Last year, when my daughter told me she wanted to study in Germany for a month in the summer of 2011, I wanted to say, “Germany?!!! No, I can’t even drive there if you need me! Germany?!!!” But then I remembered I wanted her to see the world, study abroad, and experience places and people firsthand that I had only read about. But then I kept getting haunted by the fact that I could not protect her in Germany. Germany! Not to mention that it was not a cultural melting pot like America and right away the natives would know that she was a tourist. And once she spoke German with her cute American accent, how would they treat her? Would someone try to take advantage of her? Kidnap her?!
Boy, my mind was going off in so many different directions, it was ridiculous. That’s when I decided to pray about it–you know after I drove myself crazy thinking about all the worse possible scenarios. Well, God put my mind at peace. At some point a mother has to realize that she cannot go everywhere with her children. They may not always live in your house, your town, your state, or even your country. With that in mind, I came to the realization that it was best to let her go without a fuss. What argument did I have anyway? She is living in God’s perfect will for her life, and He is with her everywhere she travels.
She had gotten to Munich safely. She wasn’t alone. She was with 40+ other students from Princeton. She was learning and site seeing. We communicated through Skype every evening, so I got to hear her and see her face, so I got pretty comfortable with the idea, until… I read the headlines: “World’s Largest E-coli Outbreak Kills 14 in Germany.” I continued to read, ” more than 300 seriously ill in Germany and it has spread to other north European countries and is expected to worsen in the coming week.” Worsen in the coming week, I thought. My child has to be there for 4 more weeks! Maybe I should make her come home. I consulted with my husband. He was pretty relaxed about it, so it helped me relax. He said, “Just tell her not to eat the cucumbers.” Well, that seemed easy enough, but then the next report said that no one was really sure what foods, especially vegetables, were causing the outbreak. So… one would figure, well, just tell your daughter not to eat the vegetables. Well, that would have been just fine, but my daughter is a vegan, and I knew there was no way I could convince her to become a meat eater for the month she was there. So… I verbalized my solution to her while we were on Skype, “Eat chips and water, that’s it.”
“Mom, that is not enough nutrients. I’ll pass out.”
“I don’ care. I need you to stay alive. Passing out is nothing compared to what the people are going through who have gotten sick over there.”
My poor child lived primarily off of pretzels. I don’t know why she didn’t go for the bag of chips. Apparently, Germany has irresistible pretzels. Well, even though I continued to worry, my daughter came home safely–a little thinner and very hungry, but she was okay.
She is now in her sophomore year of college, but she is home for winter break-right down the hall in her bedroom, and I am just a holler away, so I am one happy mom. However, a few days ago, she comes to me and says, “Mom, what do you think about me studying at Cambridge for a couple months?”
“Cambridge? You mean like in England?!!!!!”
Well, folks, what can I say? I have a long way to go before I am completely used to her not always being right down the hall.
By the way, here is a photo of my daughter in Germany. This is what she was doing while I was home worrying:
*My daughter has visited several countries since I have written this post and is now a senior! It is now the fall of 2013. I find it difficult to believe she is 21. I don’t worry about her as much as she worries about me now. Our roles have reversed in a way. Our children are young and resilient. We are getting older. It is time to take care of ourselves, so our grown children can live their lives fully without worrying about us.
Quotes about worrying:
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.- Corrie Ten Boom
Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
No one can pray and worry at the same time.- Max Lucado
Shawn, you never cease to amaze me! I absolutely love the way you allow us to peek into your world. Anyone who has ever loved someone who has traveled far has felt what you felt. You just helped us to realize that it’s okay to be concerned, but we must also have faith to believe that He Who has kept our loved ones up to this point will continue to do so whether our loved ones are near or far. Thank you for sharing.
Lorraine, sometimes we pretend not to worry, and I want people to know that I am a believer, but of course, I worry, too, and more often than I care to admit, but admitting it publicly helps me and others. The great thing is, I get to receive comforting words from my friends and fellow writers : ) We are in this world thing together, supporting each other all the way with prayer : )
My niece is living in Jordan. My sister was not happy about it at first, but she is alright with it now. She really did not have a say so anyway. My niece is 26, and a graduated with a master’s degree from Lehigh University. She is smart, adventurous and is living right. That’s all that we can ask for. God did not give us a spirtit of fear. So, when our children want to go, just bless them and pray that God watches over them, far and near. Amen.
