A Problem in the Wiring

I have been thinking this for a while, but I just want to throw it out there. I think parenting is totally f***ed.

I think it’s way too hard, and I don’t know why any of us do it. It’s dirty, loud, expensive, painful, has long hours and no labour laws, and I don’t know if you’ve figured it out yet, but it totally costs you money. Oh sure, I know… at this point a whole bunch of you are going to say “but what about the wonderful rewards?” and I’d like to point out that I am the mother of three two teenaged girls, and dudes, while it certainly has its incredible moments, and I would be the first to tell you that raising beautiful, strong, incredible women is absolutely something that the planet needs – I just want to say that from where I’m sitting today, I can see that there’s a downside to to fostering intelligence and independence in your children, and if I had known that it would end this way, I might have thought through my parenting techniques a little better so as to have more control at this point. See, this is what happened last night.

Amandagoing300809

That’s Amanda, my beautiful and clever 20 year old daughter, and she’s in an airport, because last night, after months of finishing school, and working three (that’s 3) jobs to raise the money, last night she went to Australia.

That’s right. AUSTRALIA, and she isn’t going for just a little while either. She’s gone just about as far as you can go from Toronto, and she’ll be back at Christmas. Four (4) months. Four months without laying eyes on her – and really, this is where I think parenting is a total hose-job, because last night, after months of knowing she was going, helping her get ready, talking to her about it and really… really believing with every single molecule of my body that this is a good, good thing…

I wanted her to stay.

Despite having given unlimited lectures on the benefits of travel, of independence, of seeing the world and learning all sorts of things that you can’t learn if you stay put… despite having parented for two whole decades in a manner that would make it possible for her to do something like go to Australia…. Despite really thinking that she’s going to come back an even better woman than she left… despite believing that now – before she has a career, mortgage and family is absolutely the time to go… Despite the fact that I would go with her or hell – instead of her if I didn’t have a career, mortgage and family… Despite the way that I really believe that travel only ever improved people… Despite the fact that she’ll be with family for much of the time, despite how capable she is… despite how much I think this is going to be a miraculous time in her life…

I still wanted her to stay, here, with me, where I can see her – forever, and that my friends, is why parenting is f***ed, because that’s the whole set up. The whole thing. Nature hard wires you to want them close and worry about them for their whole lives, and then demands that if you’re doing it right that they then really boldly walk away into their own destinies and leave you standing there, still feeling like you’re totally in charge of whether or not they live or die or get a sandwich, and then, they get on a plane and there’s nothing you can do about it except for — get this, this is rich… HELP THEM GO AND TELL THEM IT’S A GOOD IDEA. Which is exactly what I did, and I just want it on record that I think shouting “Have a good time! Be careful! Be brave! Have a ton of fun!” at the back of a departing 20 year old is just about the most nausea inducing juxtaposition of crap I’ve ever had to do

— since all I wanted to yell was “Stay here!” or “I’m coming with you!” or “For the love of god be careful every minute because I’m suddenly worried that I didn’t list everything that you should be anxious about and I might not have warned you properly and I’m not sure that I mentioned that I’m a little optimistic and I should have told you that some of humanity isn’t as kind as I might have led you to believe, and also not all men are decent to women and you’re really pretty so remember to use your brain when you deal with them, even if they are a sheep shearer because, well – who wouldn’t understand that, and also did I tell you that Australia has more species of poisonous EVERYTHING than anywhere else on earth and holy crap this is the worst idea ever please, please, please don’t go, just stay here with me but not actually with me because I think you’re too old to live at home but really close by was awesome.”

All of that ran through my head, and I smiled, and put her toiletries in a ziplock for the plane and got her a credit card in case anything really terrible happens and then off she went… to Australia, and it’s not that I miss her already, because she really hasn’t been gone that long, it’s that I’m acutely aware that one of my girls has never been this far from me before and it feels like it’s too far, and I don’t know if that’s because I’m a control freak, or because there’s some invisible bond to your child that lasts your whole life, or because (as I believe I have already stated) parenting is f***ed.

In any case, Aussie knitters, look to my girl, will ya? She’s a sweet, trusting, clever, very funny 20 year old Canadian, and she’s yours for the next 4 months. If you see her, give her a hug and buy her a pint (one) and tell her that her mum says … well. Just tell her I said to have fun and be brave and that I miss her a lot, but not so much that she should worry or come home or anything, and certainly don’t tell her I cried. Just watch out for her. You’ll be able to spot her…

Amandasockgone30-8-9-1

She’s got a sock.

671 thoughts on “A Problem in the Wiring

  1. Oh wow! I’m sure we’ll all keep our eyes open for Amanda. I hope she gets to see a bit of this wide brown land of ours. Spring in Australia is probably a very good choice πŸ™‚

  2. She’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. I’ve met my share of lousy parents and you are DEFINITELY not one of them. She is very lucky. Many of us would gladly trade some of our insane parents for you so you’ve definitely done something right.
    Besides, she’s going to a country that started as a prison colony, how bad could this be? =^P

  3. Stephanie, she will have a wonderful adventure and you are a wonderful Mom to send her off on it!
    I know because my parents let me fly (alone) to South Africa in 1972 when I was 16 and stay for a year and live with strangers, some of whom became my life-long friends. They still love to guilt-trip me with how much they cried over it at the time! Hang in there . . . at least you can exchange emails with pictures and even Skype!

  4. My sympathies! God this parenting is hard, the only relationship in our lives where separation is the goal! I say it’s b—s— and we claim our children for our own! Mom’s unite! Hell, I want my daughter to grow to stand on her own two feet, just wish time would go a bit slower (she’s 16, thinks she’s 18) and I know there is only a very limited time left with her with us as our “child” here at home. Go have a beer, or two, maybe three, you’ve done your job well, and, well, we all know that this sucks sometimes. What a lovely smile she has, and I vote she posts pics of her sock.

  5. Hurrah for all of you! You do realize that part of being a good parent, as you certainly are, is having the courage to grow yourself, as you are doing right now. As Amanda spreads her strong and beautiful wings, you are ungluing yours. I am proud of all of you.

  6. Goddess bless you both – I wish I could go with her too. I just spent a couple of weeks listening to Bill Bryson’s “In A Sunburned Country”, and for sure it is really an amazing place, full of wonders and astonishingly poisonous things (as you said). I am sure she will have a wonderful time and return with amazing tales to tell – and at least one sock. Hope it makes it through airport security!
    It is easy for me to say all this, since my oldest child is only 19 and going as far as Chicago to college. I am sure my day will come!

  7. Goddess bless you both – I wish I could go with her too. I just spent a couple of weeks listening to Bill Bryson’s “In A Sunburned Country”, and for sure it is really an amazing place, full of wonders and astonishingly poisonous things (as you said). I am sure she will have a wonderful time and return with amazing tales to tell – and at least one sock. Hope it makes it through airport security!
    It is easy for me to say all this, since my oldest child is only 19 and going as far as Chicago to college. I am sure my day will come!

  8. Will look out for her in Brissy. There is a heat wave over here in Queensland at the moment. Hope she packed for sunshine.

  9. OMG!!!!!!! I can’t imagine having to let my boys do such a thing, though my oldest has just started high school today. i’m not really ready for the steps you have just taken…letting her go. you could have taped her to a chair or something..haha..i would have done so anyways. but hey…at least she has a sock, and by the time she reaches australia she should have 2 done, considering the time it takes to get there

  10. Hurrah for all of you! You do realize that part of being a good parent, as you certainly are, is having the courage to grow yourself, as you are doing right now. As Amanda spreads her strong and beautiful wings, you are ungluing yours. I am proud of all of you.

  11. You’re absolutely right. If you do it right, they leave and it hurts. If you don’t do it right, they stay, and that brings its own particular type of pain (usually in your backside). It’s probably no consolation, but just be thankful that we live when we do, and communication is easier than, say, postcards. She’ll do fine, and you’ll do fine, and before you know it, she’ll be back for Christmas. Speaking form experience, every time they leave it gets a little easier. You stop taking responsibility, but you never stop worrying. Now go and knit something and take your mind off her big adventure.

  12. I was 21 when I moved away from home 6 years ago(Ontario to Alberta) and while it was hard for my parents (still is even though I talk to them several times a week), it was also the best thing I could have done. A little bit of independence and self sufficiency does wonders for the soul as does exploring a new area. It reinforced all of those good qualities and had the bonus of making my mother “appreciate” the opportunity to do my laundry when I came back for visits.

  13. How wonderful that sweet Amanda is growing up to be such a lovely young woman, and she’ll be even more wonderful after getting out and seeing more of the world. Remember that this loveliness is a reflection of her mother and father-you’ve done what you could, the best way you knew how, and now she’s flying. Literally.
    And if all else fails, at least she has the sock.

  14. Cool – I hope Amanda gets to do some travelling around this wide brown land of ours. I’m sure all the Aussie knitters will keep an eye out. Spring is nice time of the year down here – she will have a fabulous time!!

  15. Goddess bless you both – I wish I could go with her too. I just spent a couple of weeks listening to Bill Bryson’s “In A Sunburned Country”, and for sure it is really an amazing place, full of wonders and astonishingly poisonous things (as you said). I am sure she will have a wonderful time and return with amazing tales to tell – and at least one sock. Hope it makes it through airport security!
    It is easy for me to say all this, since my oldest child is only 19 and going as far as Chicago to college. I am sure my day will come!

  16. Stephanie, she will have a wonderful adventure and you are a wonderful Mom for sending her off on it!
    I speak from the experience of being the kid (age 16) going off on the adventure (mine was to South Africa in 1972). My parents still like to try guilt-tripping me about how much they cried over it, but after I got done being homesick, which took a couple weeks, I made friends I stay in touch with to this day. The trip changed my life for the better, and I think it changed my family for the better, too. I wish the same for you and your daughter.
    (Not that there’s anything that needs changing!!)

  17. Mmm, forgive my double comments – something weird happened when I was trying to upload…..

  18. You sent her off into the world as a strong, loving, capable woman and better than that with a talisman to keep you connected through the distance, time zones and experiences. Amazing what 20 years of parenting, some sticks and a ball of yarn can accomplish.

  19. I emailed a link to your post to my (delightful and thoroughly independent) daughter, just to show her I’m not the only one . . .

  20. Abject apologies for the triple post! The message I got was that the server dropped the connection, so I resent – twice! Guess the error message was a little misleading.
    Knit on!

  21. That awesome! It sounds so exciting. I’m sure she’ll have a wonderful, but very safe and sane time.

  22. Yes, parenting is f****d. If I had known about just all the WORRY, I’d never have done.
    She’ll be fine and have a great time!
    Blessings!

  23. Oh Stephanie, but wait until your babies have babies of their own and all you can do is hug them and send them out into the world. It does get easier, but it’s never easy. Bless you both, I hope the next four months goes well for all of you and that Amanda has an amazing trip

  24. I know it’s hard to see them go. My daughter went off to
    China for 11 months when she was Amanda’s age. The only thing I can say is: thank god for cell phones and e-mail!!

  25. Your post really hit home because I am feeling the same way. I have become used to my 20 year old daughter going to university on the other side of Canada, but my 17 year old son joined the military this summer. He did it for good reasons and I am proud of him, but I cried the first time I saw him in uniform. It is so hard to let them find their own paths!

  26. Go ahead and make me want to cry,why don’t ya!?!?My two are outside playing before dinner-I know where they are-and I’m almost in tears for you and for when mine are ready to go somewhere.I gotta go find a hankie…

  27. Hurrah for all of you! You do realize that part of being a good parent, as you certainly are, is having the courage to grow yourself, as you are doing right now. As Amanda spreads her strong and beautiful wings, you are ungluing yours. I am proud of all of you.

  28. I raised a capable strong minded young lady (who does not knit – my apologies) and she moved to ANOTHER PROVINCE, probably to get away from her mother. I worried when she went off to Costa Rica for 6 weeks to learn Spanish. I’m sure my mother had heart failure when I went off to Africa for 2 years when I was 23. But that’s our job – to raise them and then shoo them out the door so they can embark confidently on the grand adventures of THEIR lifetime. Just like we did!!

  29. Stephanie,
    Last January I put my 20 year old daughter (youngest of my three children) on a plane for Australia. She was supposed to be gone for 5 months – 6 weeks traveling in Australia, New Zealand, and Figi, and 3.5 months at a University near Sydney as an exchange student.
    Unfortunately her father’s cancer didn’t respond to treatment and she was called home the first week of March, three weeks before her Dad died.
    She’s hoping to go back to Australia in a couple years for grad school.
    My 22 year old son spent 6 weeks in Eastern Europe this summer and came home with a job. He’ll be working for a photographer in Bosnia starting in 2 weeks, and plans to be there for at least 4 months – maybe longer.
    My Dad always said “Parenting, done right, is the only job where you work to put yourself out of a job.” It always seems the child is ready to try their wings and fly away long before the parent wants them to. I think enjoying a child’s company and wanting them to stay close by generally means you’ve done a good job at parenting. Congratulations to you, Joe, and Amanda, and you’ve still got Megan and Samantha at home! Make sure Amanda emails lots of pictures!

  30. The first time I realized my four boys were growing up, was when the youngest went to Boy Scouts. I didn’t have a little Cub Scout anymore. And yes, I did cry a little that time. It is hard to give them their wings isn’t it. Parenting is a job that makes itself obsolete. And it’s hard!! Hugs to you Stephanie.

  31. I love Australia! She’s going to have a wonderful time and her Mum just needs to go on a book signing tour down under and pop in for a visit. Can your publicist swing that for you?

  32. My 13 yr old is returning to England this week having spent 7 1/2 weeks in Oz. She’s had the most amazing time: learnt to surf, got mobbed by wallabies, held a baby crocadile, walked in the bush, slept out under the stars & stood 2 meters away from wild red kangaroos!
    She’s also missed us like mad so hopefully she’ll now appreciate what she has at home & won’t take us for granted as much . I’ll miss the peace & quiet we’ve become accustomed to but can’t wait 2 hug her πŸ™‚

  33. Awesome for her!
    Would you like my Mum’s phone number to talk this over and have a cry about it? I moved from Toronto (ish) to BC the day after my 20th birthday (after a year of not living at home) and for the first 6 months every phone conversation with Mum began and ended with “You can come home you know…” (I don’t recommend you do that with Amanda, it’s heart-breaking). Hang in there. Think of all the knitting you can do when you’re up nights worrying.

  34. You are right that it is both weird and wired. I have two boys and insisted for that they couldn’t go to college (university) in California. Parents thought I was nuts – there are good, cheaper universities (although VERY large) in California. But I wanted for them to go to a place that was different from the political, cultural and weather climate that we live in in Northern California. They went to New York and Connecticut. They went off on foreign study to Spain and New Zealand. It was both hard and very easy because we felt that they had the solid grounding to go off and fly. Don’t skype too often and don’t e-mail all the time. Let her be there and change. And cry a few tears.

  35. I totally understand. Last summer my then 19 year old son moved, yes moved, to Japan and hasn’t been home since. He had spent summers there teaching since he was 13 but when he got his Masters Degree last summer he moved there for the foreseeable future. I & his Dad have, of course, been to visit him but only one time for two short weeks. I think that leaving him there after the visit was even worse because I knew what was in store for me at home. An EMPTY house. His 2 older siblings have also flown the coop. To make it worse, he broke his back snowboarding last winter and I couldn’t get to him because he lives in the back of beyond and I don’t speak Japanese to attempt to hurdle the transportation issues. Happily, he made a great recovery because of wonderful friends there who took amazing care of him.
    The point of this dialogue is that you, and I, raised our children to be independent people and as difficult and heart wrenching as it is to let them go, let them go we must. And knit them lots of hats for the cold winters they endure to remind them of how very much we love them and are proud of them!

  36. I know exactly how you feel. When my son was 20, he moved to Japan. Japan for Heaven’s sake! My baby, so far away, where they even speek a different language! O.K., he spoke Japanese and he was going to live with his girlfriend on the 3rd floor of her parents house, but still. At the last minute, he got cold feet and wondered if he was making a huge mistake. I wanted to tell him “Yes, you are, stay here”. But of course I didn’t. I told him that if he didn’t like it, planes fly both ways. But that he didn’t want to look back when he got to be my age and wonder what would have happened if he had gone. I smiled, hugged him and watched him get on the plane. Then I went into the airport restroom and made a spectical of myself by bawling like a baby. He got married to his girlfriend the next year and they lived in Japan for over 8 years. Now they are back in the U.S. but not here in S. California, they are in the Seattle area. At least I can drive there to visit. My daughter, son-in-law and my grand-daughter live 10 minutes away from me, thank goodness. Being a mother is an odd mix of the greatest thing on earth and the pits.

