Mixed emotions


When my babies were born, I wished them each a life of happiness.  “I just want you to be happy.”, I whispered into each tiny ear, as I cuddled them in my arms, watching each perfect face as it lay in sleepy calm.

“I just want you to be happy.”, I said, as I tucked my toddlers into bed, smoothing soft blankets over each small form.

I just wanted them to be happy.

And I thought I knew what that meant.

I wanted them to have many friends. I wanted them to love school, to be curious and interested and excited.

I wanted them to travel along the path that I envisioned, skipping along through life as I had planned.

I wonder now how I would have answered if I had been asked whether I wanted my children to be daring and adventurous.  Would I have quickly denied any such hopes, wanting my babies to always be safe?  Or would I have agreed, readily accepting the fact that happy lives are filled with challenges accepted and met?

I honestly don’t know.

But I suspect that I would have been torn.  I suspect that if I had been asked, “Do you want your child to go out and have adventures?”, I would have stammered and stumbled and found myself at a loss.

Because here is what I now know to be true.  As the mother of three young adults,  I continue to say “I just want you to be happy.”  But now I know a bit more about what I mean when I say it.

I mean, “I want you to find ways to continually challenge yourself, mentally, physically and spiritually.”  And I mean, “I want you to keep growing, keep learning, keep striving for your next goal.”

But I now know that I also mean, “I want you to be safe!  I want you to be cautious!”

And most of all, now I know that I truly mean, “I want to come home safe to me, to tell me all about the wonderful adventures that you have had.”

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Tomorrow morning at dawn, this guy is heading out on an adventure.

SONY DSCI am happy for him, excited for him, impressed that he is daring to hike 275 miles of the Appalachian Trail on his own.

But when I close my eyes, in the dark of night, I see this guy hiking out there in the woods.

Matt at 18 months

I just want him to be happy.

But as soon as possible,  I want him to be happy back at home with me.

 

39 thoughts on “Mixed emotions

  1. I can so relate to this. My son is leaving on the 5th to travel to France by himself to take a French immersion course. I too want him to live his life and not let me define what that should look like. I don’t want to hold him back because of my fears. Still, like you, I just want him to be safe and okay. I want others to treat him kindly.
    I will pray for safety for your son on his adventure and for you when you close your eyes at night.

    Like

    • As I will do for you!! Isn’t it a funny dilemma, (and one that I never anticipated)? Wanting them to get out there and live life fully, but wanting to wrap them up and keep them safe while they do it?
      I’m sure that both of our boys will thrive and grow, and that both of us will be proud and relieved when they come home!

      Like

    • Thank you for your very kind words!
      I really hesitated in posting this; I have friends whose kids have been deployed to the wars, and friends whose kids are serving in the Peace Corps. I have no real reason to be worried, but this is MY baby, so I guess that makes it relatable, if not pathetic….

      Like

  2. I have done a few posts on this as my eldest left for the US five weeks ago. I still miss her dreadfully. She will be back in late August but it still seems like a lifetime away. Thinking of you for tomorrow and sending you hugs.

    Like

    • Thank you! Its amazing how hard it is sometimes to just let go…..I think I’m doing a good job of letting them live their own lives, and then I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about a simple hike!!
      I hope that your daughter is having a wonderful time here in the US, and that she isn’t anywhere that is too hot!

      Like

  3. When I read this post I was flooded by emotion. You have struck this chord so right girl but do you know what. I bet your adventurer goes off and has his adventures, but truly knows how important it is to come home. I bet deep down he knows that part of the reason he is brave enough to challenge himself is because of the strength and belief you have nurtured in him. Yep it’s tough being a mum, but you rock!

    Like

    • Thank you, my dear; I think, truly, that I am just a neurotic nut! Matt is almost 23, fit as a fiddle and ready for this trip. It is pure silliness to worry but what can I do? I don’t seem to have your knack for keeping calm and keeping on! I know he’ll have a wonderful time, and it will fly by!

      Like

  4. My kids are a good deal younger than yours, the eldest being in her final year of school. I tell them, ‘I want you to be happy’ all the time. However, those words have hidden restrictions. ‘I want you to be happy’ means that one day (in the distant future) I want you to settle down with a nice partner and raise a family and make me a happy grandmother. I DO NOT mean, I want you to leave me and go off on wild adventures on the other side of the world. If that’s what will make you happy, then very definitely, I want you to be sad!

    Like

  5. Ohhhhh, I get this too. I think there is always a silent “but” to that statement. I want you to be happy “but” safe. And within earshot!

    He will do great, though. And there will be lots of help along the way if he needs it (which he probably won’t). Because you raised him to be smart, right?

    Like

  6. It feels like such a fine line. I hope as we get older (and our kids get older) that the line thickens up a bit (or perhaps our backbones). Did he pack band-aids, he is going to get blisters (another good metaphor for motherhood). I’m right there with you; sending good thoughts to Tim for a safe, cautious, happy adventure. This is Worrywart btw; I just realized I’m logged into one of my other sites (imflunkingcollege.com 😉 ). As always you captured perfectly what we all feel.

