hope his is as well. and he returns home safely.

Bill Stankus said...

Truth is, you never let go and they never really leave.

About the trip. Take a deep breath and relax - besides what else can you do? Worry? I've been there, worry is not recommended.

otin said...

My Mom was so overprotective that it makes me envious when I see a mother rooting on her son in a racecar or at a ski race. Mothers don't realize that their children would rather take chances and be at risk than to be sheltered and safe. I don't think that you will ever let go, they probably will! (not in a bad way!)

Tanna said...

I remember my fears for my own daughter when she made this rite of passage. Letting go and still holding them in your heart is hard. Parenting is hard. What I do know is that, to this day, she will tell you her journey was far more than a physical one... As you said, it remains significant. And, it forces us to let go...

Baino said...

I don't think you ever really do. Make sure he logs into an internet cafe on a regular basis and has a chat. Get Skype. It was a Godsend when Clare went overseas for 11 months! I missed her like a limb but she came back, healthy, happy and all the wiser for her experience. She travelled everywhere from South America to Croatia but she always kept in touch. It was very comforting.

Pop and Ice said...

It just takes lots of practice. Hopefully you were practicing with small trips before this. And breathe.

California Girl said...

Thank you all for your comments. I knew Id hear from you and you'd have words of widom, experience and good advice. Just telling me to "breathe" and "relax" is helpful. I appreciate the reassurance from those of you who have let your own children go and the advice from those of you who know that being overprotective doesn't help at all.

Minka said...

Once your son actually leaves for Europe, once he lands here somewhere (where?) and contacts you, you will already feel better. Feeling theway you do, you just prove you're a good mother.

Nancy said...

All mothers carry this fear. My youngest, 22, is talking about teaching English in a third world country. I am concerned. No, check that - I am very concerned. But I have decided I need to live my life with NO FEAR. We can never be completely safe, even if we never left the house.

And of course we don't want our children to live their lives in constant fear. Especially our fear.

So take a deep breath, trust in your son to make good decisions, and be happy he is the kind of kid that has intellectual curosity and is open to adventure. Just as you were at that age. And look how wonderful you turned out!

Susan said...

Hugs to you, my dear. It is so hard to let them go. We imagine the worst things that can happen, while they imagine the wonderful things in store. It's an age-old conflict and one we, as mothers, will never overcome.

My MIL is 82 and I still have to call her when her son has arrived at his destination on a business trip, and again when he arrives home safely.

California Girl said...

Brian, Bill, Otin, Tanna, Baino, Pop: I read your thoughts again this morning and, again, thank you.

Minka, Nancy Susan: thanks to you all for your perspectives and reassurance. I need it and will continue to re-read as the days pass.

P.S. Haven't heard from him yet but it's 7am our time and he's probably asleep somewhere having landed in the middle of my night/Frankfurt's morning.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Did we all have that adventure trip half way around the world? We survived, and so did our worrying mothers...
Remember? there are wonderful people everywhere, and he'll be hearing your voice in his head when he needs it...
Calling a fear creates worry, and that's not good for anyone.
Set a good example because when it is my kids' turns, and I'll be bloggin' you... -J