  37. Oh, I feel your pain. I’m sitting here with a daughter that just started high school (HIGH SCHOOL, ALREADY?!?) and is talking about driving (DRIVING??? ACK!) and I’m already crying that I only have 4 years left with her.
    In fact, just typing this makes me want to cry.
    Good for you that you raised such an independent, smart woman who can travel to the ends of the earth with you knowing that she really will be ok. I hope I can do the same…

  38. Prayers and good wishes. Mothers all over the world are aching for you today. You did good.

  39. This reminds me of the scene almost 30 years ago when I said good-bye to my mother as I left for a semester abroad in Spain. I’m sure Amanda will be forever glad she went. And you will be forever glad as well. Just maybe not right now.

  40. It’s hard, isn’t it? You spend every minute of their young lives carefully teaching them to be strong and capable and independent so they can live on their own, and then the little finks go out and do it!
    And you wave good-bye with a smile on your face and your heart breaking. But SO proud of what they are and what they are becoming.
    Beautiful post, Steph.

  41. “We love the chains that bind us” (not sure who said that one).
    “Children are the ransom of your fortune” (that one is about having no money when you have children) written by some Elizabeth guy, I think it was Francis Bacon, but could also be Thomas More or some other guy.
    Australia is pretty big – ’bout the size of the US but most population is on the perimeter – what part(s) is she going to? A little Antipodean experience will go a long way, but I am glad she will be closer to me in NZ – I hope she can be quiet once she has been home a week, you will probably get tired of her spouting on, and on, and on. (Don’t worry about the sheep shearers, be more worried about all that merino).
    I think the order should be 1)family 2)mortgage, 3)career – that feels like a better fit to me.

  42. We taught our children, by example, that it was ok to move two thousand miles across the country from your parents in order to go to school and start a professional career. Darned if our kids didn’t go and do the same thing and now my only grandchild lives in Ohio and I live in Arkansas!
    The other thing no one warns you about when you start having children is that you worry about them even when they are thirty. You never stop being a mom. It is a great and overwhelming and wonderful experience–for your whole life.
    Thanks for sharing Stephanie, you bring joy to a lot of people.

  43. Hey Steph – I live in a little country town in Victoria called Beechworth – famous for the bushranger – Ned Kelly. Google us – a great town. Amanda is more than welcome to come and spend some time here. Food and board paid for. I have 2 boys, 7 and 15 – and boy I agree it is hard with them growing up and wanting independance (the 15 yo I mean).
    By the way I finished my February Lady Sweater last week thanks to you. Spun the wool and knitted it all by my self for me. I always knit for others. I’m a loving it.
    Thanks and she’ll be fine – we’re a great bunch down here.
    JO in OZ

  44. I put my 21 year old son on a plane for New Zealand years ago. They do come home, they have great experiences, they have friends you will only hear of, they make friends for life. Some friends will visit you and stay in your home for months. You will love it, because someone had your child in their home and fed them up.
    She’ll be safe, and she has the sock !!!

  45. When I was 15 and still in high school, my family (immediate and extended) decided it was perfectly reasonable to send me to London for a year to take care of an elderly great aunt with epilepsy.
    They were wrong. It wasn’t a good idea, although I did meet the guy I’d marry 27 years later, and he introduced me to the love of my life. (So some good came out of it, is what I’m saying.) 15 was too young. I went back at age 20 and that was a good age!
    So your approach is much better. Congrats on being a good mum, and bon voyage to your daughter.

  46. She will be fine – because You have done a great job raising her. She will love you all the more for it.

  47. I know exactly how you feel. I put my 21 year old daughter on a plane to Madrid, Spain last week, she will be gone 4 months. We are missing her so much. She has a blog which we are reading with relish. I have talked to her with Skype which helped tremendously. I am proud of her tho to undertake such an adventure. Now I know how my Mom felt when I at 15 years of age went off to Argentina for a summer.

  48. she looks happy.
    my littler one walked into camp today without a hug or a kiss or even a backward glance at me. first time. i stood there sort of stupified and it hit me, she is growing up. dang.

  49. I am so there with you, Steph.
    That sock at the end of the post? really touching. Ur doin it rite.

  50. You know, as much as I love your writing about knitting–and I really, really love it–I love your writing about parenting even more.
    I was lucky enough to tell you this at Sock Summit, where we talked about super high energy kids and their challenges, and you mentioned that yours was soon off to Australia. I’m mentioning it again because really, you do my heart so much good and I really, really, really love it.
    I love it with the mental health professional part of my brain, but I especially love it with the mom part of my brain. I had my kid later in life than you (at 43 I have a nearly 3 year old) and I’m so grateful for those, like you, that have gone before me and can share their experiences with the rest of us in such thoughtful ways.
    Best to her, to you and Joe, and wish me luck when my turn comes. I hope I can convince my guy to take a sock with him when it’s his turn.

  51. Yay for both of you.
    Everyone should live alone as a young adult
    just to have the experience, and live with
    others for the experience, and meet a totally
    different life style, f.t.e.
    I think it’s really the 20th and 21st century
    that say “go be independent.”
    The tribe used to say “stay here and be part of
    the group.” That was so strong that people had
    to invent “fostering out” (everything from being
    a page to being an apprentice) and “marrying out”
    to spread the gene pool.
    Just a few hundred thousand years of group
    living having to adjust to a few hundred
    years of independence.
    Yay!

  52. Also, you aren’t a control freak–you did let her go, right? That’s just parenting.

  53. What an amazing experience for her! Good luck to you while she’s gone.
    Sidenote: is college shorter in Canada, or did Amanda finish amazingly fast? Didn’t she only start 2 years ago?

  54. Oh to be young again.
    You’ll be so glad you let her go. Knit her something for Christmas and the time will just fly by.

  55. My 26-year-old daughter leaves for University of Edinburgh in less than two weeks.
    Your post was SPOT ON. Believe me, I feel your pain.

  56. Oh, it so totally sucks and I’m dreading when it’s my turn to watch them go out into the big wide world and their own lives.
    Watching your baby become an independent adult is the single most hardest thing ever!
    I wish your daughter all the best and a speedy four months for you xx

  57. Ditto to what the other Australian knitters said – we’ll look after her. It’s not so bad here (maybe you could do a trip here while she’s here – we’d love to see you too. Here’s hoping I do a great parenting job too and my daughter grows up just as beautiful and independent.
    I know beer won’t help the desolation, but it might taste good.
    p

  58. When I was 20, I left my mom standing in the airport in Columbus, Ohio and went off to Italy for four months. It was one of the most fantastic experiences of my life. But don’t think for one moment, with all of the excitement and adventure I experienced, I didn’t miss my mom every day…cause I did. And when my dad confided that she often locked herself in the bathroom and cried, I took extra measures to let her know how much she was loved. Cause after all…she’s only loved me part of her life. I’ve loved her all of mine πŸ™‚
    I hope your daughter gives you extra love too!

  59. When I was fifteen (Fifteen! I think now that my parents must have been miserable) I went on a yearlong Rotary student exchange to Nagoya, Japan. I could not come home for Christmas and though we’d planned that my parents would visit me 7 months in, that fell through.
    I remember vividly seeing my father, who never cries, get teary-eyed in LAX and remind me that I didn’t have to go. But we got through it, I made new friends, and I eventually came home to my mom and dad. Traveling solo and living somewhere new is a great experience for a young person, and it makes you appreciate having your family close by that much more. πŸ™‚
    Hugs to you and your daughter.

  60. and not EVERYTHING is poisonous….. apparently the reason our snakes are so poisonous is that the small apparently defenceless looking marsupial mice they like to eat can bite them (the snakes) to death, if they don’t die instantly. I don’t think you should consider this to be a reflection of the dangerous nature of other apparently defenceless looking things here….

  61. Mine went to Germany from St. Louis, Missouri five years ago … and HAD CHILDREN while she was gone. TWO Children, lovely daughters… I’ve only held one of them. So, yes, we teach them to leave, but …

  62. I’m not a parent, but I’m going to marry one, and thus I get some of this. But mostly I get it because I’m someone’s only child, and although I’m now 50 years old, that someone still plotzes whenever I go anyplace, has to know my plans, has to be called when I arrive safely, and likes to know what’s going on. And you know what?? I totally don’t mind. It’s nice to know someone is out there worrying about me even though I’m perfectly safe, and since I am 50 years old I know all too well that that won’t last forever. The other someone has already left us. So if your daughter complains, send her to me. I’ll set her straight.

  63. Wow. Now I feel like a bit of a weenie, because today when I came home from dropping my six year old off at her first day of grade one, I dissolved into helpless tears the moment the door shut behind me. It has honestly never occurred to me that she might want to board a plane to another continent someday!! At least(?) this is the information age and she’s never farther than a text or e-mail away…

  64. Oh Steph, your posts about parenting are so poignant and always make me all teary. Your next book should be a funny (and poignant) parenting book.
    Hugs to you and your girl. I’m sure you’ll both survive. πŸ™‚

  65. As usual, you put into lovely (as well as four letter) words what the rest of us mother-mortals are thinking. I have copied your post to my two grown daughters. Perhaps now they will realize the power of the sock….

  66. Heh, when mine did that, she moved to… Canada. It’s still hard, wherever they go and however long they stay. They’re always and forever yours and every little hurt and scratch and sorrow does feel like your personal responsibility at first.
    Tell you tho, it was just as hard on me – and on my daughter – when I moved to the other side of the world. That’s still hard, years later. I have to leave to go back to Asia in a couple of days and won’t see my daughter for about 7 months. I just try to remember that the tears mean we’re normal – that we are capable of love and bonding.
    Much love to you and good luck wishes to Amanda.

  67. Oh, Stephanie,
    Bless you for not being the kind of mother that duct tapes her kid to the house or to her apron strings!
    Bless you for encouraging her to test her wings while near to home so that she can soar later, and far away.
    Bless you for giving that little nudge that said “You’d be silly not to take advantage of this opportunity, and you’re a smart young woman and should enjoy the heck out of it!”
    Bless you for being the kind of mother I wish I’d had and I wish I was.
    You’re doing just fine.

  68. Is she going to Adelaide? You didn’t say whether or not she was going to Adelaide. Because if she is, I have a friend there, a male friend and…Good Grief, woman! Do you know what you’ve done? Tell her Adelaide is full of…of…of…wild monkeys! Yes, that’s it. WIld monkeys! And she should never, ever go there. (just kidding and no offence to anyone from Adelaide, it’s just that my friend is a bit of a roue)
    The best thing we can do as parents is let our kids just be their own person, whether that means they travel or they stay home. They have to grow up to have their own voice and think their own thoughts and be able to think critically without us telling them what to do. We can advise, we can suggest but in the end they have to decide what is best for them. To be honest I hated being a parent but I love the way my two girls have turned out, strong, intelligent, independent and opinionated.
    You’ve done a good job and I admire you for it.

  69. OMG! I know exactly what you mean! Last year my 17 year old son went to Japan for 3 months. Now just last week, I took him to Seattle for college. He’s my last one….. I agree this whole parenthood thing is f***ed!
    They do come home with great stories though. Hugs to you!!

  70. A few years back, my husband, my three young daughters and I went to live in Shanghai. I felt bad because of the pain we were inflicting to our parents, but at the same time, I felt happiness, relief and joy. We spent 5 amazing years in Asia.
    And I am glad I was able to teach my children that it is OK to leave.
    Think of her, of how excited, happy, scared she must be, it feels so wondeful !

  71. We sent our daughter off to Italy, by herself, when she was 22, to see her boyfriend (now husband), Paolo in Milan. That night we were having dinner with friends, and they asked what Paolo’s parents name was and what was the address. WE DID NOT KNOW!!!! She survived, we survived and we got all the information when she phoned us the next day. Your sweet daughter will have so much fun; a real adventure. Just hope that she manages that LONG plane ride.

  72. I’ll keep an eye out for her! My son lives in Sydney and would probably enjoy a chance to play tour guide for a while but yeah, he’s a boy and I know….fox/henhouse. He’s a nice fox though…..

  73. I got on a plane when I was 18, off to Boston from the West Coast of the US. I remember looking back and seeing my mom waving frantically with a big grin on her face.
    You’ve just made me realize that she probably burst into tears as soon as I was out of sight.

  74. Don’t let her come home without some of the Aussie possum yarn. Absolutely perfect cable definition!!! My friend brought some home but won’t share πŸ™

  75. I spent my live teaching my children to be adults, and be darned it they did not go and do it.
    And not one of mine took a sock with them.
    You have done a great job, and grown a great adult.

  76. I just left my youngest at college 4 hours ago, the last of 4 girls, it hurts…I’ll live, she’ll grow, but, it is the end of this part.I know the next part is ok, but I realize like everyone else, it went quick, too quick. I’m thinking of you!

  77. I feel your pain. We let our 16 year old son go to Japan for 6 weeks and I thought my heart would break. Then he went back at 22 for what was supposed to be one year (turned out to be 2.) It was agony for us, but a life changing experience for him. When we went to visit, he was our guide, planned the whole trip — took us all over Japan. I realized my little boy grew up to be a wonderful man. Still cry when I think about it.

  78. Well, birthday buddy, our DD only made it to the end of the driveway on her way to Australia a few years ago before we were crying. 4 months later, she was back and it was good for all of us to go. All I can say is thank goodness for computers and IMing!

  79. I love all the comments from the Aussie knitters promising to take care of your little girl. Perhaps, to make sure they recognize her, you could have given her a t-shirt that says “Harlot’s daughter.”
    Or perhaps not. The non-knitters might get the wrong idea.
    (You done good, girl. She’ll be fine.)

  80. We just found out two weeks ago that baby #3 will be another girl.
    I read your post.
    I don’t want to talk about it.
    Good luck to mom and her “big girl!”

  81. And here I am bursting out laughing out loud at the end. Which is a pretty good description of how it will be when you see her walking back off that returning plane.
    As a veteran of four recent kid launchings, meantime, I so hear you!

  82. Like you said, there is an invisible bond to your child that lasts a lifetime. You’ll get through this time, but there will be so many others that you’ll get worn out just saying goodbye. Remember you’ve done your best and that she’s starting out to live her own life with your love. I send you my best wishes.

  83. Yes, you are a control freak, but that’s ok, it’s part of the criteria for being a mom as far as I can tell (don’t tell my mom I admitted its ok) Good luck Amanda email your mom alot, take deep breathes Steph, you’ll both be fine!

  84. When my almost-10-year old daughter was 3 or 4, I often said she was way too smart and independent for _my_ own good. You’ve just proven how right I was!

  85. My son took off for Australia from Boston for a semester. My daughter went to a somewhat gritty city in South Africa (now that was scary!)You’ll get used to it. Set up a weekly phone call and trust her. People are generally nice and she probably has more common sense and street smarts than you give her credit for.
    She’ll have a blast and will always love you for not keeping her from going.

  86. You did the right thing. I spent 6 months (at age 21) in Australia and it was the best thing I have ever done (besides fall in love with the man I’m marrying, but heck! he was there for a month of it!). It felt right, down to my bones, and you couldn’t get me to undo it for a mountain of wool (or my fave Aussie bamboo). Plus, the Aussie knitters are fab. They adopted me and I’m sure they’ll love your kid.
    Have fun Amanda! Don’t come back until you’ve spent some time in Melbourne!

  87. I want to send a copy of this off to my mother. And I’d like my 14 yo son to read this. I cried all over the place. That was a wonderful piece of writing. Thank you.

  88. Whenever I went somewhere my mother always said, “Have fun!” in a cheery voice.
    She told me just recently that that was Mother Code for “For the love of god be careful every minute…..”

  89. I think I’m crying a little, too. BUT, I’m not going to listen to you because right now I have a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and a baby. I know the day is coming that I’m not going to want them to go, but right now I have to hang on to the thought that “This isn’t forever. They will leave me SOMEDAY and I’ll be able to drink a cup of tea while it’s still warm.”

  90. Nobody ever told us that having a child was a life sentence!
    Isn’t it amazing that we raise them to think for themselves, be independent and make their own decisions. And then, all of a sudden, we have adult (or semi-adult) children who think for themselves, are independent and make their own decisions.
    And sometimes we just can’t handle it.

  91. Congratulations, being a parent is f****d. You raise them to be strong and independent and what do they do? Live up to your expectations and make you proud even though it hurts and you cry on the inside when they see you and bawl when they are out of sight. At nineteen our daughter left for Iraq, was stationed near Fallujah, drove trucks loaded with fuel and supplies, worked check points in the city of Fallujah, had trucks blown up in front of and behind her. She saw a lot of things that matured her, which she won’t discuss with me, and she has learned alot about herself. Her dad and I lived in fear for the six months she was half a world away. Damn, we’re proud of her though. Your daughter will learn alot about people and herself and come back more than what she was when she left.
    Wanda

  92. I sent my oldest (4 yo) off to nursery school today. The very first time I have entrusted his welfare to a bunch of strangers. I did not cry!! (but I totally see the advantages to homeschooling!)
    Australia for 4 months? Gives me shakes!