I am glad your sister is okay with it now. Thank you, Karen. Your words are comforting, and you are so right, we have to remember to trust God with everything all the time : )
My daughter lives a hour away and she is currently on the move to live even further. Although she is not in another state or country, the worry is all the same. I can only trust and believe that if I am worrying now, that I worried before she even left. So, I know I did everything to prepare her for her journey in this big world. I can only trust and believe that she will follow through with all that I have naturally instilled in her for life on her own. I have found that I will worry even if she is upstairs, so worrying is just a mother thing! My daughter has learnt more in the last year being on her own, then most young people her age who live at home. With all the lastest and upcoming technology at my fingers, it eradicates long term worrying! I simply, email, call, text, facetime, etc. A strong relationship was built prior to her departure and its that bond that also helps control the worry and aids in the relief of worry when I worry! I m simply going to worry, but I know how to adjust the worry! Good parents worry!
Hey Crystal, I really like that “good parents worry.” I never really thought about it that way. I was wondering, do you think you will worry more or less with your sons? I do not worry about my son as much, but he generally stays close to home. I didn’t worry about him as much when he was younger either, but they were two different children with two different experiences. I thank God I am close to them both, but I have to realize that distance will never change that bond : ) Thank you for your comment : )
Shawn I just love your stories I can see you sitting there telling me about it. You made me laugh. It is so true we “think” we can protect them from the world while we want our own parents to trust us. Letting go and letting God is one of the hardest things to do. I remember running all over center city looking for my son who was in school when I got a strange phone message and he couldn’t be found and that was just across the bridge. Thankfully all was well. It’s wonderful knowing you share common cares and concerns that others have, especially when they are a friend. You raised a beautiful secure daughter. You are truly an amazing mom; a little crazy, but amazing.
Baleeia, I am still laughing at your last sentence : ) I am happy you enjoyed the post. So… you ran all over center city before you checked to see if he was in school? lol Worry can make you absolutely nuts. Peace and love to you, girl.
Shawn, I already worry about my sons. I am more afraid for them than I was and still am for my daughters. I think that boys in general are naturally carefree, especially at the wrong time. Times that girls would naturally have their guard up. Once a certain age, boys seem to think simply because they are boys, that the world won’t chew them apart. Having a loving mother and mild mannered father can also aid in a relaxed disposition for boys. As much as we don’t want to believe, boys don’t exchange emotions and conversations with their moms like girls do. My sons don’t see the simplest things coming! They are dumb founded when things go wrong, things that could have been avoided simply by paying attention to details and signs. I can tell them something repeatedly, but until a truly unfavorable outcome occurs they don’t learn their lesson. Sometimes they still repeat the same stupid thing, as if oh, well! I can send them on a simple errand and they can’t even get to step two of the directions, without asking me to repeat the request. I can ask them to retrieve something for me and sometimes, I eventually have to get it for myself, only to find if they looked left, right, up, down or straight ahead they would have seen the item. So laid back. “An, If it was a snake, it would have bit you situation.” Their brains seems to be in neutral most of the time! They glide around the house with only a personal care for the moment at hand. They believe other males are an extension of themselves, woman are all flowers and people are not capable of being evil for no reason. I know they are only twelve. But, my nephew, who I helped raise, is now 27. He is still an airhead when it comes to simple situations. He faces more problems due to his lack of not paying attention to details, not being proactive or not being on guard to predictable situations. He is just a “happy go luck guy.” So, I am preparing my sons just as I did my daughters and keeping them close by my side. I teach them some thing everyday about the world, sharing my past and present experiences, as well other people’s experiences. I always share current events with them and expound on the subject. I like when they say, “We know mom, we know.” At least, I know they are listening. I am very afraid for them when it comes to them being of African American decent! For reasons any black person should naturally know and any aware white persons realizes! Being male, young and black…three strikes against them out the gate! I am preparing them for avoidance against those unjust strikes in addition to preparing them for life on their own!
You are not letting your guard down with your children whether they are boys or girls and understandably so. I could hear your voice as I read your response. I laughed at times because you are always so real, and I appreciate your honesty. If we focus on the statistics, we have a right to be concerned for our sons and daughters for that matter. Thank God, they have parents who love them and a God who blesses them. I tell both of my children to keep God first at all times. I may not always agree with their actions and decisions, but I try my best to trust that things will work out for the best for them because they trust God. It is sometimes easier said than done, of course, because deep down I still want to be able to tell them what to do and where to go. The best I can do is give parenting all I have and stay prayerful. Thank you so much for your comment.
So true! I think it’s in our DNA to fear the worst when our chidren are out of our reach. Four years ago when my daughter started school in Philly, I seriously wondered about how my little country bumpkin would survive the mean streets of Philly, but she continues to do okay. Just as your daughter survived Germany, she should do equally as well in Cambridge. I agree with Crystal that “good parents worry.” I enjoyed this post. Thank you!
You’re welcome! Yes, I do not know why we always fear the worse. I am going to purposely try to think of the best possible scenario from now on. Thank you for your comment!
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