My youngest daughter recently went on a trip to Great Britain with her grandparents; she had a wonderful time. It was probably the biggest adventure of her life, so far. When the trip was still in the planning stages, we made arrangements for her return home. She was to stay the night at her aunt’s house and then ride the train home from Chicago the next evening. I was a little nervous about her travelling alone, but she is growing up so I agreed to let her do it. However, on the day she arrived back in the States, plans changed.
They had been gone for 10 days. She was tired, travel-weary and homesick. She sent me a text message that said she wished she would have agreed to let me come pick her up instead of staying another day and riding the train. She was ready to come home. So, because I’m her mom, I got in my car, drove to Illinois and picked her up. I’d like to point out that she never asked me to come get her and her text message was not a form of manipulation; she doesn’t operate that way. She was simply being honest about her feelings. It took quite a bit of reassurance to convince her that no one would be upset about the change in plans and that I didn’t mind driving down to get her. Once the decision was made, her relief was evident. The only thing that has bothered me in this situation are the unsolicited opinions of other people.
Since my return home, I’ve been told by a few people that I shouldn’t “baby” her; that I need to toughen her up and prepare her for the real world. And my initial and correct response to this is: No. No I don’t!
If I truly babied her, maybe they would have a point; I don’t. This is my child who chose to leave traditional high-school and enroll in a virtual school so she could graduate a year early (while also taking some college courses). This is the young women who, at 17 is entering her freshman year of college and already has a job on campus. She is not babied. As far as “toughening her up” for the real world; I have a pretty strong opinion about that too.
It is not my job to make her tough. The ugly side of this world will try do that all on it’s own. There are plenty of people that will take advantage of or use her. She will face failure and disappointment. She will have to try new things that make her a little fearful or nervous. That’s how life works. What she needs from me is sanctuary. A soft place to land in this tough world; a place where you are taught about the ugly side, but not a place you experience it. A refuge where you learn to be strong, not tough. (There is a difference.) I want to show her the beautiful side of life. I want to be the one to bandage the scraped knee, not the one who pushes her down. I want to comfort her when she cries, not break her heart and make her cry. My job is to help her rest and recover when the world beats her up, so she has the strength and courage to face it again.
Would she have been okay if she had to take the train home? Absolutely. Would it have been an opportunity to try something new? Yep. Do I regret going to pick her up? No way. She will have plenty of opportunity to ride trains and try things on her own, but my opportunities to be her sanctuary are dwindling; I’m going to seize them whenever I can. And do you know why they are dwindling? Because she’s no baby.