  93. I’m 22, and my mom has always told me that a good parent works her/himself out of a job. The fact that your daughter is brave enough to go so far away to another continent on her own and have that adventure means you and Joe did all the right things! I’ll be thinking good thoughts for her and all of you. She’ll come back in one piece and even better than when she left, I am sure of it!

  94. Stephanie, I can do you one better. One of mine got married on the weekend. I spent the next day returning tuxes and hiding in the basement crying. Now we are five, and that seems so many fewer than six.
    They will soar. We will cope. And one day, they will know how this was for their mums. All the best.

  95. My son (junior in college, 20 yrs old, pretty experienced traveller) is about to leave for a term abroad in Prague…on September 11 no less. It’s bad enough that I’ve had to deal with moving a kid from a Boston suburb to Richmond, Virginia (U. of Richmond – great school, but far away), but now I am putting him on plane to Prague.
    I am a neurotic Mom. I fly to Richmond with him, make his bed, put his boxers and sox in the drawers, etc.
    Now, I don’t even know here he’s living {they get there early and figure it out!!! shoot me!), what linens to send, who knows what the accommodations are?!?!
    This really and totally sucks for a Type-A, control-freak mom. And let’s be honest….boys are helpless so there ya go…

  96. I can so relate to this post. My girls just happen to be the same age as yours and I’ve sent not one of them away to school this fall, but two! And one of them has been talking about studying in – dare I say – Australia! Not fair. Getting the tissues……

  97. Ahem… not to worry you… but my mom took me to the Berlin airport in 1994 to see me off to America. I’m still here, married to an American…
    (Of course, I returned home to finish school etc., but spending time abroad had made me restless. And so I landed here again.)
    I hope your girl is going to have the time of her life in Aussieland! As remarkable and wonderful as she’s now, she’ll be even more remarkable and wonderful after she’s spent time abroad. But you know that already, which is why you let her go. Hugs to both of you!

  98. You’ve put in words exactly what i was trying to tell my 14 year old this morning – thank you!

  99. Stephanie, I sent my twenty year old son to Brazil for two years. One of the most profound acts of courage I have ever seen was my son turning his back on his family and walking through security to board a plane to a foreign country where he knew no one and could not speak the language. He did it with faith and courage and I very nearly died. To this day I cannot think of it without tears in my eyes. I nearly collapsed that day in the airport when he could no longer see us, I fell apart. It is horrible, I do understand. And yes parenting it totally f’d up.

  100. Being a mom who has done exactly that, you brought tears to my eyes. ‘Tis hard, isn’t it?

  101. Awww…poor you! I was worried/anxious when my eight-year-old went to summer camp (three hours away by CAR) this summer, and it was even a week when he would have been with his dad anyway, so it’s not like I could really say I *missed* him. It sucks. Just hope she doesn’t meet and marry an Aussie. πŸ™‚

  102. I was reading all these wonderful posts, and feeling sad all over again that my own beautiful daughter went and grew up, and suddenly remembered that when I was 16 I left my family – who were stationed in Paris – to go to college in New York; I didn’t see them until the end of my freshman year. Isn’t that strange? I had completely forgotten until just now that once upon a time I was the one who danced onto the airplane with a grin and left my parents in the airport.

  103. Ahhhh, Steph, ya done good. She is all that you wanted her to be and she has the sock talisman to guide her to other knitters.
    We won’t tell her you cried…tell her I cried for you.
    Hugs

  104. Will keep an eye out for her in the Blue Mountains. She should come here – it’s really beautiful and she’s always welcome at our house.

  105. Go Amanda, go! I was 20 when I left Germany for the States for 10 months. There were no cell phones, and other phones were too expensive. My mother had to wait for a postcard to hear from me! (I still don’t know how she lived through that…).
    You worked three jobs?? You’re awesome, and you deserve a great trip. We’ll take care of your mom, OK? Don’t worry about her….she’ll be fine.

  106. Maybe she’ll write a blog about her adventures…and knitting…it could happen…

  107. If Amanda wants to swing down to Victoria to the seaside, we have a great town here called Inverloch. We’ll take good care of her!

  108. I’m crying. Not profusely sobbing and slobbering, just a tear or two leaking out. Coz mine (29 almost) lives in Hawaii with a great husband and an amazing son (almost 2) and even tho I’m so proud of the life she’s creating…parenting is truly f***ked! Thanks for putting it so much more elegantly than I ever could. And for doing your duty (to get them fledged when ready) so well. Knitters everywhere are proud – of you both!

  109. Never underestimate the power of the sock.
    Amanda will be fine, and for those times when she isn’t, all those skills will be there for her.

  110. That just brought tears to my eyes, right at the end, with the sock. My mom’s in the same boat – she always said to travel while you’re young, so now that I’ve graduated from college I’m living in Japan for at least three years, then maybe Europe if I can find a school for a PhD. She said she always thought I’d go as far as California, maybe.
    She’ll be fine, it’s just a few months, and Australia, wow! How can she not jump at the chance to go to Australia?

  111. My niece just got back from a summer in Australia. She had a blast. She is back in California at law school and my sister in Florida misses her a bunch.
    I think you need to go on a book tour in Australia;-)

  112. It totally gets easier with each one. Totally. I’ve had four. With each successive fledge you find it less and less discomforting until at last it’s just the two of you alone in your happy little nest, sipping coffee in peace and tranquility, running around naked like teenagers and celebrating the joyful liberation of your babies.
    Oh. And did I mention I am a complete liar?

  113. Been there, done that! I also raised two very independent daughters…….one move to NYC and one to Kansas City, and I miss them immensely. I knew I did a good job, because they are now more appreciative of my parenting and the experiences we provided for them. You just have a few years to go to get there. Good luck to your Amanda (I have an Amanda, too) and just think how that hug will feel when she comes home!

  114. Sounds like it’s beer o’clock.
    Or maybe it’s AFTER beer o’clock?
    You’ll imagine a thousand things that could go wrong, but chances are that she’ll have a fabulous time and anything that goes wrong will be VERY minor, like she’ll lose a sock, but find some great sock yarn.

  115. I totally GET this post. My boy is leaving on Friday for Atlanta — okay, so not as far as Australia and only for four DAYS (not four months), but I feel EXACTLY the same.
    Keep your eyes open, keep your wallet safe, don’t talk to strangers, don’t leave money hanging from your pockets, don’t walk alone on city streets, don’t walk on city streets with people you don’t know…….did I cover it all? I don’t know.
    Happy travels to your child and mine! May they both have just the best time ever, but not TOO good of a time!
    I know you get that.

  116. Fantastic! Good for you both. Odds are she’ll be fine and have the time of her life. I have teenagers and a twenty-one year old. I feel for you. That had to be a tough moment at the airport. She’s got a sock. She’ll be fine.

  117. The sock will help her overcome a myriad of challenges.
    It will:
    1. identify her to friendly people with yarn as a fellow traveler
    2. help her in making friends with the friendly yarn possessing people
    3. make her look industrious & creative
    4. keep her from being bored
    5. keep her foot warm

  118. I totally get it– so bittersweet. My son moved to Netherlands 10 months ago, for an indefinite period, maybe for keeps. I was so proud that he was able to make his dream happen, and so shattered that he was soooo far away. Still makes my heart thrill and ache, simultaneously. Sigh. Yeah, that’s parenting.

  119. Brilliant! Quite the adventure for both of you…and you’re both more than capable of rising to the occasion. You do know that she’s totally going to rock Australia, right?

  120. I cried, too, when I left for 4 months in Rome at the ripe old age of 19. All those lessons my parents taught me, all those things they thought I ignored? Boy, did I use them then. hang in there.

  121. I think the best part of this entry was you saying, “buy her a pint(one)…” Because that was such a mom thing to say.
    I hope she has a great time in Australia, and I hope you don’t get an ulcer while she’s there.

  122. As a 20 year old young lady with loving parents, let me tell you that it is just as hard to leave parents as it is for parents to let their children leave. I went to England in May (I wasn’t even 20 yet) and I missed my parents every day I was there. It was hard going out into the world like that. Just like Nature wires parents to want to keep their children close and protect them, it wires kids to want to be safe and protected and loved by their parents.
    I’m sure you know all of this anyways, having been a 20 year old at one point, but I figured it might be comforting to know that she’s probably going to miss you just as much as you’re going to miss her. πŸ™‚

  123. I know how you feel. I have two children. My oldest graduated from college in May and started his life separate from me. We moved my youngest to his college dorm in another city last week. I don’t know if I taught them everything I should have. My house is clean. There is no laundry and I am so sad.

  124. I so needed this my daughter left the house for college and I am having a rough time of it. you signed my book in KC last year on the page about teenagers. I know it is good that she is not calling me but gosh I miss her!!!

  125. Crap – I took my daughter to college a week ago and have held it together just fine until I read this.
    Crap – now I am sobbing like a baby.
    Don’t tell.

  126. I’m crying with you, but you are doing the right thing for all the reasons you stated! She will be fine and will come home a stronger, more independent and worldly young woman. You have prepared her for this journey. And just think how joyous your reunion will be in 4 months. Be strong! And keep us posted on what she is doing.

  127. I totally get it. When my son was 17, a senior in high school, he decided, with our permission, to apply to be a Rotary exchange student. I thought I had at least 6 months to get used to the prospect of him leaving, but he was offered the opportunity to go to Australia – AND he was leaving in just 6 weeks – right after Christmas! Those weeks were a blur, they passed so quickly with so much to do….. We took him to NYC to board his plane and my heart broke. So I understand.
    But he had the most awesome time, experienced so many things he never would have here, made lifetime friends and grew up into an even more amazing person. I realize he was gone longer than Amanda will be, but the boy we put on that plane was not the man who got off after a year. It really was a lifetime opportunity and it rocked! Even tho I sat home for a year worrying – for naught, I should add.
    Amanda will do fine – you’ve raised her to be an outstandingly young, beautiful woman – you’ve done your job and done it well. Now go pat yourself on the back and have a beer or 2 or however many you want, you and Joe have really earned it. Well done!

  128. Hey, I’m near Geelong in Victoria, and I’d be more than happy to show Amanda around if she’s looking for a guide! Australia is a beautiful place and she’s going to have a wonderful time. If she can get to Canberra during September, the Floriade festival is on – it’s supposed to be spectacular (I’m going for the first time this year and can’t wait!)
    And you can relax about all the poisonous things – they are here, but we don’t see them nearly as often as people seem to think! Mostly it’s just a lovely place with very friendly people. πŸ™‚

  129. Wow! That’s amazing. My dad always said that you raise your kids with the goal of them leaving the house. Of course, I moved 3000 miles away from him so I suspect that sometimes he hadn’t done such a good job of fostering my independence, LOL!
    You’ll both do just fine, I’m sure of it. Just think, you’ve created something out of nearly nothing (a person) and you’ve raised her to adulthood. That’s an amazing acomplishment!

  130. Tell her there’s a warm welcome in Orange, NSW only there won’t be any oranges (unless they’ve come up from Narromine)but the cherries will be there for itinerant young pickers wanting to earn a brass razoo.
    These are the aspects of parenting that I hate as well. And once they fly the nest there are all too many of these aspects.

  131. Gosh…this puts what I’ll go through next year in perspective. My daughter will be going to college six hours away from me…in the same state to boot. Your’s isn’t even going to be on the same continent!
    I’ll be praying for all of you…

  132. Roots and wings – we try to give them both – and they both create a kind of pain, don’t they?

  133. What a brave mother you are! Think Skype. We use it to keep in touch with the grandchildren in California. It’s not perfect, no hugs and kisses. But we can at least SEE them.
    Hang in there and know that this Christmas season is going to be full of extra special anticipation.

  134. ((((((((((( Steph )))))))))))) big hugs for you. I know its hard, but Amanda going away means YOU have done a GOOD job! Congrats, Mom…… empty nesting isn’t easy.

  135. (unlurking for a moment) You nailed it! I read bits of this to my kids and the cuddly one came over and gave me a huge hug — I’m passing it along to you!

  136. Australia is wonderful. She will be safe and among some really fun, kind, weird, interesting people. My fabulous brother in law is from Brisbane and I had the chance to go a few years ago. Yes–people told me I was crazy to go to Australia for a week but it was either go for a week or not go at all. If she needs anything in Brisbane, drop an email and my wonderful friends will come get her and giver her (one)pint, a good meal and a warm bed if she needs it.
    P.S. I hope you told her to stretch on the plane. If she doesn’t, she’s going to get a helluva charlie horse.

  137. My sister in law (18) has been in Australia for 6 months now. No snake bites, nothing poisonous at all! I hope your daughter has as good a time as she has.

  138. The last line made me laugh. You sure have brought that girl up right.
    And the contradictions of parenting smart independent girls are myriad. Though might started with the independent thing pretty early so she’s certainly gone to England without me already. (More than once, and she’s only 12.)
    But, yeah. You want them to go but not really. Totally get that.

  139. I share your pain. My now 27-year old son became a traveler at 21. He spent his 22nd birthday in New Zealand and has has spent every birthday and Christmas away since then. For the past 22 months he’s been working on an oil rig in Australia.
    Please share my joy…6 more sleeps and HE’LL BE HOME!

  140. HI STEPH – BACK FROM SOCK SUMMIT – TIM TAM SUMMITEER HERE!!
    GET HER TO EMAIL US AND WE WILL SO TOTALLY LOOK AFTER HER IF SHE IS DOWN SOUTH IN VICTORIA – YES I’M SHOUTING SO YOU HEAR ME! AT THE VERY LEAST SHE CAN COME USE OUR SKYPE! LOL
    I’m putting my 17 year old on a plane end of Nov for 6 weeks in France – feeling your pain! We also have a 23 year old English guy staying with us and are showing him the sights as well for the next 5 months. My sister lives in Canada (after doing this travelling caper and running off with a Canadian) and I know the pain of distance, Skype is wonderful! Lisa

  141. Oh Steph, this is just such a wonderful experience for her. I lived in Australia for 4 years and they are the most wonderful people. She will be fine. It’s always hard when one of them leaves home. When we took my youngest off to college, I, too, wanted to cry my eyes out. But when I saw how happy he was, I knew I couldn’t be that selfish. It’s all part of life and do cherish the time you have with the others because they will be gone before you know it.

  142. Oh my gosh, you have my sympathy and understanding.
    I only want my son to leave the house because he’s not going anywhere. It’s SAFE for me to say it because I’M the one saying it. His actually leaving home would mean that I’m FIRED from my mommy job, that he will make choices on his own when (I believe) I am the best, no, the ONLY judge of what he should or shouldn’t be doing.
    Get a good calling plan, Skype, webcam, send lots of emails and ask, um, beg her to call you at the same time every day or night.
    Then have some wine while you adjust to letting go.

  143. I understand completely. My two 20-somethings BOTH left in March for New Zealand and one of them is still currently in Australia. You’re lucky that your daughter has family to stay with (and watch over her). She will be fine. My girls got work visas, stayed in hostels, slept in tents, picked kiwi, had loads of fun and they both want to head back to New Zealand. My only request from them was to specifically stop into a yarn shop and ask for some locally grown/spun sock yarn. Haven’t received that yet but there is still hope. (I did hear about some creepy crawlies in Australia)

  144. A few years ago, when I was 19, I left my California home to study abroad for a year in London. I went up the escalator at the airport, waving goodbye to my ENTIRE (grandparents included) crying family, sobbing uncontrollably, and basically terrified out of my mind. I can’t imagine what was going through my mom’s head at that moment. But I do know that I was (and am) very grateful that not one person told me that I should maybe think twice about going ’cause really I’m pretty much a homebody – they did what you did, helping me get a visa, dealing with financial aid paperwork, and poring over London tourbooks. And now, 6 years later, it’s still the hardest and most amazing and best thing I’ve ever done. If she doesn’t now, someday Amanda will really appreciate how you handled her leaving.

  145. Letting go is hard at any age.My oldest left home at 17 to live in Austin, Texas. Broke my heart, it was 3years till I saw her again.We are in constant contact, she is 31 now, my youngest flew to Seattle by herself at age 13. I held my heart in my hand for a long time. Oh yes my oldest says to tell your daughter to., every morning. shake out her shoes

  146. *giant MOM hug*
    I sent mine off at age 20 to Paris. She spoke English and German. On a plane across the pond alone.
    She had adventures, some she told me about, some she didn’t. She came back whole and beautiful (new French haircut) and more mature.
    At 36 she is now a mom and I hope she is brave enough to let her child go somewhere “foreign” when he’s 20.
    You’re a good Mom. A heart isn’t any good unless it’s got a lot of scars and missing pieces. πŸ™‚

  147. Thanks a bunch.
    Older daughter just went back to college this past Friday, and I was *fine* today. Until I opened this and read it and now I’m blinking really hard and sniffing and getting my face wet.
    And now I need a hug.
    (Oh, right, this was about you. Sorry about that.)

  148. It gets easier as time passes; my first eighteen year old went to Ireland for a year; my second also went two years later for a year. Of course it took almost four months to get used to not having either of them here. They did come back and appreciated home more and thought I was much smarter when they came back than when they left. There is an upside!

  149. We’re lovely people (mostly – it takes too much effort to be anything else). Love the idea of putting her in a “Harlot’s Daughter” shirt. Of COURSE noone will get the wrong idea. Whereabouts is she going?

  150. Could be worse, my cousins sent their son off to Australia at 20 to study. He was studying flying airplanes and the cousins live in Denmark. He came back ok and is freaking them out by flying airplanes close to home.
    I’m sure she’s ok – you did make sure she had enough yarn for the trip? Just because it’s Australia doesn’t mean they’ll have enough yarn :-).

  151. Tomorrow I am heading to the Prairies to vistit my 19 year old son. He’s been away since May 27th @ 8:20…so we are getting on a plane to find him and then we are going to leave him behind in less than a week and we won’t see him again until December.
    You’re right Parenting sucks, you give your kids wings and encourage them to do great things and they leave you behind.
    You miss them like crazy….and love them and they know it!

  152. Oh, man, this post did make me cry. I wish I’d had a mom like you, or had been a mom like you. There’s not an effing thing wrong with your wiring – you are completely to code, in my book.

  153. Wow, Steph…I’m all chocked up and I have only watched Amanda grow up through the lens of the blog. I can’t even imagine the courage, hope and faith it is taking both of you to make this bold step. My boy is 10 and just went to summer camp for the first time for a whole week and I cried. Maybe when it’s time for him to sail out into the wider world, I’ll be wiser and more prepared. Stephanie, you inspire me to be a better knitter and a better parent. And thanks to Amanda for raising such a fabulous mom. xo

  154. I had much the same feeling sending my eldest off to college. She graduated on a Tuesday, and started school the next week for the summer term at her university.
    I remember all that senior year, but especially at graduation as we waited for the 600 graduates to enter the stadium reminding myself, “She is going away for the next 4 years, and then she will go out into the world. This is what you raised her to do. This is a mark of her succeeding; she’s doing so well. This is what you wanted. This is why you parented her the way you did. This is good. This is right,” over and over again!
    And then I ran that mom’s projector through my mind’s eye, seeing her as she set off for her first day of kindergarten, the school plays, orchestra, honors, friends made, etc. Then back to worrying and my mantra: This is good. This is what you raised her to do. We are successful!

  155. Ay! That is a tough one. And here I was, in the throes of the “do I let him walk to school by himself” stage, not even realizing there was such a thing as a “walk” to Australia by oneself stage… So now I’m counting my blessings… for the time being, anyway.
    Hope she has a wonderful – and very, very safe and suncreened – trip! And that she emails home often to let you know she’s OK!

  156. Yes, yes, and yes. Because I have a 26 yr old daughter who is single and just told me tonight she is pregnant,on purpose, and she couldn’t be happier- and I am alternating between joy and terror and have no idea what happens next. Which is really par for the course, I guess. Prayers to the universe for a safe adventure for your daughter.

  157. Ok, I thought dropping my Amanda (18 yrs) off at a dormitory to live with 350 other people (of both sexes) was scary….but dude, you win! I will see mine after only 4 weeks when she returns to attend homecoming and spend all of her “at home” time away with her friends. I didn’t really expect the lack of contact we’re experiencing. (Where are all the daily texts? the phone calls? the occasional emails???) Like you, I brought this on myself as I suspect she’s just out there getting a life like we always hope they will, but still. I’m going to focus some of my parental energies on your Amanda, who is–without a doubt–a heckuva lot further away.

  158. deep breaths. we raise them for this and then when we do it we are lost………..as long as she has that sock she will be among friends. rest easy. sleep well. you done good.

  159. Good luck Amanda (and mum).
    My brother went to Australia on just this sort of trip a couple of years ago and had a really good time and came back healthy and happy. Yesterday I got to watch my mum do everything you just described as he headed out again (ironically this time to Toronto – he doesn’t have a job yet – he just wanted to go).

  160. phew – that is far but, with internet and skype and facebook you’ll be able to chat lots. My baby is only 17 and this summer was in Belgium, France and even a week in Russia where the food nearly killed him, plus he was there the hurtle around on a very expensive racing bicycle for 135 km on Moscow roads dressed in not much more than underwear alongside about 150 other teenagers from all over the world, all in pursuit of a rainbow striped jersey for which some of the same said teens would gladly ride over their own dear grannies to attain!! And this is what he wants to do for a living! Anyway I agree Australia is far and parenthood is a long series of heart rending moments – torn between pure pride at what you made all by yourself, using only things you had laying about the house, and pure frutration over the fact that these creatures seem to be able to drive you insane without even breaking a sweat!!
    Good luck Amanda, have a ball, call or email home often – you’ll be a mom someday too and then you’ll know why.

  161. Your post made me cry. I wish I’d had a mom like you (and a trip to Australia at 20!). You are feeling and doing just what you should. Amanda is a lucky woman.

  162. Yep, that’s the bitch about parenting, that whole “love ’em and leave ’em” thing. The first time my baby boy left for real and went all the way to Colorado on his motorcycle and lived with his girlfriend, I manifested the empty nest thing by getting into the absolutely least appropriate relationship of my life! Good thing you’ve still got 2 at home – and Joe to keep you from going off the deep end like I did.
    Um, you did prep her by recommending that she read lots of Terry Pratchett, right?

  163. Steph she’ll have a ball! We’re layback, chilled, friendly folk. But, you need to learn the lingo. The phrase “one pint” will not be understood down here (a very confusing concept). Beer purchase is limited to the size of your hands and how many glasses you can cling to. We’ll keep her safe!

  164. Wow, this is coincidental. My 20 year old daughter left today too; granted not as far, or for as long, but still………..
    She’s gone to London (Ontario) with her boyfriend, his mom and his sister, to bring him to start college. She’ll only be gone for 10 days. Your post today had me alternately nodding and getting teary-eyed! You took the words right out of my mouth. I feel like a part of me is missing. Amanda will be fine; you taught her well. Darn kids insist on growing up!

  165. Being a parent totally sucks!!! Also the mom of three indepndent young women that I am very proud of. You raise them to be independent, strong women and then its like your pissed off at them cause they are. It eally is a lose lose. Be proud mom hang in there.

  166. It’s the roots and wings thing. It’s never easy but I’m sure you given her strong roots and wings. She’ll be fine.

  167. Yup, I get it. My lovely 20 year old daughter is out in the driveway painting a shelf at the moment, but when she was 17, I dropped her off 2,000 miles away (what, 3,000 km), and then when she was 19, I put her on a plane to Rome, Italy–a very long way from California. I read a long time ago that when you have children, a piece of your heart is now walking around outside of you, forever.
    When she’s in Chicago, I worry about her walking around the marginal neighborhood she lives in late at night alone. When she’s here, I worry about her driving the California freeways. Like your Amanda, she is a great great person who has never given me any reason to worry about her choices. But the world is full of lunatics. Especially when you’re a lovely young woman facing it alone!
    That’s the deal. You love people, they leave, one way or the other. Or in the end, you have to leave them. It could make an existentialist out of anyone!

  168. I am really feeling your pain, but there is nothing we can do. My son has been planet hooping since he was 16th and I never cease to miss him. Now he has settled down 2 hours flying from where we live and we do not see him for long spells of time. Every morning when I wake up I tell myself “I gave him wings and taught him to fly, I should not complain now that he is doing just that” . He is 26 with a wonderful career , I am very, very proud of him, he is my only child and I am happy for him. But many nights I cry myself to sleep…. Do not worry, the sock will keep her safe and it will be a life change experience.

  169. Oh, wow. My only child, a daughter, will be going off to college in about a year and I’m already feeling a bit panicky.
    Amanda is going to be just fine in Australia, because her wonderful parents raised her to be that way. Incidentally, my parents went to Sydney a few years ago for the Olympics, which was worrisome for me, back at home! They had a wonderful time. My mom said every Aussie she met, without exception, was very nice and very friendly. I imagine the knitters are even more so!

  170. In the words of Peanuts….”WAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!”
    A new Harlot record has been achieved – me, the husband and the 18 year old daughter all cried in unison. Because I read the blog out loud.

  171. Great big hugs, Stephanie. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to watch her go half a world away, but you’ve prepared her well. And she has a sock! A lifetime of Harloty wisdom and a sock? She’ll conquer the world.
    Happy travels, Amanda! I hope you have the time of your life. If you meet the kinds of Australians I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, you’ll be in the best hands a person could want, especially a worrying Mum. (Right now, we’re all worrying Mums!)

  172. All I can say is you have company! My youngest left Wisconsin 12 days ago for Cambodia and then continuing on to Vietnam in about a week for a year teaching English as a foreign language. My oldest leaves in two days for a moutaineering course in India and won’t be back until the holidays. I feel the same way you do…..but what stories they will have to come back to tell!!!

  173. One word — SKYPE! It’s a free program you can download and make computer-to-computer phone calls with live video for free. I discovered it last year when my then-19-year-old daughter spent 4 months in London. It really helps to be able to SEE the kid!

  174. Upon reading this particular post, a very sudden urge to homeschool my Neatnik (now 6) through the end of graduate school flared up in my soul.

  175. Stephanie,
    I so feel and understand where you are coming from. I’ve raised a strong, independent, take on the world woman, who is now 24 and serving in the Peace Corp. I miss her so much, and worry about her, and think, why didn’t she stay right here? but reality is, though we miss them, wish they were here, worry about them, and everything else, we also know that we are incredibly proud of them. (but dang, i cry when I miss her!!!!!! ) : ) hang in there, Christmas will be here soon, and we will both get to see our daughters!!!!!!

  176. Yep. Done that. Odd thing is, an airplane ride away is far, no matter how many kilometers it really is. Seattle, Vermont, Denmark, Brazil–it’s all the same distance, as long as you have to go by plane (from Fairbanks, that’s nearly everywhere). I even forgot to tell the first one she could come back–but after four years away with college vacations for visits, she did. And I don’t see her that much more often than I did when she was away! Which is sad for me, because I still miss her.

  177. Amanda will be fine because you raised her that way. And, she will have a wonderful time, and lots of memories to share with you. And, you will miss her every single day. And, both of you will survive. Trust me, been there, done that.
    Congratulations on raising such a wonderful, brave, beautiful daughter!

  178. I’ll look out for her in Oz. If she is stuck, she is welcome to stay with me in Sydney.

  179. I took my baby girl to New York City for college (from California) at the tender age of 17, and driving away from that dorm at NYU was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It wasn’t just college, it was right smack in the middle of the Big City. I was terrified! Five years later, she’s spent a semester abroad in Prague her junior year, graduated with honors, and found a career and a new, grown-up life in Washington DC with one of her best friends from college. It hurts to only see her twice a year, but she’s an amazing young woman and I’m extremely proud of how brave and independent she is.
    Yes, parenting is f****ed.

  180. Your writing is absolutely beautiful. I agree with another commenter that your next book should be one on parenting with a bit of knitting thrown in. There are a lot of us out here who have at times thought we were the only ones going through difficult times with our kids. Your stories show us that we are all in the same boat. We just happen to have someone different setting the course. She’ll be back before you can get your Christmas knitting done and what a great Christmas present that will be.
    Thank you for sharing. I need to go wipe my eyes now.

  181. Don’t know if it will make you feel any better, but I’m 39, have lived very far away from my mother for a loooooong time. I’m sure she still cried in the car after they dropped me off at the airport a couple of years ago when I went overseas to do research. And she would very much like me to move closer. But, being a great mom, she just continues to encourage me. I really love her for that.

  182. At 20 I upped and left the UK to go for Oregon for a year. One year after that I moved to New York and have been here for 6 years now. It’s kind of strange to see the journey from the parent’s side.

  183. I know EXACTLY how you feel. Okay…Georgia might possibly closer to Australia than Toronto, and 4 months is a bit longer than one month—but I did sent my 20yo daughter to Australia alone–same sort of thing—what was I THINKING?! But, you’ll be pleased to know that my daugher made the trip, not once, but three times, and survived, and was a better person because of it, too. (Plus she brought home some really cool treats that you can’t get here, and though she’s not a knitting and doesn’t get it, and has no clue about yarn, she brought me some yarn from there!
    Amanda will be fine, I’m sure. You may even survive as well. Be encouraged. Parenting really is one of the most backwards propositions ever…but you might very well survive!

  184. Can it be that I am the only person who was excited when my sons went out on their own?? I wanted so much to raise them to be able to do just that, and when they did we raised a celebratory beer together.
    So no tears, not even after the moving was done. But the phone calls and the emails continue, and the worrying when things get “too quiet”. A mom’s sixth sense about what might be going awry is always there. Lynne said it for me: “you worry about them even when they are thirty. You never stop being a mom. It is a great and overwhelming and wonderful experience–for your whole life.”
    Having to stop being a mom would bring the tears.

  185. she will love it. My oldest (33) will be back from the Peace Corps (Macedonia) in December and she’s been gone for TWO YEARS. And, yes, I have survived it.

  186. You are perfectly normal in your reaction (my mother still hasnt forgiven me for moving to sydney 18 years ago). Oh well, if she is lonely or needing company and in sydney tell her to go to the nearest knitting store and telling one of the staff who she is (aka the harlots daughter) and she will be buried in hugs and chocolate.. πŸ™‚

  187. Hi Steph,
    Australia is actually nice (do NOT youtube the “strange weird little guys song – come to Australia (you might accidentlly get killed).
    Also I know how you feel, since my 20 something daughter is at present in Cambridge England and I am still in Australia. It really really sucks to have her so far away (an on her own).
    gem

  188. OH Stephanie! I agree it is the best time for her to do this (and You should be OH SO PROUD that she earned the $$ to do this!) but I cannot even imagine how you must feel. Mine are only 13 and 11… and I think I will be doing the same thing in about 7 years….

  189. Amanda will be wonderful on her own in Australia. Of course, every knitter on the continent will be on the look out for her now.
    Funny thing is….I was totally cool with #2 son going off to college half-way across the country until the DAY AFTER we left him at school. I cried almost the entire width of Wyoming!

  190. A friend once told me that having children is like having pieces of your heart out walking around outside of your body ~ so true! I just took my only daughter to college, and had a similar list of warnings going through my head as we drove away, and she is only 2 1/2 hours away!

  191. I think that’s the hardest part about being a parent, not that I’d know. But from the other side of the line, I think that sometimes, despite the words to the contrary, when it’s really quiet and we’re all alone and far from home– we miss you too.

  192. I am 32 years old. Today I told my mom that I’ve been invited to teach for two weeks in India – a once in a lifetime experience. Her immediate, gut reaction was “But…why do you have to do that so far away?” I said “Because they asked.” “Oh.”
    She’s already gearing up to worry the entire time I’m gone, and I don;t even have the ticket yet. I don;t think it ever goes away.

  193. Oh I forgot to add, I will keep an eye out for her in sydney πŸ™‚ Does she realize that total strangers may be hugging her at random and offering her beer/chocolate/yarn?

  194. Yeah, Stef, but at least you know it’s only 4 months. When it happened to me it was to Edmonton to have my grandbabies 2000 miles away. It took 3 years, 3 YEARS, but they are back home again.
    Oh, and just wait. That worried, harried, parenting thing? It starts all over again with those grandbabies. 😐

  195. Finishing school? Wow! She’ll blow their socks over with her practiced curstey-ing ; ) Just trying to lighten your mood. Hope she has a super-duper time!

  196. Oh my, I so TOTALLY understand. My dear, dear 26 year old daughter has been living & working in Rwanda, Africa, for two years with an NGO on the AIDS epidemic. I am simultaneously button-busting proud of her while also feeling heart-stoppingly paralyzed with fear for her safety. It’s so, so, so hard to let go. Clearly, I overdid the Be Your Own Person, Travel The World, Embrace Every Possible Adventure thing. What was I thinking???

  197. Well…I cried, too. I’m going to print your blog and give it to my 22-yr-old daughter so she hears what I think…only it came from you, Stephanie. Now I’m wondering if my 80-yr-old mother still feels this way about my sisters and me. I’ll just have to ask.

  198. surf, sun, sand, men! fresh air, beautiful lanscapes, shops, restaurants, more men! etc, etc, and your daughter is 20 – i can totally understand why she is coming to Australia – and we may not give her back πŸ˜‰

  199. Sock would be a dead give away! Seriously, you got this kids leaving thing so right. My only went to boarding school last year, OK not Australia, but it sure felt like it and we’re about to start the second year. The first six weeks were life having a awful sore throat that ached non stop. Even our cats worked overtime trying to help me feel better!It’s so so so hard to say goodbye, even though you know it’s the right thing. Maybe you could both work on a joint knitting project together and assemble it when Amanda comes home, better yet, you could design a Mother-Daughter Sweater and have Tina invent a special colorway and donate a percent of the yarn sales to Doctors without Borders! All that planning will make the time go fast and after the SS should be not a problem. Thinking of you.
    Eve from Carlisle

  200. Oh, Steph. I know you know it, but you’re doing a good, brave thing, and your daughter will be better for it. And here’s how I know: my mom let me go to Paris by myself when I was 12, and Germany by myself–for a whole year!–when I was 16. And I went on to become earn degrees in comparative literature and government and became a diplomat for the U.S. (before Bush, thank God!). I am grateful every day that my mom had the strength to let me go–and I will repeat that to myself over and over when I send my 12 year old to Europe by himself next year.

