When does parenting get easier? Just when I exhale and stop worrying about one child, another one is waiting in the wings to surprise me with something.
My oldest daughter is currently living the dream. Instead of going to college one mile away from home, she is now over 5,000 miles away, studying abroad this semester. It has been a dream of hers since before she started college. As a parent, it has been exciting to see her spread her wings and it has certainly been a lesson in letting go on my part – that is, once I finally got her on the plane.
One of the fist hurdles was helping her pull loose ends together a couple of days before her departure. I think she spent more time saying good-bye to her friends “just one last time” than she did preparing for the actual trip. It didn’t help that her dad, who travels abroad much more often than I do, was out of town. (It figures.) International phone packages, current passport rules and international check-in were not things I addressed regularly. I prayed for patience since these were all things I would have taken care of at least a week before the trip, not less than 24 hours before departure.
I was also the sole parent for the last-minute packing rush as she frantically went from room-to-room gathering things. I must have answered nearly 1,000 questions, or at least tried to.
“How many pairs of jeans should I pack? What about shoes? Do you think I’ll need cold medicine when I’m there? Do I go through customs at my connecting airport?”
“No, dear. You will still be in the U.S.”
“How does that all work anyway? Do you think I even need to bring a purse? Will this bag pass for a carry-on and what about my personal item? Is it too big?” She was just getting started.
After helping her decide what to pack and what to leave, we weighed her suitcase. After repacking three times, she cleared the 50-pound weight limit on our scale at home. Nevertheless, we still held our breath at the airport until the scale stopped at 49 pounds. My daughter quickly snapped a photo with her phone, no doubt to post this achievement on Instagram so all of her followers could celebrate, too.
As we waited at the airport, passing time with three of her siblings, she started to get last-minute jitters. She was worried about much bigger things than she had let on prior. The tears started to come. As most parents would, I tried to reassure her that she was going to have the trip of a lifetime and come back with too many amazing memories to count.
When it was time for her to go through airport security, we said our good-byes to each other “just one last time.” I let go, smiled bravely (as did she), and said a prayer that she would be able handle anything that came her way while traveling abroad.
Lisa Baniewicz is an Atchison resident and mom with five children ranging in age from 8-20 years old.