Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Launching Kids

I know I'm supposed to write about embarrassment this month, but I just haven't been able to focus on that. Or on anything much related to writing, to be honest.

I'm launching my kids in some pretty dramatic ways, and I'm rather emotional about it.

My son turned 18 this year and graduated from high school. But we all agreed that going straight to college was not going to be the right path for him, so he spent much of his final semester deciding on a gap year scenario that would work and figuring out how to afford it. He chose working in Africa -- three months in Kenya, six months in the Gambia -- and worked basically full time all summer to earn enough money so that, along with gifts from family, he could go. And come back.

The equipment costs alone were astounding. And the vaccinations. Not to mention the flights, of course.

This is my son -- my youngest, my 18 year old child -- in the airport on September 2 -- heading off on a series of international flights all by himself.

He made it to Kenya safe and sound after 30+ hours of travel. Thankfully, there was WiFi in the Mombasa airport so we were able to Facebook chat (he has no cellphone there) and learn that it was nearly 90 degrees at 4 am and he was exhausted but okay and had all his stuff.

And there were monkeys in the airport.

What an adventure he is on.

I'm thrilled for him.

If we're lucky, we'll get Facebook posts from him once or twice a month from Kenya. When he gets to Gambia, he'll have more regular internet access so we'll have more contact, but that's not for a long time.

I'm in a place where I want to look at his pictures all the time, but I can't look at his picture because it makes me cry. You know? But he's doing what he wants and needs to do, and I'm doing what I need to do as his parent: letting him go.

My elder child, who just turned 20 and has left their teens behind, departs in two days for their study abroad semester in London. Since they will be in London, we'll have more contact so I'm not as worried, and I'll be visiting in December after the semester ends because LONDON!

Here's a picture of their suitcase. Remember, they leave in two days:

They're so ready. :)

Yeah, I'm not so ready either...

Thanks for listening.


  1. I think it's wonderful that you're encouraging your children to travel; this time in their lives is the perfect opportunity for them to do so because it'll be harder (though not necessarily impossible) for them to travel like this when they're older and have more responsibilities, like work and family.

    1. Oh I know! It's so great that they're doing it. It's just hard to be the one left at home. :)

  2. What is it they say about the best gifts for your children are roots and wings? You're an awesome mom and they will both have amazing adventures...that being said, I get it. Sending tons of hugs for YOU. <3

    1. Oh, thank you Jodi! Roots and wings... what a lovely image! <3

  3. Your post really resonates! I just dropped my youngest off at college a week ago. And while she has internet access, she's too busy loving her new home to contact us much! My oldest daughter just graduated from college and has decided to stay on the other side of the country.

    I keep telling myself: this is what I've always wanted for them.

    1. Oh, I know! It's so hard! But college is such a wonderful time for them (we know it deep down), and to know that she's "busy loving her new home" is such great news! Hugs to all us parents letting go...

  4. How wonderful that your children have the confidence to go and do these magnificent things! (That said, as a mom, I am dreading this day.)

    Fun fact: My suitcase usually looks like that until the night before. It's just hard to pack ahead of time.

    Can you write them letters? When I was 17, I went on a summer exchange to Brazil. It was only three weeks, but in 1999 there was no videochat, and not even phone calls except in dire emergencies. The coordinators had our parents write us letters to send with us and open while we were there, and it was so nice to see my mom's handwriting and helped a lot with homesickness and culture shock.

    1. I asked about that -- I wanted to mail a Halloween care package -- but I was told it's just not reliable enough. :( So we have to wait for internet on Sundays if he manages to get in touch. We had some lovely pictures last weekend!

      I will definitely be writing to Newt in London, though.