  201. My 20 year old daughter is currently in Chile for 4 months. You really got me with this one, Ms. Pearl-McPhee.

  202. Been there – did the tears and we don’t realise what is in store for us as parents, because what they tell us when they leave is not exactly what happens and we don’t realize it as we prepare them for their great adventure(s).
    A wonderful book is called the Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews. Buy it ….buy a bottle(s) of very good wine…cry your eyes out. Take as much time as you need!
    I gave this book to my other son who provided me with the wonderful grandkids (something to look forward to and make it all worthwhile) cause in my heart of hearts I want him to suffer as well! Can’t wait until the one who moved away has kids and give him a copy!
    Take Care
    Donna

  203. Oh Steph . . . You have me. My 15yo has traveled but always with friends or relatives. The longest was for a 6 wk. trip with her grandparents to BC and Alaska. She came back missing us as much as we missed her and she called often. All we can do is hope that everything they need to know sinks in and be willing to let them go when it’s time for them really to “fly”. I am so thankful that my girl has a good head on her shoulders. I know Amanda does! She has you, wonderful lady, for a mom. You did good. I’m not sure that I could keep from bawling in that situation! Good luck and she’ll be back soon!

  204. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
    Mark Twain
    I only hope that I’m as strong as you in 16 years, when my babe is 20 and off to see the world.

  205. I know – it is hard – especially the first time. But at least you know she’ll be back in just 4 months. I wish I knew my “child” would be back so soon.

  206. I love your story and I could relate fully with your feelings. DD1 went into the Peace Corps and was in Uzbekistan for almost 2 years. They were evacuated, but all was ok. She said it was hard but really worth it. She really liked Uzbekistan. DD2 went to Central America for a semester… and riots. Next it was Bosnia where it was peaceful. Then there was the summer she lived in Mexico, and bused and hiked across the border daily for her job in the US. She also arranged an internship in Nigeria where things didn’t work out. She (and we) had a very long weekend until she was back in North America. It really is worth it. All we can do is love them the best we can and hope all our guidance was the right sort and pray the angels will always watch over them. You’ve done the right thing.

  207. Good on her! And hugs to you for being a brave mom. Having had been on the backside of a mother who didn’t want me out of her sight (even when I was over 30), I can tell you that you did the right thing. You daughter will have a great time, and you’ll get to “re”acquaint yourself with her when she gets back.

  208. Steph you are the best mom in the whole world. Your girls are SO lucky. I’m a reasonably intelligent, capable 40 year old and my mother still gets freaky when I travel from Tulsa to Portland to visit my sister. I know it sucks but good on you, not for LETTING her go (because really she’s 20, how ya gonna keep her?) but for ENCOURAGING her to go and HELPING her make it happen.
    You SO rock.

  209. I’m with ya, sister. My eldest just moved to California to go to graduate school, and I was thinking all those things. Be brave!

  210. 30 years ago, when I was packing my bags to move to Nome, Alaska from upstate NY, my Grandmother asked my Dad how he could let me go that far away. He reminded her that she was younger than I and didn’t speak any English when she left Poland on her own to come to the US.
    It’s been wonderful for me, my folks, and even my Babci, that I love this state so much.

  211. oh, my dear!
    i do feel for you!!!
    been there, done that. and yes, it totally sucks!
    parenthood is the only profession where the goal is to make yourself redundant.
    cry, have a beer, knit a sock!
    at least nowadays there is
    e-mail,skype and whatever else.

  212. Stephanie,
    I was 19 when I went on my first big adventure: I went to Mexico for an entire semester. It was the furthest I’ve ever been from home, and given that it was too expensive to come home before Christmas, it may as well have been a trip to Mars. I know my mom worried about me, but she said all those things that you said to your daughter as I left.
    But while I was there, I had a wonderful time. I learned a ton. And the most important thing I learned that semester was to appreciate having my parents easy to get to/talk to once I got back. Before that, I wanted little to do with them, but after I got home, I wanted to stay in better touch, I wanted to talk more. If mothing else, this trip will make your daughter appreciate having you nearby when she misses you after she gets back.
    I wish you both well, and safe travels to her. I hope she has the time of her life (so far)!

  213. Who says your career is getting in the way of you coming to Australia too? There are so many of us here who would jump at the chance to meet you!
    If Amanda makes it to Canberra (the national capital) we will welcome her with open arms. And, if necessary, I’m good in a crisis.

  214. Safe travels Meg! Will you be guest blogging about your travels? I have always wanted to see Australia.

  215. My children are still quite wee, but this is my greastest fear – letting them go. When I was pregnant with my first, someone gave me a piece of advice. Actually, it more like a really twisted warning. “You will never stop worrying. From now until you die, even when they’re grown and on their own, you will never stop worrying.” I hope your daughter has a great time in Australia. I’d like to think mine will be as independent and strong as I think your three are.

  216. I’ll keep my eyes peeled. As Gretchen said, the Canberra knitters would welcome here wholeheartedly.
    (No knitting on Aussie planes though!)

  217. When I was barely 18, my Mum put me on a plane from New England to Hawaii where I lived for the next 9 months until one day I closed the living room drapes, knit a sweater–couldn’t stand the relentless flowers and warm, sunny weather–and booked a flight home. I never realized just how brave she was until I put my younger son on a plane to Oregon where he has spent the last two years living happily (and I have seen him four times. 4. Only…)
    You are so right that parenting is f**ed! but you’ve done a really spectacular job, and she’ll have a fabulous time ((and, it will be Christmas before you know it. That’s how I get through–hefty focus on the next visit and knit a Lot in between))

  218. She’ll be fine. You will be too–eventually. When he was 17, my oldest joined the Army for 5 years. Just got on a Greyhound bus and rode away to have a bunch of strangers yelling at him for 3 months, spent some time in California and Texas, then he got sent to Korea for 2 years. I baked a lot and wrote a lot of letters. We all survived. Amanda will be fine, she has a sock, and one terrific mom.

  219. I have three girls, 21, 20, and 17. And I teach juniors and seniors in high school. If you are having fun, then you are not doing it right. And that seems to apply whether they screw up and make you crazy or are so wonderful they LEAVE YOU. hang in there mom.

  220. Once again, you bring tears to my eyes. Not 100% sure why, as I’m not a parent (nowhere near, hopefully!) but this just brings to mind what my own parents would have (still do?) gone through. They drove me 6 hours away when I was 18 to attend university. I only came back for Christmases and summers. Now after 5 years of that, I’m done school, and still 6 hours away, with no moving anywhere closer in sight. Even better, I’ve bought a house with my boyfriend…. And they only see me when they come up, or the once or twice a year we make it down.
    I am sooooo not ready to be a mom yet.

  221. Steph – as for wondering if “there’s some invisible bond to your child that lasts your whole life” — I love the Chinese thought that there’s a red thread that connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break. (Check out the song “The Red Thread” by Lucy Kaplansky.)
    The red thread between you and Amanda is strong. And totally long enough to reach Australia. Believe. Breathe. And knit.

  222. Yep. It stinks. We have one off at college (5 hours away, which is certainly too far to zip over and hide in the bushes just to get a glimpse of her now and then) and one in Florida. LIVING there, because he graduated from college in May and has a job and a life apart from us. Whose idea was that?? (Never mind that I need to just be thankful that he has a good job and is capable of living independently and doing it well. Right now it just seems like he’s too far away.)Yep. It stinks from the parental point of view.

  223. Sorry, I don’t agree with encouraging the Australian people to offer your child a “pint”. Did you NOT watch the Natalee Holloway story? Did you NOT see that alcohol played a role in that horrible tradgedy? Your child is only 20—a child!— and way too young to know how things can go horribly wrong when a young girl is under the influence. Jesus, I am worrying for her. Please DO NOT email me back as I don’t care to hear your sarcastic response.

  224. I could have written this entry – and our son is only in 8th grade! But they have a camping field trip this year and soon it will be band trips to Florida. And since I spent a semester in college in Europe, of course I think it is an incredible experience. But if I could keep my baby here forever, well, I know it’s better if he goes off someday, but I certainly am not looking forward to it. I will be a basket case!
    Love the part about being able to recognize her since she has a sock!!

  225. Dear Stephanie and Joe…Been there, done that…with every single emotion you describe here. Older daughter finished college and took off to au pair in France for 6 months…followed thereafter by her younger sister, who met her so that they could travel together for another 3. And then they come home, and they build careers, and they find wonderful mates, and they produce the world’s most beautiful children–your grandchildren, and they settle into their lives LIVING NEAR YOU!!! Mine have, and I pinch myself every day. Those gorgeous young girls become the most extraordinary young women, and that’s in no small part because of the parents they were smart enough to have–who let them go and see the world when necessary. You’re doing it right. It just ain’t easy, but it’s worth it for them and for you. And mine didn’t even take along a sock!

  226. I suddenly have a sense of why my Mom’s face looked the way it did the night I flew off to a semester in Austria.
    On the bright side, the look on her face (both of our faces, actually) when she greeted me at the airport coming home more than made up for it.
    I wish I’d known how to knit then. Having a sock makes facing everything easier.

  227. Another fellow knitter passed your wonderful words on to me, because I too just sent my 20 year old daughter off to Australia for a year. I felt all the things you put into words so well. Wanting her to see the world, but wanting to be there by her side to protect her every step of the way. I know the Aussie knitters will watch out for both of our beautiful daughters (and buy them a pint).

  228. Stephanie, Hugs to you and Joe. Sending our younglings off into the world is the most scary thing a parent can do. Our youngest son, turned 25 in April, was sent off to Afghanistan with two pairs of handmade socks (he had others that were Army issue). They really are the thread that binds us all together! The individuals who do the soldiers laundry “lost” all of his shirts and socks. I am now knitting him more socks! Truely a gift of love! When they pull at our heart strings, they do it through their feet! Amanda will come home more appreciative of her parents, her sisters and her country and her socks! Hugs again.

  229. Don’t remind me. My eldest wants to go far away for college. Because we’ve encouraged her to be independant. 3 years from now. (way too soon!!!) Parenting sucks. And is the most awesome thing.

  230. My heart goes out to you, as I (along with numerous other military mothers) have sent my child to the other side of the world not sure of what they will face, and in some cases, whether they would even come home again, and if so,in what condition. It was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced, to send my 19 year old son off to Iraq in 2007 with a hug, a kiss and a prayer. But God is gracious, and we as parents discover that our children do grow and mature and become better individuals many times because of the experiences they have. For me the best comfort was my faith, because I knew he was not alone, regardless of what he faced. I envy your daughter this experience and I am guessing this will be something all of you will remember forever. Big hugs to you!

  231. She will have a great time and all who meet her will hug her. I love traveling. My first trip at 16 was to Germany for 6 months. I’m sure my Mom was a nervous wreck too. When my offspring travels (and he does that a lot), even though he’s in his 40’s, I still worry. It’s because were Moms’ and that can’t be changed. I’m taking my socks to Greece tomorrow, horaay…ciao

  232. They not only learn things, they come back and educate you. My favorite being my daughter’s carefully explaining to me “water, equal rate, equal volume”. I pretended it was new knowledge and concluded she’d had more than (one) beer.
    Congratulations to both of you.

  233. Steph, It’s OK to cry, and to not want her gone, just not where she can see you. Trust me, I’ve done it 3 times, and do really know all that you feel just now. Besides, that’s why we’re all here, to help you cry, in a while it will be good again- just different. I personally will pray really hard that she does not “fall in love” there, sheep rancher or not!
    Blessings!

  234. Awesome!
    Tell her if she comes to Melbourne, to hook up with my knitting group on Monday nights! It’s close to the city etc…
    You really should do a book tour in Australia, and that way you can keep an eye on her and delight your Australian readers! What an idea!

  235. I’m going to save that for (wait, let me count them) thirteen years from now. I’m only just beginning to understand how difficult it must have been for my mum to let me go (to France! For a year!) when I was seventeen (and how hard it must have been to keep me home when I really, really wanted to leave a year earlier).
    I hope to be the kind of mother that lets my daughter do the things I got away with.
    She’ll be fine.
    xo.

  236. Everyone else is better qualified to advise and soothe than I am (I am not a parent), so all I can say is hey! Amanda is knitting again! When did that happen?

  237. I had one go to Italy this summer. Boy I wish I had the chance. Yea you wish you could go, and yes she will learn much about herself while she is gone, so will you. Just remember God made them teenager so when they go you don’t mind so much. Face book is a great keep in touch and a fun way to share the pictures she takes. December will be here before you want it to be.. Stay strong and hope she sends fiber.

  238. trust me, letting go of boys isn’t any easier. my oldest boy just turned 17 last week. hubbie and i were watching the original woodstock movie, and paused during a nude part when hewalked in the room. we shooed him out quickly. after he left the room, i looked at hubbie and said “do you realize that he could walk into a movie theater right now and watch this without our permission?” when did our wee little boys and girls turn into young men & women (and good ones, at that! Liam is respectful, kind, caring, andis going to make some woman one hell of a husband)

  239. I left my daughter at college for the first time this past Saturday, and it sucked! And I DID say most of those things you only thought. I just lost control and begged Jenna and Her roommate to lock the doors because the bulletin board right outside their room has posters about sexual assault, and not to drink anything at frat parties and don’t go to the parties in the first place………. Yeah , I completely lost control there. The worst thing was, I then had to leave her there, just hoping that I had done a good enough job. Yeah, it is f**ked!

  240. It does suck. My oldest who is now 30 (how did THAT happen?) went to Penn State(about 2000 miles from home) and after we checked him into his dorm, I cried all the way to Niagara Falls. Then, just as I was getting used to that, the Navy in it’s infinite wisdom, decided he could fly a HELICOPTER! ‘Look ma, this is us flying over the ocean with our feet out the side door!!’ The parenting manuals just don’t prepare you.
    I wish I could tell you it would get easier with the next one. It really will be ok…. maybe cleaning the fiber room will be a good distraction?

  241. I hope she has a good time! I’ve never had to be away from my 20yo for that long. She lives at college, during the school year, but comes home often. Yeah, parenting is about eventually saying Good-bye! (lucky girl!)

  242. Oh, Steph! I don’t even have kids, but I’m all teary-eyed and worried for you! I’m sure she’ll be fine — she’s got a good head on her shoulders, I’m sure, and you did a great job raising her. As long as she doesn’t lock herself out of her hotel room in her underwear, it will fine and she’ll be home with lots of stories and pictures of that sock.

  243. I have to say that any child who is traveling with a sock in progress is going to be just fine. Have you suggested she start her own blog? I’d love to read about the sock’s travels!
    Happy trails, little girl. And hugs to your mum – I cried when I read your post, you put it so well.

  244. It must get better because now my Mom always wants me to live places that she enjoys visiting. She was completely bummed when I left LA because she had all her favorite stores and restaurants.
    You will need to take advantage of Skype. Then you get to at least say her face.

  245. What everyone before me said – and what you said, too – it sucks, but you did it right.
    As an extra – I haven’t read all the comments before mine, there are a ton of them, so I’m not sure if anyone told you already – but there’s a thread on Ravelry (I know, I should be knitting not surfing!) that quite confidently states that pouring ammonia around and on the lid of the dustbin will keep nasty pesky critters and other assorted pains-in-the-butt away from your rubbish….. I know ammonia is nasty stuff, but it might be worth it to get a quiet night…… just saying!

  246. Tell her that if she gets as far as Tasmania, to come visit – she can have a bed for the night, and I’ll take her to a belgian chocletier and a boutique brewery!
    And tell her to have fun – we’re pretty friendly!

  247. I’ll look after your daughter in Oz if you look after my about-to-be-a-father in Seattle! It’s sucks big time when you have to let them go to another country. Get Skype, knit only from your stash so you have money to pay the phone bill – and give her my number.

  248. Poor Baby. Be brave! You need to have faith in your parenting. think of it as your Exam. Blessings JOan πŸ™‚

  249. Natalee Holloway’s tragic story transpired in ARUBA – quite a world away from Australia.
    Besides, we’re talking a friendly pint among knitters, not some debauchery-filled vacation. Let’s use our heads here and not over-react. Please, people!
    Steph, your posts continually amaze me. I lurk alot, but rarely comment.