    Like

    • Well, hello, my many named friend!
      He will be fine, I know he will; just kind of hard to let go. I know you’ve done this whole thing, and that you understand the angst. Thanks for your support!

      Like

      • My angst has kept me up for two nights now! Hoping to get some sleep tonight; I think your post will help – it somehow always makes me feel better at 3:11 a.m. that mothers all over the world are losing sleep over their perfectly capable children. 🙂

        Like

  7. I think moms of kids, no matter the age, can identify with this post. Whether we’re sending them off to kindergarten or to Africa (as I did when my son joined the Peace Corps) those same feelings of fear and vulnerability surface. I’d say you raised a pretty awesome and secure guy since he’s ready to take on such a brave adventure. Even though, I’m sure you know, that it’s hard to avoid those sleepless nights. Love can do that to a person.

    Like

    • Thanks for making me feel somewhat less neurotic, Jamie! When I compare Matt’s little adventure to things like the Peace Corps, or the friends who have sent kids off to war, I realize that I really need to get a grip. But even though my brain says, “relax”, my heart says “Danger!”

      Like

  8. Oh, I teared up a little reading this. My kids are still the age of your son in that second picture, and imagining one of them hiking the Appalachian Trail would make me feel very similarly, I think!

    Like

    • Maybe you will be more mentally balanced, though, and will realize that your 22 year old isn’t still 3!! sigh. I know my boy will be OK.
      I just want proof!!
      Thanks for commenting; hug those beautiful babies while they’re still close by!

      Like

  9. In contrast, I’m the mom who wanted my kids to go boldly and face adventure…my two daughters have done just that (a few sleepless nights for me, too!) but the Boy, my youngest, is content to live in his childhood bedroom at his dad’s, work at the grocery store, and mess with his computer…I want happiness for him…but I also want him to get off his rear-end! 🙂

    Like

    • Isn’t that just the whole dilemma in a nutshell?! I want my kids to grab life and truly live it. I love the fact of their adventures, but I love them more when they are all finished and we are looking at the pictures….!

      Like

  10. Your baby is a man. He’ll be safer on his adventure than I will be driving home with some teen texting behind me a 70 miles an hour tailgating me. Fear not.

    Like

  11. That’s quite an adventure. I imagine he has prepared for it – there are lots of guide books out there to instruct him. He’ll meet some interesting people, too. I doubt he’ll be completely alone the entire time. My sister and her husband are planning their App Trail walk for next year. They won’t do the 2,000 mile trek but a part of it. I really admire these adventurers!

    Like

    • You’re so right; he has been preparing for months, and is ready to go. He is an experienced hiker and he knows what he is up against. And the part of the trail that he is hiking (Western Mass up into the White Mountains) is the most populated in summer. Of course, as a true nutcase mother, that makes me worry that he won’t find room in the shelters on stormy nights! Good luck to your sister and her husband. I admire these folks, too, more than I can say!

      Like

  12. My kids are far younger but already I try to prepare myself for the adventures I sincerely do want them to have. And you’re right, I do want them to come back to me unharmed. I graduated from college, got married and got a job. I missed my window for moving someplace fun and exotic and traveling. Traveling and moving with kids is not easy! So I’m telling myself now that I will be OK when my kids want to do this, OK on the outside at least. Hiking that trail is not my sort of adventure but I have several friends who do it from time to time with their kids. He’ll meet some great people along the way and he’ll discover so much about himself.

    Like

    • Its funny, but I actually had a big adventure when I was in high school. I was an exchange student in Tunisia when I was 17, living with a wonderful family for three months. At the time, it just seemed awesome and fun, not really scary. But now I look at my mom and wonder, “How the hell did you let me do that?” Off to live with strangers in a strange land, at the age of 17, and before cell phones, skype, facebook or email!
      Maybe she didn’t love me that much…..?

      Like

    • Oh, I wish he was heading that way, but he only doing a one month trek, from Western Matt up to the White Mtn in New Hampshire. About 275 miles in all (which is far enough for me!)
      I want to get to Harper’s Ferry one day, though (by car).

      Like

  13. I think it took my parents a long time to get ued to teh level of “What the hell?!?” that I regularly went out to experience.
    And even when they did, they were much happier when I was back home telling the stories about it.

    Like

    • I bet it did take them a long time! Yikes…..Right now I am watching the tornado warnings out over the Boston area, and trying not to monitor the noaa radar over the App Trail all night….good lord, I’m a wimp!

      Like

  14. I’m on the other side of this story. I’m moving out of my mom’s house August 1st to move four hours away and go to school. This actually helped me to understand why she has been so…difficult through the whole process. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks for the view from the other side! Its kind of amazing to me that I don’t really recall how I felt when I headed off to North Africa for a summer when I was 17….really?! How did my parents let me go?!
      Good luck in your move and in school; be gentle with your Mom. You’re thinking of your new and exciting life; she’s wondering if the smoke detectors work.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s