This past weekend, Bill and I went away for a belated celebration of our wedding anniversary and a pre-celebration of my upcoming birthday.
We drove three hours north to Paso Robles while our teenagers stayed home by themselves. For the first time. Ever.
When asked how they’d feel about being left alone, both kids were amenable without being overeager (a small comfort to parents who remember Risky Business all too well).
We then called upon no fewer than six different families (including our next-door neighbors) to be available for contingencies; and as the date approached, we asked Jack and Karly repeatedly if they were still on board.
Some may think this is overkill; others probably think we were insane to leave them at all. To these people, I offer this simple statement:
We know our kids.
For their part, Jack and Karly loved their temporary freedom, rising to the occasion with unexpected kindness toward each other and appreciation of us. When I thanked them for supporting our little vacation, Karly admitted this:
“Mom. It was a little vacation for us, too.”
Indeed, it was.
They got to eat the junk they craved and rest when they were tired. Instead of me nagging them about homework and cleaning up, they simply did it—at some point—on their own.
Because we let them, they took care of their chores, our dogs. Each other.
Of course we were nervous and yes, we missed our kids. They might have missed us back.
But if not, that’s okay, too. That’s not what this is about.
It’s about preparing them to be on their own as much as preparing ourselves to live without our babies sleeping under this roof each night.
It’s the catching of breath each time Jack steps out of the house, his wallet and keys in hand. It’s the details untold after a “Tell me everything!” when Karly returns from her first day of high school.
This tenuous balance of holding on and letting go leaves us grasping at please be carefuls and I love you, toos with crossed fingers and racing hearts.
I know there will be mistakes to forgive and successes to cheer. For them. For us.
But ready or not, they’re building their own lives. It’s our job to give them the tools to do it – brick by brick, breath by breath…
…and then hope our leaps of faith will earn a win-win for us all.
Speaking of winners:
…Kristin and Erin. I can’t think of two more deserving recipients.
As for the rest of you? Go buy Heidi’s book immediately. In fact, go buy a bunch of them. They would make excellent gifts for the holidays.
Just be sure to keep one for yourself.