  250. I’m pretty sure that when we officially take the world record from those poor Australians you should maybe have a quick jaunt there to “make it official” and make sure your daughter hasn’t run out of yarn : )

  251. Stephanie, why did you have to post that right before school starts? My son is about to go off to first grade, and I swear I have a very similar gut wrenching feeling. I am sure he will leap out of the car without a backward glance, and I will cry all the way home. Darn. Thanks for letting me start my crying early. πŸ˜‰

  252. How wonderful for Amanda. Both this opportunity and that you are her mother and could say, “Go!.” I am reminded of a college instructor I had. To make a (different) point, he told us a story about preparing his 6-year-old son to walk to school for the first time. It was only a few blocks and he would be walking with other children, but there was one point where they had to cross a small bridge over a canal. Though just a smallish stream of water, to them at that moment it loomed as whirling rapids in the parents’ minds. The night before the first walk, the instructor considered late into the night how he should prepare his son…to stay with the group, to focus on crossing the bridge, not fall and not take chances like thinking he could walk through the stream and any number of possibly dangerous events. Finally, after not sleeping, it was morning and time to smile and send the son off on his adventure of walking to and spending a whole day at school. As the boy started out and the instructor opened his mouth to warn of the rushing water, his wife waved and said, “Remember, son, you can swim!” I am sure your daughter is equally well prepared for her adventure. Yes, parenting is f***ed. Hugs to you.

  253. Stephanie-
    My mom put me on a plane to college when I was 18. We didn’t get to visit the place before I went (we couldn’t afford it), so she had no real idea where I was going or what sort of people I’d encounter. She just trusted. She said, years later, that she’d never done anything so hard in her entire life. I was so excited to be going that I had no clue how hard it was for her. Now that I’m older (my mother’s age at the time, actually), I am overwhelmed by what a GIGANTIC act of love and courage that was. My college experience changed my life and I am eternally grateful to my mother for letting me go (I would have stayed if she’d asked). She’s awesome and so are you.

  254. yay for Amanda!!! Study abroad has been the hardest and most amazing thing I have done in my life (so far. I went to London). She’ll learn so much and have great experiences. Good for her! Be sure to set up phone planes to make it cheap-ish to talk to each other (I called my mom all the time the first couple weeks). That, and showers are the best places to have a good cry cause your roommates can’t hear you, plus you get clean πŸ™‚ Oh, be careful not to ask if she misses it when she gets back. The answer will most likely be “every day”.
    Congrats to Amanda on her amazing adventure, and congrats to your on raising a strong and smart woman!

  255. Steph, whilst my kids are *way*away from that stage of life, I can totally understand why you feel the way you do. As a ver proud Aussie, I can tell you we collectively love everyone who ventures over here, especially Canadians (whom I cone across more in my part of the country than US tourists!). Is she travelling down south at all (I’m in South Australia, yet another beautiful part of this land)? And a girl travelling with a sock is a very smart girl indeed πŸ™‚

  256. At least you know you raised her right. After all she does have a sock. Hang in the time will fly. Even if it doesn’t seem that way now

  257. My kids are about a decade older than yours, with the youngest being 24 so that means it’s 5 years since any of my three kids lived here. And you’re right, when they leave you don’t want them to, you worry that you forgot to tell them something important that will make their lives really difficult and you have to force yourself not to phone them six times a day. But are you ready for the next screwed up part? After they’ve been gone awhile and then they come home, you start asking them when they are leaving again. They seem to take up too much space, their friends keeping by and taking up too much space and you wonder how on earth you survived with 5 people in your little tiny house which now only seems to hold 2. And as soon as they go back to their new home, you miss them and wish they were with you. Yup, it’s insane.

  258. Jeez, I’m going to be keeping an eye out for her now, and I’m only in Seattle. I mean, I don’t expect to see her or anything, but just as a favor from one mother to another.
    She’s going to have a great time. You’re going to be proud(er).

  259. Just this week I jauntily waved my oldest daughter off to college so I am totally agreeing with your assessment of parenthood. It is very hard watching them walk away from you and into their own life.

  260. Oh, and one more thing. You never grow out of it. My parents emigrated when they were in their mid-30s. My mum never wanted to get on an aeroplane again and finances wouldn’t allow it. My mum never saw her mum or her sister again. However, when my dad’s mum turned 90, he went back (after 30 years) and of course visited his mother-in-law, who wouldn’t speak to him because he had taken her daughter off to a foreign country.

  261. LOL, funny, really –
    I felt much the same when my eldest disappeared off to Canada…
    Anywhere can be the other end of the earth, depends where you are!! She’ll be fine.

  262. I’m right their with you. My last little bird left the nest less then a week ago for Mississippi because some moron told him it was important to stand on your own two feet and make your own way in the world. Of course that moron was me, I don’t know what I was thinking.

  263. What a lovely post. I hope my daughter (and son!) grow to have the same strength and good attitudes that you’ve worked to instil in your girls – well done you!
    I live just south of Sydney, in the Southern Highlands… I’ll keep an eye out for Amanda!
    I hope she enjoyes her trip and grows to love Australia as much as we do!

  264. I always wonder whether you have the patience/interest to make it around to read the 296th comment on your blog, but I will leave it anyway. πŸ™‚
    First off, I read your post and had a big fat lump in my throat because I’m staring at the butt end of the parenting highway, myself, and before long I’ll be seeing my three boys ricochet off the walls of our home and land somewhere out in the world where they’ll have their own independent lives and make their own decisions. My youngest son plans on living in Australia, ironically, and is so far not persuaded when I suggest that he might want to live down the street, instead. I still have a couple of years, but I know that they’ll be over before I know it and I’ll be digging in my heels and weeping/wailing/gnashing my teeth. I’m seriously not ready for that yet, and I don’t know if I ever will be.
    Many wishes for her safe journey, and nothing but wonderful adventures along her way.

  265. *hugs*
    I’m not a mother (yet), but I live 2200 miles from my mom and while she loves the fact that I’m independent and strong and confident and smart enough to live on my own thousands of miles away, I know it also breaks her heart every time I get on the plane.
    It means you’re an awesome mom.

  266. You are so right! Parenting sucks!!! My son went to live with his Dad at 17 and I was nowhere near ready to let go even though I was glad he got the chance.
    If it makes you feel any better (and if she is in Sydney) she can always come drop in to our Stitch & Bitch group and I can send you clandestine messages on her progress πŸ™‚
    The sock is great!

  267. Sweet of her to bring a sock. You know that – right?
    I moved to England then South Africa and my poor parents live on the West Coast of the US. I have their eldest grandson and their only granddaughter. I swear I feel like blurting out, “sorry,” every time I phone (but I don’t.)
    Thing is, given how many “rights to roam” my children now have due to this situation, I know they are going to do the same thing to me. I’m going to stop thinking about that now…

  268. Yup. Parenting is f***ed! I totally agree. I find my “Mummy” instinct fighting with my “Mother” instinct all the time! I want my babies (16, 13, & 11!) with me all the time, but I know I have to let them learn independence.
    As I read your post it read like my own mind when my 16-year-old went on a band trip to Japan – and that was only for 10 days!!!
    My sympathies & best wishes. (You’ll be fine, I’m sure.)

  269. Your post made me cry! I’m having a difficult time sending my 5 year old to kindergarten down the street and letting him ride a bus, let alone a whole other continent. I was good though, and didn’t cry in front of him at school that first day.
    In my world at least, you’re totally normal. I really wonder at anyone who can send their kids off to a faraway place and not have a spot of worry over it at all.

  270. Go Amanda. And don’t worry–your mum will be fine. (I know I was, last year, when I sent my 13 year old daughter with a touring group and thought the exact same things. But she was different. She had a hat.)

  271. I totally hear you…BUT they do come back!! What they did I do not want to know but am so blessed to know they missed me a lot!! It doesn’t get better than that affirmation!!
    I hope that the good fairy of “stressed out and totally worried beyond reason Moms” will tip her wand over you as well!!!

  272. If you and Joe are anything like the cool parents you are on your blog, then your daughter will be just fine. Plus she has the sock to keep busy with and to remember you by. I reckon every stitch she makes will be an homage to you and your wonderful skills both as a Mom and a knitter.
    She might bring you back an alpaca if you asked. πŸ™‚

  273. Let Amanda know if she is looking for yarn in Brisbane to head to Tangled Yarns (http://www.tangledyarns.com.au/) . Not only will she find great yarn but good coffee/tea and cake as well as great conversation.
    And yes we will look after your girl.
    Keep smiling πŸ™‚

  274. Welcome to one of the most emotionally treacherous and wonderful stages of this job . . . parenting the emerging adult. Mine will be 27 in October, and has taught me, since he was 18, that he has his own road angels and they’re in charge now. They’re the ones I talk to when I get one of those “Ma, if you don’t hear from me in 10 or 12 days, call this number and tell them . . .” At least he files a flight plan.
    These bright and beautiful and independent ones who adventure around the world in their youth? They are the ones who give me hope that the species will survive.
    It’ll get a little easier after the day you look at her and suddenly see an adult. A real adult. But you’ll still cry when she leaves.

  275. well maybe i shouldn’t tell you that i went on my own four month adventure to Dubai three years ago today! and i’m still here!! and my dad did ask me the day before my departure to not go but my mom she pushed me forward and my dad he supported me too…
    my life change through this experience and while i miss home and my family tons and tons this experience gave me things that i wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise including a husband!!!! well i could have gotten one of those back home but none as great as the man i have now.
    but knowing your parents support you in your choices makes all the difference….from the child’s perspective (and no i don’t have any of my own yet) it means a great deal when your parents have confidence in you. it eliminated a lot of my fears knowing my mom was right there and willing to pick up all the pieces if the sh*** hit the fan. and just to put you at ease my husband and i are now working our way through the long process to move home! i’m so excited!

  276. OK Stephanie, I live here in Australia and have a kid or two of my own. Not old enough to leave home you understand by I can hear the time bomb ticking. You just drop me a line and I’ll hook you up with someone in most capital cities and some of the smaller ones too who can lend a helping hand should it be needed. I’ve even got yarn should she need it. Motherhood by proxy is better than nothing at all.

  277. oh god.
    yes. this is how we feel.
    we teach, we nudge, we encourage, and then we let go of our beautiful girls…
    and yes, we cry.
    right there with ya.
    so beautifully spoken.

  278. I’ve already posted twice, but just remembered that I had the opposite experience: my beloved mum went to teach knitting in New Zealand, just when the Swine Flu outbreak was breaking there. I rang her, and said ‘put your daughter filter on – have you got all you need to make sure you don’t get swine flu/have you got a hotwater bottle to make sure you don’t get cold/warm socks it will be cold there/etc etc’ absolutely panicking that she would get sick there! It’s not like they don’t have hospitals in New Zealand – the health care is great. I can’t even remeber if I said to have a good time, etc (although I probably did). How’s that for upside down, big bossy daughter loving nonsense! She’s even sensible – and plans and packs – I’m the one who zen navigates through big cities I don’t know. I can’t imagine how I’ll go with my girl – at the moment she can’t even go to the park by herself (she is only six!)

  279. Oh, my, did you hit the nail on the head!! I have three almost grown children…Will, who is 22; Kara, who is 20; and Peter, who is 18. Kara and Peter are off to college, while Will has quit college and now is working at Costco…sigh…I sure miss the babies!! De-cluttering around here and running into the baby albums…sniff sniff!! So effing unfair that they grew up so fast!!

  280. This part, sending them off, is hard. But in the not too distant future the two of you will go from being Mother and Daughter to this relationship that parallels the friendship of two women, but better because you knew each other the other way first.

  281. I was 20 when I went from the US to study in Spain for a whole year, and I learned soooo much–it’ll be a great experience for Amanda! (though, um, it probably won’t make you feel any better at all if I add that I then fell in love with, dated, and now am married to a Spaniard….and we live in Madrid. but we do go to the US to visit 2x’s a year!)

  282. Now I am sitting here and cry. Just today you hit my nerve because we are sending off our baby to her first day at school ever and it feels so weird that she is already six years old and the whole process of letting go has just started.
    Wish your daughter a fantastic time and she will be save, I am pretty sure. She is your daughter and I believe you tought her all she needs to know to get along in a foreign country.
    Sibylle

  283. She will be fine – honest! I was exactly the same when I waved both my kids off to the mainland a year apart – it is not quite as far as Australia, but sometimes it feels like it. And yes I cried – both times πŸ™‚

  284. Wow. Now I’m really wondering if this is how my mom felt when I left for Australia a few years back. I hope Amanda has just as fantastic a stay down under as I did, and there are no better and friendlier people to take care of your daughter than the Aussies!

  285. We’ll look after her, I’m sure (us Aussies)! If she’s coming to Sydney, the weather is absolutely beautiful and warm at the moment!

  286. If Amanda ends up in Outback NSW (Narrabri/Walgett and surrounds) I shall shout her a beer (maybe 2) she can even have a free bed in a wool house if she needs one

  287. I’m so excited that Amanda is coming to Australia! I’m sure she’ll have a fabulous time. All the knitters will be looking out for her. I have three kids and none of them has succumbed to anything poisonous, so I’m sure she’ll be fine. Spring here is absolutely gorgeous. She coming to Brisbane?

  288. Good luck Amanda – enjoy Oz – its a great country. I left Oz for the UK at 17, to study, still here. My daughter left for Germany at 17, now in Helmand – so I guess I can see it from both sides. You never stop worrying – my elderly mother still worries about me being in a ‘foreign country’. Best wishes to both of you – you gave her roots, and wings – which is all we can do.

  289. Oh, Stephanie, you have so put into words how I’m feeling at the moment. My daughter is only going 40 miles away to University for the first time but I’m still going through all that stuff.
    A big hug to you. You know she’ll be fine, you know she’ll have a ball. Just think – now you need knitting more than ever to keep hands and mind busy! I have a big project waiting for when mine goes – Rogue in lovely soft Dream in Colour Smooshie – for her, of course.
    x

  290. I’ll keep an eye out for her, as a fellow knitter and a concerned mother, myself. She’ll have a lovely time, I’m sure.

  291. There are enough knitters around this gorgeous country for your Amanda to have free board the whole time she is here. I am another from Canberra, always a spare bed or couch, family in other parts of NSW who would happily accommodate a brave, young Canadian. It would be payback for me. My daughter went at not quite 16 to Toronto, for 5 years! The best experience of her life. And, yes, I cried all the time.

  292. Have we convinced you yet?? Come on down and do a book tour. There are many, many aussies all over the country, who would love to have the opportunity to meet with you. Go on, convince your publicist. We would all help.

  293. I totally hear ya, Steph, because I’m feeling that same thing this week.
    My 20 year old son graduates from US Air Force Basic Training this Friday, and then he has 3 more months of job training as an AF cop, and then…
    He could go anywhere. And not all the places he could go are safe. And even the safe places will be far, and I won’t be there to help him in any way.
    This parenting thing really is f***ed. You called it.

  294. Steph, your Australian fans are mothers too. If Amanda has a moment of trouble or needs a substitute home we are here and we will look after her. I am serious, just let us know.

  295. My daughter did the same thing. She went to Australia for 6 months, and while I worried, I did want her to go. (No it wasn’t because she’s so very high maintenance, it’s because it was an awesome opportunity.) And really, she was back before we knew it! But most importantly, she had a truly fabulous time. Thank you, Australia!

  296. Sydney based knitter here! She’ll be right. If she needs a place to stay or any help in Sydney she can ask me.

  297. Well – been there, done that πŸ™‚ TWICE! Right now I have one child in Switzerland and 1 child in Ireland and they have both been gone for app. 1 year now. I have kicked myself mentally as I know that they got the idea of travelling from me and not their father. BUT at the same time I have all the same beliefs as you do and I have sent them of with a smile (and a lot of tears) However, they are both happy where they are and having a great time so I am now much more relaxed.
    AND I still have one teenager in the house. I have changed my tactics with him – telling him how great it would be to stay with his parents until he is app. 30 years old. He is (luckily) not buying it πŸ™‚

  298. Cool. She’s going to have such a great time! She could go to the Art Gallery of NSW and see The Sock Knitter by Grace Cossington Smith. She could even have her picture taken there with her sock on needles. I bet that would make her mum smile and feel a little better.

  299. ((((((((((Steph)))))))))))
    On the bright side, did you give her a shopping list? Remember trips away = presents. And in Australia that means Cleckheaton, Wagtail Mohair, etc. (Also Violet Crumbles, Polywaffles, Jaffas, Arnott’s Mint Slices and Tim Tams for the chocoholic.)
    – Pam

  300. I know you’ve probably had 100 offers from Aussies already, but if you suddenly feel the need to, oh, I don’t know, do a book tour to Australia, I reckon that’d go down alright here. And there’d be plenty of us willing to shout you a schooner (never a pint!!) and maybe a seven for Amanda. And provide a bed if needed!

