Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Encouraging words for the mother of a spring break traveler March 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:09 AM

I REALLY AM NOT good at this thing called “letting go.”

Thursday afternoon I cried as I embraced my second daughter. I had just gotten used to having Miranda around the house and at the supper table for a few days when she packed her bags and headed back to college in La Crosse.

Then today, oh, today. My 16-year-old son left hours ago for the airport, beginning a journey that takes him on a Spanish class trip to Spain. I expect the next 10 days to crawl, creep as if in slow motion for me.

I am feeling today like I felt nearly 10 years ago when I sent my oldest daughter away on a mission trip to Texas. The separation was heart-wrenching for me. Not for her. But I survived and then allowed my daughters to leave again and again. I sort of got used to their travels, even the journeys to foreign countries.

But this time it’s different. This is my youngest, who has never flown, who hasn’t been away from home without us all that often. And that is exactly the reason my husband and I allowed Caleb to go. We know he needs to get out in the world, to see and experience different cultures and places.

This separation I will endure for those reasons.

Family and friends understand how challenging this is for me and have offered their support.

“Today will be the roughest,” my son’s godmother writes in an email. “You said yes because you knew about all the things he’ll learn on such a trip. Airports, customs, traveling with a group that isn’t family, hotel stays… All of those things are eye opening for a teenager. Not to mention, seeing Spain? How cool will that be?”

A friend writes: “What a great experience for your son to go to Spain…what awesome parents you are to let him go off for such a life experience at his age… I can totally feel for you not wanting to let him go, but he’ll be ok…you wouldn’t be letting him go if you didn’t think he was mature enough and smart enough to go along…he’ll never forget this time that you gave him and trusted him…”

Then there’s this comment from a sister-in-law who clearly understands my anxiety: “I can’t imagine—I thought children doing college travel abroad was difficult.”

Yet another sister-in-law warns me of what may lie ahead: “…when Caleb returns he’ll do nothing but repeat over and over how he wants to return to Spain!”

Been there, done that with my second daughter and Argentina.

Finally, the absolute best comment, which made me laugh out loud, comes from my 17-year-old niece: “Oh he’ll have so much fun! Don’t worry yourself to death; he needs a mom to come home to. 🙂 I leave for Costa Rica on Monday so if you’re missing Caleb, call my mom and you two can bond over it.”

That certainly puts my situation in the proper humorous perspective, doesn’t it?

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling