We just returned from a family vacation to Morocco to visit our oldest daughter in the Peace Corp. It was heavenly to have all six of us together without the distractions of our everyday lives. We rode camels, camped in the desert, supped with Moroccan families, shopped in the medinas, and rode a LOT of public buses and trains. While I certainly enjoyed seeing and experiencing Morocco, what I truly treasured was our time together as a family.
My husband and I wanted to see the world with our kids. We budgeted time, vacation days, and money to take a long trip each summer. But over time, this has becoming increasingly harder to pull off. I remember the first vacation a couple of years ago when only two of the kids were able to come. I am ashamed to admit that before we left I almost wondered if it was worth it. (Once traveling, however, I marveled at how easy it was with “only” two children.)
On this trip to Morocco I kept reminding myself that this might well be the last time we would all six be on a long vacation together. This semi-sad thought cast just enough hue over our time to heighten my appreciation without dampening the fun.
This parenting older kids and young adults is a whole different ball game. When your kids are young you are captain of their universe. You decide what to do each day, you decide what to eat, you decide where and when to go and come, you decide the pace of the day. In short you (with a nod to our former president) are the decider. I realize now that in the midst of this at times overwhelming and exhausting deciding, I didn’t always appreciate the beauty of this control.
As your kids get older it becomes hard to have time just as a family. Your kids develop their own lives, with their own responsibilities and pleasures that don’t involve you or their siblings. Even when they are all home from college, I have to ask them to schedule a couple of nights a week for family time. I’m thankful that they all readily agree to make time for family.
This shift from us to them is as it should be. My goal as a parent is to work myself out of a job. I want to launch my kids into their own universe where they are their own decider. Oh yes, this is what I want—at least in theory. But as I stood in the Casablanca airport hugging my daughter good-bye for another year I was sure questioning this stupid idea. Why, oh why, did she have to land so darn far from home? A mini launch where she landed just down the street sounds pretty good right now. All I can say is that I thank God for Skype each and every day.
Add Your Comment
The goal of good parenting is to raise a child who is healthy, happy, and successful in life. This means that parents need to be involved in their child’s life, but not to the point where they are doing everything for them. As children grow and develop, they should be given more responsibility and independence. This will help them become self-sufficient adults who are able to make their own decisions and handle their own problems. Good parenting also involves setting limits and providing structure. Children need to know what is expected of them and what the consequences will be if they do not follow the rules. Parents should also be available to their children when they need them, but not be constantly hovering.
I read this post while our new daughter slept on my chest. It’s hard to imagine the time when she won’t need us to hold her head to pick her up let alone when we’ll say goodbye to her at an airport as she goes on her all-grown-up way. All I can think is that it will be hard and absolutely fantastic!
It is odd, too, to sit on this side of parenthood for the first time. A bit surreal to realize that our parents were also amazed to watch us bat at a toy for the first or tenth time. They also danced around the room on demand to keep the whimpers away, acted as the world’s comfiest pillow, felt like crying when the gas pains just wouldn’t stop (baby tears are the saddest thing), and cheered like they’d won the lottery the first time they got us to stick our tongues out back at them. It’s not like I didn’t know all this really, but now I get it just that little, critical bit more. I have a feeling this is not the last set of insights into our parents’ behavior that raising our girl will bring.
anon no-longer, so very very true. And yes, it is both sad and fantastic. I do have to remind myself on occasion that this is the goal I’ve been aiming for. (dammit)
Very poignant and well-written–thank you!