  301. It’s hard seeing them go so far away from you but they do usually come back and appreciate you even more – for a week or two!
    I read this in a book ages ago “Children are like paper aeroplanes, in order for them to fly you have to let go”
    It’ll be fine.

  302. Just after my son was born a much older friend whose children were grown and who now had grandkids told me, “Always remember, being a parent is the only job you’ll ever have where if you do it right, you are constantly working your way OUT of the job!” I took her words to heart and I’ve been working steadily at it ever since. My son is older but so far has only traveled 1500 miles away and then only for a little more than a week. I can’t imagine 4 months and a bizillion miles, but I suppose that once they are out of driving range or an easy flight, it’s all the same. At least Amanda is staying with family and you have a way of keeping tabs on her. I hope she has a laptop and Oovoo, or at least the occasional internet connection and digital pictures she can send you. I hope she’s coming back for Christmas. That would be even harder to handle. You did well, as much as it hurts. You’re right of course about the traveling and all. Traveling definitely makes you realize that while cultures and languages might be different, underneath it all we are all pretty much the same, all human beings trying to get by the best we can. At least you have all the fall fiber festivals to distract you. A bunch of my friends say it’s always the hardest when the first one leaves, and if they never leave you get to spend the rest of your life trying to find a way to kick them out LOL! Also, I just have to say….Wow! Any kid who worked that hard to do something like that is to be commended! Way to go Amanda! I wish I was going. I do hear you about the poisonous creatures though. I’m sure all the relatives will give her a basic survival speech and demonstration. Besides, I’m sure that they know that if she wasn’t fine you would have their gizzards LOL! She’ll be fine. She’ll have a great time and be home before you know it. You know how fast 4 months goes by. You can always start a new book. That will make the 4 months fly by! Congratulations on raising a strong determined young lady!

  303. My 19-year old niece just got back from 4 months in South Africa. We missed her every single day,and even though she emailed us tons and we got to talk to her on Skype(?); it wasn’t the same. But when she got back, OMG. She was so grown up and so not our little girl anymore and we were so damn proud of her, it made up for everything. Amanda will have a blast and she will love you that much more for letting her go.

  304. Hi Stephanie, as per every other Australian who has commented, tell her she will have an absolute ball and if she is in Melbourne we meet every Monday night in Richmond…please join us!! And if she wants a weekend travelling I am sure we can take her to see some of our great animals…we also have ones that jump & sleep…can you guess?
    Debs : )

  305. Tell your girl she can email me for free B&B if she wants to visit Ballarat. She’ll have a ball down here; Australia sounds a lot like Canada, but without the Arctic weather πŸ˜‰

  306. I’ve been in Amanda’s position several times in the last few years, leaving my Mum at the airport holding back tears. The first trip was to France for 4 months when I was 18, followed by a couple of months in Uganda and South Africa at 21, and then moved to England for a year for my MSc, which included another 4 months in South Africa. She was so supportive (she even helped out with paying for the plane tickets – if I didn’t know better I’d say she was trying to get rid of me!) but it was hugely comforting to know that she was also missing me and worried for me.
    For the past year, I’ve lived 15 minutes drive away from home and I don’t think I would have chosen to live this close if I hadn’t spent some time abroad first. I know I’ll be moving further afield again soon, but it has been lovely to be close to home and I’ve appreciated it so much more after being away for a while.
    I’m sure Amanda will thank you for your support and encouragement and will have many fantastic stories to tell when she comes back. From my experience, I would advise do send emails with all the news from home but resist the urge to call every 5 minutes to see if she’s ok! She’s very lucky to have parents who are supportive and encouraging and even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, the fact that she is going to Australia is a sure sign you’ve been doing it right!
    As an aside, I’ve only found your blog recently and love it, and am reading back through the archives – it’s kind of funny to read the 2004 blogs while knowing what you are doing in 2009!
    Best wishes to all of you,
    Jenny

  307. I’m sure your mother is thinking, “Et Tu Brutus?”. I’m sure plenty of knitters will keep their eyes peeled for the lovely Canadian. I’m also sure your mum is thinking,”I’m really proud of you for letting her go.”

  308. You’ve done your job well. I felt much the same way last week when my 19-year old son got on a bus to Arizona (a place *I’ve* never been) to continue his training for the National Guard. It’s really, really, hard, but really, really necessary that we raise these amazing children to become even more amazing adults. At least Amanda has socks.

  309. This poem seems appropriate…
    YOUR CHILDREN ARE ALWAYS YOUR CHILDREN
    In your eye’s the child
    never ends,
    nor should it
    Oh the limbs grow,
    the body matures to adulthood
    But in your eye’s and heart
    the child remains
    The laughter though a deeper tone
    Still holds that
    joyous golden ring
    of Christmas presents
    or a birthday game
    The hair now full and Silky
    Still holds the urge
    to touch and stroke
    The smile though older
    still makes the heart leap
    The body may be
    tall and lithe and grown
    But in your eyes the outline
    of the child is still seen
    Though they are grown and flown
    Never does a day pass
    without the same worry
    how are they, where are they
    though they may be grown
    In your eyes the child never ends nor should it
    Bill Mitton

  310. oh wow, she is going to have so much fun! I just finished school too and I wish I was brave enough to do something like that πŸ™‚

  311. The four years I spent living and traveling through South East Asia and Europe are the most amazing years. I worked hard to do all the traveling I did and I would do it all again.
    But I say this as I am sitting here snuggled up with my 15 month old daughter. My daughter that I am hoping will be independent and strong enough to go out on her old one day. But she also gave me cause to pause the other day as I saw other mom’s finishing up school shopping. I am not ready to send her to school in 3.5 years.

  312. Ah Stephanie…this is one of the non-joys of Momhood. I also raised an independant daughter who now is a wonderful Mom raising a son of her own with her husband in Winnipeg. She doesn’t keep in touch very well because they are fine. It seems that I forgot to teach her that is OK to call when things are fine as well as when they are not!!
    Oh well, your job is not done..just entering another phase. What a wonderful time this is in Amanda’s life and you are a great parent for letting her go.

  313. I know what you’re talking about… My 15 yo daughter Emma spent 4 month in Germany. Even if she came back 2 weeks ago, I still can feel the big hole her absence made in our lives. I’ve got 2 other kids (AΓ―dan is 3 and Clara is 8), but knowing that Emma was away was a real trauma for the whole family…
    Emma plans on flying to china next summer. I can’t say that I don’t want her to, but gosh, she’ll only be 16!
    Motherhood sucks sometimes, I agree πŸ˜‰

  314. I’ll keep an eye out, and my knitting group will, too. I wonder… Does she realise that her mother has such power as to call in hordes of Aussie knitters to keep an eye out for her?

  315. Blessings to Mums and Daughters, Near and Far!
    ~Elisa
    ps. my daughter went to Germany for a year when she was 15, and she just returned home from Jamaica. She was doing her doctoral research. She will return to Jamaica next year after she finishes her qual exams.
    I feel your pain… but what adventures your babe will have, and GOOD stories to tell! She will bond with lifelong friends, off seeing the world ‘down-under’.

  316. Wow…
    This opened my eyes to what my mom was probably going through when she dropped me off on a plan to fly to Japan for a few months at 15 (And for a year at 17).
    Don’t worry, she’ll be fine and travelling alone you learn wonderful things, especially about assertiveness.

  317. Having just sent my one and only son off to college, I would have to totally agree. Besides missing him like crazy, I’m finding that the gift (?) of distance also seems to have encouraged him to speak his mind to mama and I don’t always like what I hear. Insert sigh here…

  318. There. You did it. You got me crying at my desk first thing in the morning. Having been in your shoes, I felt exactly as you described. thanks for saying it so eloquently. Blessings to you and Amanda (and Joe and the 2 remaining teens).

  319. I’m ten years away from that, and I don’t want it to happen. I still sneak into my son’s room every now and then, just to watch him sleep!

  320. She will have a wonderful time and she will be fine. You should talk to my mother who said good-bye to her 18-year-old son and put him on a plane to West Point (the United States Military Academy) and two weeks late put me (16 at the time)on a plane to The Netherlands I was gone for a year. At least you are watching yours leave home one at a time.
    However, being a parent myself now – I am not looking forward to the day when my children are leaving home. I kind of like 10 & 7.

  321. Sorry that you’ll be missing your Amanda but I, on the other hand, have been trying to convince my twelve year old that U of Sydney may be a good choice.

  322. Holding my two hours “old” son I was thinking… From now on I will never ever going to think “only” about myself. That, at the back of my mind, he will always be in my thoughts… if he is with me, that’s why, if he is not… I will keep wondering, where is he, what is he doing, is he well, etc…That I will never ever make a decision based on what I want, what would be good for me…
    Now, he is eight, going to school… letting him go off witouth me or his father still scares me to death…
    Doing what you just did was very brave, and I admire that you DID it after all…
    These days with e-mails and skype and all that things would be easyer, and do not forget she is YOUR daughter… Aside from all you thaught her, all she has to do is wave those socks like a magic wand and and knitters will be flocking all around her… She will be safe.

  323. My first separation from my parents came in the form of 4 months from Maine to BC, where I lived with my mom’s oldest sister and family- you can bet she got daily updates on my life. I was the same age as Amanda and a foreign exchange student(lol!). I know if my mom knew how much freedom my aunt allowed, she never would have let me go- no curfew, only required that I call if I was coming home after she went to bed….not that I abused her trust!
    Hang in there- at times it will be the longest 4 months of your life- but think of what a happy christmas it will be!

  324. Oh wow, Stephanie, your post couldn’t have come at a better time! On Sunday we’ll be putting our 20-yr-old son on the plane. He’s only going half-way across the US, to an opportunity we think is incredible and will change his life. And he’s a great kid, with a good heart, and a good head on his shoulders. And he’ll be with awesome people. And yes, I believe it’s time for him to be out on his own. He’ll be gone three months. But the other day it hit me—among other things, I’ll miss him playing his guitar. After all these years, it will be a completely different dynamic having only three kids in the house. And yet, I’ll hug him and smile and yell “Don’t forget the sunscreen!”—and probably come home and cry! We spend all these years trying to work ourselves out of a job! But still, it rips your heart out. (And I can’t imagine when it’s my daughter in a few years. That’s undoubtedly going to be even harder.)

  325. You are entirely correct. I only have a 3 year old and I’m already shaking in my shoes. Hugs to you brave Mama for letting that baby fly.

  326. Steph, my 51 year old daughter is moving out of my house next month and I am devastated. She has been here for 6 years after owning her own home etc and taking care of herself since she was 18. She and her husband have been here while they built a house with their own hands. Now she is going to be 18 miles away! I can’t stand it but I say things like “you will be so happy in your own house”, etc. As you said, parenting is so f***ed.

  327. Good for you, Brave Mom.
    She has wits, smarts, your family’s teaching, your belief – and a sock!- best wishes to Amanda for a great trip.
    [Breathe deeply and wait for the first joyous phone call.]

  328. My 9 month old son happily crawls aways from me, into another room, totally out of my sight. Just 5 weeks ago, if I was out of his sight, big tears would form. I guess it’s just the beginning, huh?

  329. Well done, Amanda! Perhaps it’s time for a new blog about another traveling sock!
    Steph, I know I want to cry whenever I see my little boy walk away holding his tiny lunch box…and he’s only walking up the driveway to Mom-mom’s house! You are such a great mom, totally supportive, and just think about the amazing people you are producing!

  330. My daughter went 4 hours away to college, then moved to Philadelphia, 3 1/2 hours; then to graduate school in North Carolina, 8 1/2 hours. Then, 3 days after her wedding, she was off to freaking China for two years in the Peace Corps..during which time she had an appendectomy. Now she’s closer to home, once again on her own. We went to see her new place this weekend. During a shopping trip while there, she bought her own file cabinet and printer. The Wheel has turned another spoke or two. She is, however, a remarkable woman, so I must have done something right despite my panic attacks and occasional tears. The sock got to me, too. I dropped off a spinning wheel with mine.

  331. Amen, sister! Parenting is f**ked. But can I tell you the absolute joy of setting eyes on them when they do come back? Unbelievable. And then, somehow, within 20 minutes it’s back to normal, and you wonder why they are trying to jerk your chain. Good luck, Amanda, be brave, be careful, have fun.

  332. I can totally relate, Steph. I remember saying good-bye to my first daughter when she went to Europe with a friend between high school and university. I felt just the same way. And when my second daughter did her third university year in France, saying good-bye wasn’t any easier. Then, when she worked in Germany for three years, another dreadful good-bye.
    You will survive and grow and so will she. But you’re so right about parenting and letting go … it’s all so painful. Just remember, you’re not alone in this.

  333. Just think of all the beautiful yarn she will see and hopefully buy you a skein or two. After all, you taught her well πŸ™‚
    Have fun Amanda!!! Hang in there mom!

  334. I suppose it’s cold comfort to hear that you and Joe have gifted her with such grit and grace that she’ll be able to handle everything beautifully, hmn? Figured as much. She’ll be back, full of stories, before you know it. And I bet she even brings you wool!

  335. Another Aussie knitter chiming in to try and set your mind at ease… I’m in regional NSW and I’ll keep an eye out for your gorgeous girl… and if she does run out of yarn she can have some of mine – I have plenty!

  336. My (our) daughter will be 15 in two weeks – that makes it 6 months to learner’s permit, and a year to what our state calls a provisional driver’s license.
    I revel in all of her growth. Having at one point in her life had a serious illness, having become a mom at the advanced age of 43, and having had a mom (of blessed memory) who had her two kids at 39 and 42, I KNOW that my job is to help her to grow to be strong, independent, and able to take care of herself when her dad and I are not around to help her. You know it too, because your parents clearly did the same for you – or maybe you did it mostly on your own, but you got there.
    Amanda will have a great time, and come home the better for it – as you said.
    And putting myself in your shoes – I’d be jealous as h*ll that she was going and I wasn’t able to.

  337. My baby’s 1 now, and is already keen to go off and do her own thing all the time. I suppose the “own thing” just gets more and more dangerous and further away from mummy, and I’ll look back with longing at the times that she wanted to go forwards down our very steep steps.
    Amanda will have a wonderful time though.

  338. Hmmm…you just gave me insight into how my mom must have felt 10 years ago when I left for Spain by myself for 6 months. (I was 21 and “made my own” study abroad program since I didn’t like the ones that my university sponsored.)
    And I’m betting I’ll feel the same way in about 18 years when my already independent 2 1/2 year old wants to do something similar.
    I will tell you those 6 months helped make me who I am today in ways that I’m probably not even conscious of. One of the best things I EVER did and I’ll be sad if my kids don’t get to do something similar.

  339. Awww… I need a tissue. My kids are around the same ages as yours, and I feel the same way about them growing up.
    I hope Amanda has a wonderful time in Australia. What an adventure!

  340. A very timely and warming post — my youngest (ARGH – empty nest!!!!!) is leaving in one week for school 6 hours away — you summed up those awful conflicting feelings I have been carrying around the last few weeks! I’m printing this out and putting it in my calendar so that when I begin to think I must be the only crazy parent to feel that way, I’ll know that it’s not me, but the parenting that is f***ed!

  341. Oh my God, I wanna go home from work and hug my kids now. I don’t want my oldest to have started kindergarten this year. I don’t want my youngest to get any older. Well, potty trained would be good, but NOTHING OLDER THAN THAT!
    Seriously, they become 20 year olds that go to other countries for FOUR MONTHS???? I can’t take it. I seriously can’t take it. WHERE WAS THIS IN THE PARENTING CONTRACT I NEVER SAW???
    I only hope I handle this kind of thing with as much grace and aplomb as you’ve managed here.
    Yes, parenting is frakked.

  342. Finishing school? Amanda went to finishing school??!? I didn’t know there was such a thing any more. (She grins and ducks.)

  343. OMG! If you substitute son for daughter and the fact that my DS went and enlisted in the US Navy as a corpsman (medic) THEN chose an assignment with a Marine Corps unit (and we all know what that means…) that could have beem me. I so totally understand your feelings and sympathize, but what would the world be like if young people like your daughter and my son opted to stay close to home? I have to hope and pray that they will make a positive impact and that people will be nice to them and that they stay safe and brave, and I am going to stop now before I start crying.
    -Debbie

  344. Yea, that made me cry!!! My daughter is only 14, but now you’ve got me thinking about when she goes away…. Bittersweet…

  345. Ah. Well, I’ve been the 20 year old getting on the plane (to Ireland, to Israel, to China…) and never really thought about how hard it was for my parents, since, like you, they did an awesome job of telling me to be safe and have fun (in that order). She’s got a credit card and access to a pay phone and a family (and locals!) that clearly will help if that call comes in… which it won’t.
    I guess the only thing I could add is that at some point Amanda will get how hard this was for YOU and love you more for it. If that’s possible. πŸ™‚

  346. Oh Stephanie, this just about broke my heart. It’s so true and I know I did the exact same thing with my parents, when I left home at 18 to go to college and basically never came home again. Today I bit my tongue and let my 22 year old, who is a terrible driver, take my car and drive it through big city traffic to his first job interview, because after all, what grown up has their mother drive them to a job interview? So while it’s not Australia and 4 months and a million poisonous species, it is letting go and allowing them to be grown up. Only we know, deep down inside, that they are still those same sweet little kids who still need to be cuddled and protected the way they did when they were four. And I don’t care if he does tower over me now and makes a point of counting all the gray hairs on the top of my head, I never gave him permission to grow up! When did I let go? I never saw it coming.

