“Wise parents prepare their children to get along without them.” – Larry Y. Wilson
Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to understand that their children have grown-up and are capable of managing just fine on their own. Although we have nurtured them to be strong, independent individuals, we secretly feel that they still need our guidance and protection.
A couple of years ago, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I was heading to Australia to meet my adult daughter. She had taken a year off from work to travel the world and I decided to join her for a few weeks. If truth be known, I felt bad that my little girl was doing this alone (actually her father felt worse than I did and I know he worried more), so I thought I’d keep her company while enjoying a place I had always wanted to visit.
We met at the Sydney airport and after a joyful reunion, headed to our hotel. Because we arrived early, check-in would have to be delayed, so we set off to explore the city and get our bearings. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my “little girl” was much better than I was at navigating through this busy metropolis and learning the lay of the land. So she took the lead and I just focussed on keeping up. When we got back to our hotel, I was exhausted and suddenly wondered if I would be able to maintain the pace that she had grown accustomed to. But after shaking off jet lag, I found some renewed energy and was determined not to cramp her style.
During the next few weeks I would come to learn much more about my daughter and her abilities, but I would also come to learn much about myself and what I was capable of accomplishing when I set my mind to it. My girl was very good at reading maps, using modern technology and researching tours and sites. My expertise lay with dealing with people, scoping out potential shopping spots and picking a good wine – all very valuable traits in my books.
The best part about travelling with Lindsay (in addition to spending quality time with her) was trying things that I never would have done otherwise. We walked (many, many miles), explored hidden alleys and coffee shops, stayed in hostels (a surprisingly enjoyable experience) and cooked with the locals (barbequed kangaroo is very tasty). We hiked to the bottom of waterfalls, wandered through a rain forest and waded in the ocean. Thank goodness the bungee jumping occurred after I had left for home! And we shopped and visited vineyards (okay, that would have happened with or without her!).
One of the most rewarding experiences was mountain hiking the Grampion Range. It was a hot day and quite an arduous climb, but when we reached the pinnacle and looked down at the vast valley below us, I felt like the queen of the world. Little did I realize at that time that my daughter had been watching out for me and had opted to take the easier route, rather than the steeper climb which she normally would have taken. She had done this so she could keep an eye on her mom.
Despite knowing that my daughter would do fine on her own, when it came time to leave I still felt like I was abandoning my little girl. This was never more true than when I watched her strap on her huge, 20 pound backpack and head off to her next destination while I took a comfortable taxi ride to the airport. The fact that it was a couple of weeks before Christmas and that for the first time she would not be home to share it with us, made the situation that much more difficult.
That’s the thing about parenthood – you never stop worrying about your kids, no matter how old they are. But it’s also nice to know that they worry just as much about us as we start to get older as well.