Safe Haven

The flower and event studio where my eldest daughter works recently had a launch party to which I was invited. I arrived on the Friday night only knowing two other guests other than my daughter and her boss, the owner of the studio. The party was attended by current corporate clients of the studio, other business owners in the area and management from various restaurants and venues around Canberra that have had partnerships with the flower studio in the past.

As I watched, many people came up and talked to my daughter. They praised her artistic talent and talked easily with her. It was obvious that many of them respected her work and had an easy rapport with her. As her mother, it was lovely to watch.

It was a bit like watching a juvenile bird fledge the nest. This was the first public event that I had attended where my daughter had a whole sphere of people who knew her and had absolutely nothing to do with me.

I’ve been involved in every sphere of her life up until now. From daycare, to preschool, primary school, high school, basketball, family friends, school friends… I’ve known pretty much everyone in her life. But now, she has built a whole new life without me.

That’s my job. Getting her ready for adulthood. I knew it eighteen years ago when she arrived in this world and it’s what I’ve been preparing her (and me) for. I’m proud of her and how she navigates her life. She’s found her passion in flowers and plants and is creating a name for herself in her work arena.

She’s also making decisions about her life next year. Heading to university and faced with a lot of different choices. She’s a young woman with the world at her feet.

Which makes her nervous and scared at times.

Luckily we have a great relationship and she still includes me and wants to hear my opinion (even if she chooses her own path). She knows she’s got a safe haven where she can come to have a melt down, talk things over, figure things out and then face the world again.

Don’t we all need that sometimes? A safe haven where we can have a melt down, talk things over, figure things out and then face the world again?

There’s many times when I’m trying to hold this whole adulting thing together, but all I really want is a safe haven. Even if it’s just for five minutes. I’d like to consult that fictional life manual “How to be an adult” and get some advice. Unfortunately, that manual doesn’t exist and we all have to try to do the best we can each day without it.

On my recent trip to the US I spent a week with my family. On our last night together I felt like each member of my family wanted too much of me. I had things I needed to do, but each of them wanted their needs met too and I felt overwhelmed. I went into my parents’ room at our hotel and sat on the bed. I felt defeated and slumped over onto the bed with a moan. My mom asked what was wrong and I said, ‘I just want to be a kid again for five minutes.’ And for the next five minutes, I was. My dad sat next to me on the bed on one side and my mom on the other. They both just let me be. I started crying, from tiredness to begin with, then from acknowledging I was upset about leaving the next day, and then finally I realised I was crying because that moment was probably the last time that I would ever have this feeling of being a kid. Sitting between my parents. Having them both concentrate their love for me on me. Both of them concerned and just letting me cry it out. For those five minutes, that was my safe haven. And I was fully present and grateful for it.

Five minutes later I got up and put my adult armour back on. I figured out a compromise to make everyone in my family happy and faced the world again.

I’ve thought about that five minute span many times since I’ve returned home. I think no matter how old we get, whether our parents are alive or not, no matter how long it’s been since we fledged the nest, we all still need to have a safe haven.

We might not be able to reverse the hands of time and actually be kids again (Would your really want to?? I wouldn’t.) but we can offer those we love a safe haven. A place to take off the adult armour, have a melt down, talk things over, figure things out and then face the world again. I’m grateful for those few people in my life who are my safe haven. I might not need them often, but when I need them, they are there.

Now if I could just find a manual on How to Adult, life would be really good.

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