Monthly Archives: December 2010

Letting Children Fly (Or Not)

Christmas Day started out real laid back … just meandering through the hours … because someone else was fixing Christmas dinner.  Time for phone calls to loved ones and visits with neighbors.  Lots of reminiscing.  Even a Facebook post or two.

Then came a long drive south.  Everyone else on the road was apparently frantic to reach their destinations, if I count the number of times I was cut off in traffic.  But then, South Florida drivers are notorious for that, no matter which day of year.

I was greeted by my hosts with the normal warm, loving hugs and a glass of fine white wine.  Dinner preparations were under control so we could relax out in the garden and just talk.  It was a “grown ups” day.

But in the background, the hosts’ daughter was madly packing up her car, plus her parents’ Hummer, with all her worldly possessions.  At dawn, they’d begin their drive across country to where she had taken a new job.

Her mother told me her daughter had broken down a couple of times, but that she had told her the story about not pursuing her own dreams when she was young and how that always left a question mark in her mind.  So, although she’d miss her daughter terribly, she knew the right thing was to encourage her to go.

That wasn’t an easy thing to do.  Their family is extremely close and their kids, while all living away from home, feel no need to move far away.  In fact, some even work in the family business.  But this was their youngest, and she was ready to go spread her wings and fly.

Or was she?

One by one we’d stroll back to her bedroom and give her little pep talks to help her overcome what we could see was her growing hesitation.  Her grateful smiles but soft “I don’t know” could be read however you wanted.

Just as dinner was about to be served, she announced she wouldn’t be eating with us, but instead wanted to go see her lifelong friends one last time.  She was reminded to get home “early” … and that meant before 5 a.m. when the little procession of cars would be pulling out.  She kissed everyone and floated off.

Christmas dinner was delicious, the result of lots of experimenting with new recipes, all of it successful.  As the evening wound down, I bundled up and left on my long drive home.

In the car I had a funny feeling that the “procession” wouldn’t be leaving the next morning.  But when I called to say that I had gotten home safely, I didn’t mention it.

I wasn’t surprised to get an email early next morning saying that their daughter canceled the trip.  She had decided she wasn’t ready to move away.

As I sat sipping my first cup of coffee, I thought about the whole scenario.  It’s so natural for us to want to assign “right” or “wrong” to events.  But this is one case where there isn’t one.

Sometimes in our lives, we just need to go with our gut.  And our heart.

There’s always another day.