Today is a rite of passage for me as a mother and I’m having a hard time with it.
My 15 year old is heading to Mongolia on a World Challenge expedition. Her rucksack, tent, sleeping bag and everything else she’s going to need for the next month are packed. She’s worked hard to be able to go on this trip and it’s been a huge focus in our household for months as she’s run a tie-dye t-shirt business out of my garage to help fundraise for the trip.
But it’s all been sort of theoretical for me – it was happening in the future. I knew it was coming up but didn’t think too much about it. But today it has hit me that she’s leaving for a month and won’t have any way to contact me. She’ll be trekking both on foot and horseback in the countryside and then working on a landscaping project at an orphanage. Their team has been told there is no way to send messages home except for the few days they are in the capital of Ulaanbaatar.
In this 24/7 world of texting, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat this hardly seems possible. How am I going to go a whole month without hearing from her and knowing she’s ok?
But the rational side of my brain tells me that if there is a serious accident, I’d be notified by World Challenge and she’d be medevacked out of the country.
So when I sat in my sadness today and got curious about it, I realised the bigger picture is what’s really bothering me.
Despite travelling internationally since she was six weeks old, this is her first expedition or adventure on her own, as a quasi-grown up. She’s going somewhere no one else in her family has been, will see things that will change her ideas and opinions on poverty, food, public transport, cleanliness standards and so many other things. She will come home with ideas that won’t be something that she’s learned from her family or friends but from seeing a very different culture with her own eyes.
Like most (all?) big questions or dilemmas in life, this results in a paradox for me.
Yes, I’m excited for her to do this as she has been raised to be a responsible global citizen and this is just the next step in her journey. She will meet interesting people, see incredible scenery and learn more about herself and her team mates.
But I’m sad because this is a big step towards her leaving me and flying the nest. She will come home one more step closer to being grown up. And one more step closer to making her own way in the world without me.
It’s a natural process and one that I know has to happen, it just seems like it’s happening earlier than what I had expected. And that makes me sad.
I know my children are a gift that are just on loan to me for a short while. And I’m grateful for every minute they want to be with me.
I hope she has an absolutely amazing time. As sad as I am about the fact that her childhood with me is coming to an end, I also know that this is an exciting beginning for her…travel and adventure of her own and her own life story to tell.