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.