From the moment you meet your child there is love but also a strong sense you cannot let anything bad happen to them. You would do anything to protect this child from harm and disappointment. But, it is not your job to protect from disappointment, for how can your child grow and become independent if not for trying and perhaps failing? I am the mother of twins. I am also a retired military officer. When I was first told I was carrying twins, I did everything I was told to make sure they were not born premature. I was lucky, my daughters were born full-term and healthy. When I brought them home I wanted to give them the world. I also wanted to show them the world. When I traveled for my job, I sent post-cards and brought home small amounts of money to show them the different coins and bills. We vacationed in Hawaii. We drove to Niagara Falls and went across the border to Canada. We took a school sponsored trip to France and Spain. We visited family in Italy. We traveled, but we traveled together. And then they went away to university.
When my daughters went away to university, they did not stay close. We live in Colorado and they chose to attend separate universities in Washington State. They were about 300 miles (about 480 km) apart from each other and almost 2000 miles (about 3200 km) away from home. Far, but less than a 2 day drive, so I could visit. This independence was something I wanted but why so far away I would ask myself. And then it happened, they wanted to volunteer. It started local, at the university and in the community. But opportunity arose to travel. So they went through their universities to New Orleans, Jamaica, Thailand, Japan, Ghana, Morocco, and Guatemala. Then graduation and a desire to help so my youngest went to Rwanda and then to Thailand. She is now in New Zealand and interns at GVN.
I can’t say I was surprised they volunteered, they were very empathetic when they were children. Plus, I volunteer and hope I was a good role model for them. But so far away from home, overseas, different time zones, countries I had not visited, places I had not seen, people I did not know. How could I let go? How could I take care of them? What if something happened? In the back of my mind I knew I had let them go become independent young women when they left for college, so how was this different. Logically it wasn’t different, emotionally it was difficult because I just did not want to let go of the tenuous tie of them being on the same continent within a car drive or 2-hour plane flight.
However, they did go and we used the internet, email, cell phones, skype, facetime, Facebook, and text messages to provide much needed communication between all of us. They dealt with loneliness, conflict, homesickness, unfamiliar food, and different cultures. And they thrived.
They raised money to support their efforts. They used “Go Fund Me”, wrote letters, held fund raising drives at school, and even took money out of their savings account to pay for these adventures. They sacrificed their time, talent, and treasure to go after their goal to help others. We helped them where we could with plane tickets or spending money but most of the funds they raised by themselves. They grew and continue to grow as people, as students, as employees, as members of the human race, and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I am one proud mama and I wouldn’t change a thing about either of my children.
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