Yesterday evening, after a lovely outdoor Milonga by the riverside in Granada, a group of people went to a café for a drink and some Tapas. I got talking to a German couple and they asked me about the purpose of our journey. The purpose of this journey, I tell them, is two-fold… celebrating the closing of one chapter and the opening of another.
I tell them how, about 20 years ago, when I was pregnant with my second daughter, I made a deal with myself to go on a long journey once my children left home – and here we are. I’ve always thought of this journey as a rite of passage, a moment where I celebrate having done a 23 year-long ‘job’ as a mother to the best of my abilities, and to move into a different chapter, where hopefully my daughters will be on a more equal footing to me, more like friends than parent and child. I anticipated that I would have a time of separation, not just physically but also emotionally, from them. It turns out that while I may be physically further away from them (although it probably doesn’t make a difference to Yolanda, who studies in Berlin, whether I’m in England or in Spain), emotionally I feel much more connected to them. It may be that I have more time to think about them, to be in touch via email, facebook and skype, to take part in their lives as much as they want to share their joys and worries. The conversation flows on into what it is like to be a parent of grown-up children. When I hear about my daughters’ struggles with everything that it means to meet the adult world – relationships, finance, bureaucracy, jobs, authorities, deadlines etc. – I feel for them, and the urge to step in and help is always there. But increasingly, I hold back a bit and let themselves come to terms with what they need to do to solve a problem. So my feelings sway from one extreme to the other: sleepless nights of worry change from one day to the next into feelings of pride about how they find/fight their way through a problem, how they gradually stand on their own two feet, which is a lot harder in today’s world than it was for me at that time, especially seeing as I was in sweet and sheltered Dartington, and both my daughters have chosen big cities to contend with (London and Berlin). Of course I’m happy to help when they falter, but increasingly they manage very well on their own, or find people nearby to help them out. Soon the tables will turn and they’ll help me instead.
A friend of mine once said ‘you are only as happy as your unhappiest child’. That is very true, and somehow when you are travelling these feelings are stronger than when you are at home where you can distract yourself with your daily routine.
I keep dreaming about different stages in our lives together, as if my psyche is letting things move once again past my inner eye. I meet my girls again as babies, as children, as teenagers and in the present tense.
I’m so grateful to have been involved with raising two such delightful girls, and watching them grow into fantastic women. It’s been a good time.
Of course, I will always remain mother of my children. Just the outer form changes.
The second purpose of the journey is that it is Frank’s and my honeymoon.
Here are my girls, ‘giving me away’ at our Wedding – it was a very special moment for me to have them both there and giving their blessing on our union.
I m so happy to have met my special man, to share the next big chapter in life, to have a companion for whatever this journey will bring, and everything that follows.
For pictures of our wild and wonderful wedding last August, go to Flikr.
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