Our oldest daughter leaves today for a year (or more) of teaching English in Korea. She and her husband have been planning to do this type of travel since long before they were married. Now, today they leave.
We said our good-byes to them Friday morning before we departed for a pre-planned trip to Toad Hall, our second home. This trip includes several other family members and friends, so changing our plans because of their departure date didn’t seem feasible. I’ve been pretty stoic about their leaving. After all, she’s an adult, a married woman. But she’s also my daughter.
Coincidentally, I am reading a memoir right now about a mother and her grown daughter (Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor). As I sat quietly reading early this morning, my phone indicated an incoming text message. I clicked on it to see a photo of Son #2, his girlfriend and our oldest daughter at the airport with the message, “Sending her off right.” It turns out our son and his girlfriend surprised our daughter (and me) by showing up at the airport this morning to send her off. All my stoicism disappeared in tears.
I cried because I’m so proud of my son for showing up for his sister. I cried because my daughter is leaving for an entire year. I cried because I’m so happy she and her husband are heading off on this adventure – an adventure I hope will provide an even stronger foundation for their relationship as they rely on one another to navigate the unknowns. I cried because I know strengthening their relationship will lead to less reliance on me. I cried because I realize their adventure is the beginning of many for them, while my adventures – though I still plan to have many – are more limited in number. My adventures will also not be the type that take me away for a year. Like a young runner easily accomplishes a marathon, an older runner is often happy conquering a 10k.
On an emotional level, I, like the mother in the book, am afraid of losing my daughter. I also realize her growing up means I am growing older. However, on a rational level, I understand this is all part of the process of life. I understand they will return eventually. I understand I have not become an old crone simply because my daughter is spreading her wings. What I don’t understand is why I cannot stop the tears from flowing.