My oldest graduated from high school at the beginning of June. His final year of high school was challenging and it was a major relief, for both of us, that that time in his life is over. Rather than jumping straight into college, he’s decided to take a semester off before deciding what to do next. During that time off, he wants to travel the world and have experiences that aren’t centered around academics.
In theory, I love this idea. I believe travel is a great privilege and leads to more empathetic people and informed, global citizens. In practice, it scares the hell out of me. For a mom with anxiety, my nights are already filled with real and imagined dangerous situations that my 17 year old son could find himself in at any given moment. I try really hard to temper my desire to protect my kids, with my responsibility as a parent to foster independence. How on earth was I going to send this kid into unchartered (by me) territories and still sleep at night?
My compromise was to choose a young adult travel program which added a layer of supervision and safety, without requiring unseemly mommy hand holding throughout the process. Someone else would be there to make sure he’s making his flight/train/bus/ferry on time, eating, drinking water, generally staying safe and alive.
I won’t lie, I’m still worried. I still miss him and gaze longingly into his dark, empty bedroom. But I get regular updates from the program about his itinerary with a proof of life photo attached (my words, not theirs), so my son can fully immerse himself in his trip without daily text messages from his anxious mom. Are you there safely? Did you eat? Where are you sleeping? Who did you meet? Ugh.
I’m thrilled that my son gets to have this adventure and grateful that I can go about my life without worrying every second of every day. It’s good training for both of us. He’ll pick up skills and become a more seasoned traveller and I get practice letting go. I’m fairly certain I’ll have a much harder time learning my lesson than he does learning his.