What if she missed a connection? What if she got lost? What if she forgot her passport? What if she was injured/mugged/kidnapped? What if…?
It still surprises me that we no longer have small children for whom we are totally responsible, and that our three babies have grown up to be young adults who, for all intents and purposes, are totally independent. Living in another country on the other side of the world has had a two-fold effect:
1) It has given us the space to rediscover what it is like to be a couple in a relationship, exploring new things and just enjoying each other’s company; and
2) It has completed the separation between us and our children, allowing them to explore their own lives, independent living arrangements and not having us looking over their shoulders to make sure they are ‘doing it right’.
Of course we miss them – we think and talk about them often, and wonder what they are doing and how they are managing. But for the most part, we recognise that this is how life is meant to be – that we didn’t have children in order to keep them as babies for ever, we had them and raised them to be independent members of society, and we just hope that they love us enough to still want to see and talk to us occasionally on skype.
I really couldn’t believe it when Catherine told me she was coming to Switzerland for a holiday. I cried. I got excited. And then I started to worry. After all, it’s a long journey with multiple flights, and she had never traveled alone before. What if she missed a connection? What if she got lost? What if she forgot her passport? What if she was injured/mugged/kidnapped? What if…? Of course, I should have known better. Catherine was the first to leave home, and has been quite independent for a number of years now. She’s sensible, capable, and very organised. She admitted to being a little worried about the journey before she left, but managed it beautifully and arrived safely. I can’t explain just how good it was to see her walk through the doors into the arrivals hall, and to be able to put my arms around her for a hug. Seeing Catherine made me realise just how much I am missing all of our children and grandson and that I can’t wait to see them all again.
Three weeks goes by very quickly. It seems that just yesterday we were counting down the days until her arrival, and now she is safely back on Australian soil and we are on our own again. It was a busy three weeks. We had a mother-daughter trip to Prague and spent four days sightseeing and trying to stop our fingers and toes from freezing. Then with Anura we took a trip to Naples and Pompeii where it was much warmer, with a climb up to the top of Mount Vesuvius. We had four days in London, visiting Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London, shopping (Hamley’s toy store!), seeing Mamma Mia and Lion King in the West End, and catching up with family and friends. Then two days in Wales, where we saw Madness in concert and went to the Dr Who Experience. And of course a few days here in Geneva, shopping, catching up with the cousins, and watching dvds (The Office, US version) and just spending time together.
I’m sure Catherine thinks I nagged her. I did make her get out of bed before 2pm every day. I suggested she do the odd load of washing, clean up her room, sort out her suitcase. I cooked some of her favourite foods and made her eat them. Actually I tried really hard not to smother her, and to recognise that she is an independent woman who is not used to sharing her space with another woman. But mothers sometimes just can’t help themselves, can they?
Saying goodbye was tough. I managed to get through the hugging and waving her off through airport security without totally losing it. And then I cried most of the way home and moped around for the rest of the day wondering how she was and hoping the flight would not be too horrible. Now I am missing her desperately and waiting for the next skype call, and counting down the months until I see her again; but at the same time I am reassured that she is doing okay, that she doesn’t need me to tell her what to do or how to do it, and can manage very well on her own. And that makes me just a little bit proud, and relieved. Somewhere along the line, we must have got a little bit of that parenting business right, even though she tells us we treated her badly because she was the middle child and that we have ‘scarred her for life’.