  347. The worst of it is that you did a terrific job. The proof is that she has the courage and stability to go. Courage she learned from you and stability of your home when she wants or needs it.
    I fully understand. I live on the east coast and both of my kids live on the west coast. I am a new empty nester and I hate it. I see them once a year. It is not nearly enough nor will it ever be.
    It is a bitter pill but you did a terrific job. Welcome to the not fun club.

  348. I’m having the same issues right now…but with a 12 year-old! Thanks for saying all of the things that I felt like saying, but couldn’t articulate as well as you. It’s hard to let them go when you just feel like you got them just the way you want them, and then they go and change.

  349. I’m never going to be on your side of the security gate, but as the daughter of a mother who encouraged me to travel and explore, I can say that Amanda will enjoy her trip all the more for your encouragement and support.
    And look on the bright side…we haven’t colonized Mars yet, so there’s a limit to how far she can go.

  350. Of course you have 386 other comments… but I still have to say: you just explained what I’ve been going through sending my son to college. Thanks for putting it into words and expressing the incongruence of all the stuff I’ve been feeling. You got it right. Yeah. I sent my daughter to Africa for 5 weeks once…

  351. Been there. Done that. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Substitute Egypt and other much more dangerous places in the general area of the Middle East and you have what our darling daughter is doing. I often chant to myself, “You wanted to raise a strong, intelligent daughter. You did it to yourself.”

  352. Oh, thanks for the memories. Our daughter left for Japan following graduation from university. During a study abroad in Japan she met a fine young man and she returned to work and see where this relationship would lead. She lived and worked there for two years during which time she became fluent in Japanese, married (it was a beautiful traditional Buddhist temple ceremony)and was subsequently accepted to a pretigious law school. Lived for three years in Boston and is now living in Brooklyn. We live in Washington state. I will tell you the raw feeling of being punched in the gut eases but, for me, I would really love it if she could come for Sunday dinner every week. But we are proud of her and she is feeling strong. When folks ask me about the physical distance I say that it is as it should be. We raised her to move forward in her life and all that has happened – college, love, marriage, law school, employment she loves – are what we worked toward as we were raising her. But, boy, I am ever with you on the f$%@ed up parenting ’cause it is hard to have her so far away all the time.

  353. Hi Stephanie,
    What an absolutely beautiful post. You’ve made me cry, right here in the middle of my office. I don’t have kids, but I had a mum, a really good one. I miss her more than anything. You’re a really good one, too.
    Rosane.

  354. This kind of thing truly is the best and worst of it. What’s going to blow you away is the woman you meet at the airport at Christmas. Katie walked right by and my husband didn’t even recognize her. It was one of the most awesome moments, laying eyes on her then, taking it all in — feeling, seeing, sensing — all the changes inside & out in that instant. Much love to you. I hope she’s able to send you an email now and then.
    ; )

  355. *Sniff*. And my baby’s only going to Kindergarten next week, but I know I’ll feel exactly the same way some day, if I’m lucky. Yup, parenting makes headcases of us all. Be strong and proud (as you always are), Mum!

  356. Yesterday was my mom’s first “day” alone in the house…ever. The last of the grandkids started ALL DAY school. She kinda freaked…and had the very same kinds of ideas as you about the whole parenting (and grandparenting thing) when she couldn’t stand it anymore and called me.
    I told her, and I tell you, the best thing that ever happened to me to really make me into an adult, was to go far far away from home. We need that time to figure out what kind of person we are going to be. And it sucks hard on the parents, I know that now.
    Trust me though, we do come back, often. At 35 I’m the one crying at the airport when I say good bye to my parents (they both drop me off, always).

  357. Hi Stephanie,
    This post hit home. I totally understand, and I’m on the other side of the perspective!
    My fiance and I are trying to start a life in a state far from home. I’m 26 and the thought of leaving my mom, and knowing that she probably feels the same as you, tears me apart.
    Her and my dad got married at the same age as I am, and then they left to start a life across the country as well. And back then it was hard for her and her mom too!
    Its just one crazy cycle. Just know, that your girls will always be your girls. And eventually, they come back even for moments at a time.
    Here’s to a fabulous trip for Amanda, and the happy reunion you’ll have in December! Think of all the stories you’ll be able to share then.

  358. Stephanie, thank you for this. I don’t have children (yet,) so only by reading your words do I understand what it must have been like for my mother, as she put me on a plane to England when I was sixteen. I was going for three months as an exchange student. It was a wonderful time for me and changed my life in the best possible way. That was 18 years ago, and I think I’m going to go call my mom now.

  359. What a wonderful adventure. All in all, Australia is a pretty tame place. Remember, it could have been outer Mongolia! I went to Scotland at 19 and it shaped my whole life. Of course, I stayed for 10 years but I’m sure that’s not going to happen with her!!

  360. Tears. I know it’s not the same, but I just spent the morning getting my middle child (boy) settled at kindergarten, and he has Type I diabetes, which means that even though he looks like every other little boy, he needs a few things – and I’ll be back at lunch – but reading this reminded me that someday, each one of my three is going to go somewhere, and I will be so WORRIED. More tears.
    You are totally right, as usual.

  361. I’ve been sitting at my desk crying for the past 15 minutes. We sent our son to California for college last week — and we live on the east coast. Not as far as Australia, but it seems a world away. This is what we’re supposed to do — raise our kids to be independent and eager and adventurous and good people. It just takes some getting used to when they do that thousands of miles away. Thanks for writing about what I have been feeling.

  362. Oh Stephanie, once again you have hit the proverbial nail on the head.
    I put mine on a plane to Korea in mid-July. She’s on a year-long teaching contract, then who knows what new adventure she’ll take on after that.
    And that was after 4 years of her living away from me most of the year for university.
    Just breathe, and repeat: She’s supposed to grow up and go away. She can be trusted to look after herself. She’s supposed to be learning about the bigger world right now.
    It gets a little better. International calling cards are a good deal.
    But I agree – this business of putting all the time & effort in, with the express purpose of enabling them to walk away, feels like arse.

  363. Nothing prepared me for the time when my own daughter left home to go to college in Chicago (from San Diego) and really never came home to live with us again. Yes, a few weeks here and there on school vacations and during the summer. There was always an adventure waiting for her in between her visits to us but for years it left a hole in my heart. She turned into a most lovely, compassionate and totally interesting young woman despite my fears and worries. What I failed to realize when I was going through this is that all mother’s feel this way and it’s probably character building for us too. It helps to share it with others. Those whose kids never leave home or live in the house around the corner from you just don’t understand. We’re here for you!

  364. Just to let you know, my oldest will be 40 in January and it never gets any better!!! Your heart is always going with them.

  365. Half a lifetime ago, when I was 19, I went off to Germany to work and better my German language skills, and travel. It was a defining experience in my life and allowed me to know exactly what I had in me. I was a good kid and I did very well there and was safe the whole time.
    Trust your daughter to do well too. I’m sure you have given her a strong foundation and she will be able to look out for herself. She will come back to you stronger and brighter and her own woman. You gave her the wings, now watch how beautiful she makes the sky.

  366. Stephanie, I totally understand what you are going through. When my daughter went to Australia (for the second time) at age 20, I helped her get ready, helped her finance the trip, supported her through the whole process, celebrated her excitement about and commitment to her goals, gave her a credit card just in case something really bad happened, and listened to her cry long distance the night before she departed because she was being eaten alive by chiggers, … She went anyway and spent a glorious, life-changing, forever friendships kind of summer (winter in Australia) in Australia. It was the year she experienced three winters in one year, but she, now the mother of three little boys, would not trade anything for that segment of her life.

  367. It doesn’t get any easier. My only child/daughter is 36 and has been away several times; to Europe for 18 months working her way through with ‘Willing workers on organic farms’ and then 5 years in Hawaii (who could blame her). Now she lives 6 hours away and I still cry every time she leaves. I’m crying now with you.
    I love what she’s accomplished and who she’s become but Jesus but I miss seeing her

  368. *hugs*
    I’m on the starter issue. Next week my son is going to kindergarden ALL DAY for months. I guess it don’t get an easier?

  369. I knew that parenting would be physically hard but I never imagined how mentally hard it would be! Wonderful post.

  370. My oldest is on his second deployment to Afghanistan, my second went to Costa Rica for a winter break class and then to Ghana, Africa for a 6wk summer research trip (she made bio fuel out of various oily seed pods she collected in the jungle with an armed guard!!) and my 3rd spent a semester in Australia studying at James Cook U, playing co-ed rugby and diving with sharks and fish bigger than she is. It was/is hard having them so far away but they sent lots of emails, photos, and the occasional video clip and came home knowing they could do anything (sort of). Have a great time Amanda!! (And send Mum lots of emails!)

  371. You have just validated my thoughts that the whole job of parenting is to raise children who will one day be able to walk away confidently and rip my heart out as they leave.
    Deb in Wisconsin

  372. Nearly fifteen years ago now (OMG –15!?!), I went to Ireland from the US for from Sept 5 to Christmas. It was the most wonderful, adultifying, necessary thing I’d ever done. I know that my parents must have felt just as you have, but the rewards have been enormous.
    In fact, I’ve three younger sisters, and all of us have done something along these lines: New Zealand, Alaska, Greece. This is, in fact, one of the hardest final exams ever for both of you. I suspect you both will make it through with flying colors. Strong women survive the most amazing things. πŸ™‚

  373. as I get ready to take my first precious baby to university, you have written my thoughts. I am remnded of a parenting lecture from a reknowned psychologist who said “parenting is the only job that if done correctly puts you out of business “. how true! if I were not still so close to my parents and did not know how that link only changes and strengthens as children grow and mature , I would really fall apart

  374. I just took my oldest 730 miles away to start college a week ago and will not see her until the end of November. I totally agree with you. We raise our children to be independent, strong adults, but no one tells us how to handle it when they have to leave. We want this for our children, but it’s so hard to let them go and do what we raised them to do. It doesn’t seem fair.

  375. Consider yourself hugged – I’ve been there and it is excrutiating but we can survive it- Just get in bed with a drink and fondle some yarn and/or a loved one who hasn’t left! Then use Skype to keep in touch with DD in Australia

  376. Ah, Hell, you made me cry.
    I sent the one back to college yesterday, the other is living on her own with her boyfriend and I miss them so bad sometimes it hurts.
    You’ll recognize her, she has a sock.
    Dear G-d woman, do you know how to make a parent cry!

  377. How amazingly fantastic, even though all of you doesn’t think that right now. How I wish I’d done that 20+ years ago, before life got in the way. You’re right to be proud of her.

  378. Go Amanda! Have fun! I took off when I turned 18 to see the world, I joined the Navy. I got to see a lot of the world, the US, Europe, Africa… and loved every minute of it. And got paid for it, to boot. Best decision I ever made. You should travel and see the world, whether you’re young or old or in between. It’s pretty amazing to be in Madrid or Casablanca or Moscow and see how other people live. And you, mom, should know you’ve done an excellent job that she can go, knowing she can come home.

  379. My first thought was … I hope Amanda is going to blog her journey (I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, and would love to read about her adventures – and watch the sock grow). It would be cool to her later as a diary of her trip too … can you tell I REALLY would like to travel (but am old, married,mortgaged and employed … waiting for retirement to travel the world!)
    Your blog will be a nice touchstone for her while she’s away … she’ll be able to see what’s going on at home, and “hear” your voice nearly everyday. It’d be nice if she blogged to so you can see what she’s up to betweeen calls, MSN, Skype, facebook, etc.

  380. Wait until your baby is 36 years old, living on the other side of the continent (full time, mind you) with a husband that is mostly spoiled child (that doesn’t even have a job as his choice) and see how you feel then!!!
    You will feel the same way – I do and age makes no difference. I cry everytime I see her which is not enough and every time I say goodbye, which is way too many times.
    Motherhood IS terrible – and sometimes the joy of watching a beautiful child handle life on her own is not enough – she needs to be next door or 10 miles away at the most.
    Good luck to your beautiful Amanda – and you WILL survive – I did and do.

  381. My daughter went Down Under for a whole semester and came back a whole new wonderful person. You did the right thing. Just keep in mind that the internet is a wonderful invention that allows you to share experiences and thoughts. you can talk to her every morning just before she goes to bed. Facebook will allow the sharing of pictures too so you can still feel connected. And now you can just put more focus on the other two… πŸ™‚

  382. Dear Stephanie
    Since I am the 416th (or something)to post, I will be surprised if you read this. But I totally feel your pain and angst. My baby leaves for college on Thursday. My parenting days are officially over…

  383. Oh dear…I’m about to go through the same thing myself and you’ve just voiced every single thought I’ve had for the last 3 weeks…so now, I’ll be putting my precious babygirl on a plane and then going to lie down in a dark room…yes, parenting is certainly f***ked up!!!

  384. Awww. And I was crying yesterday because I dropped my baby off for his first day at a 7-12 school!

  385. My 26-year old is only about 10 minutes away from us, but she is slowly making her own decisions WITHOUT the benefit of her parents’ great wealth of knowledge. Somehow she is surviving and making the right decisions. She is now searhing to buy a house, and went looking at houses last week with, not us, but the realtor and her boyfriend (?). Like, what say does he have in this decision? Anyway, she told me she is not going to live with anyone unless she knows she will be getting married to that person in the near future.
    Sorry, I digress, once again. The whole point of this was to say not to worry. Somehow kids make the right decisions and we don’t have a clue how that happened without us.
    Never to fear. You have done a wonderful job raising the girl; I’m sure she will make the right decisions even if you are not there.
    Liz L.
    P.S. We are leaving HER for 2 1/2 weeks to go to S. Africa. What will I worry about? I will worry about her being in the U.S. without us.

  386. I couldn’t have said it better–just substitute “college” (where I dropped my dear daughter yesterday) for “Australia” and you have my feelings exactly. Damn!

  387. As a daughter who went to Spain several times for long periods of time (1st time at age 16) this is a WONDERFUL thing you are doing. I grew so much with each trip. Send care packages, write emails, knit to keep busy. It’ll go by quickly, trust me!

  388. This makes me realize that my parents raised me to feel I wasn’t competent to do anything really grand. I wish you had raised me.

  389. You already have 400+ folks sharing your pain, but all I have to say is…dang, she’s got a SOCK…you’ve brought her up right!

  390. I understand completely! Fortunately ( or if I am truthful, unfortunately ) I have had to do this several times. My oldest girl left for 6 weeks when she was 16, to live in a hotel run by the Salvation Army for woman,in New York! Getting herself to and from Joffrey Ballet School. The next time, at 20 years old, off to Paris to school for 2 years, again living on her own. And now what is she doing, you ask? Traveling the world with her best friend ,living on 10 dollars a day. So far they have been gone for six months. Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Dubai, India, Nepal and now she is in China. They aren’t planning to be home for another year! It doesn’t matter that she is 26 now. She is my baby!! I want her home, I want to hold her! I want her hard earned dollars to run out so she will come back sooner!!!! What a bad mother I am. What’s even worse is that her siblings have taken her lead!!!!

  391. Okay – today my three girls went off to school – 7th grade, 4th grade and 5th grade and I felt exactly the same way…They all have a new haircut, cute outfits and are adorable (I am their Mom what can I say) and I tell them to Be good and be nice to people and have a great first day of school and all I really want to do is crush them to my chest and hold on to them for dear life…I know my Australia is coming but I appreciate that someone else feels the same way I do about parenting….

  392. Oh, I have a clutch in my heart! Even though I am many, many years away from this experience, I am not looking forward to it.
    Once when my son was only a few months old, he did something new. I leaned against the kitchen counter and cried my eyes out, “Every step he takes is a step away from me!” I was bereft.
    That feeling resurfaces occasionally, but is usually quickly covered back up by laundry, dirty dishes, and demands for food.
    My heart goes out to you, and I hope your other two girls take good care of you!

  393. Oh, Stephanie. My brave and beautiful elder (of 2)daughters went away at only 18, so I feel your mixture of pain and pride. That (now) amazing woman of 43 had (then) joined the army and was being posted to South Korea. OMG. I was so proud of her and scared almost into a nervous breakdown. At least yours will come back in 4 months. Mine finished her Korean tour and signed up for another one, in Germany, then came home and bought property in a different state thousands of miles away from me where she wanted to get her bachelor’s degree, which she did. And she married and she bought another piece of property with a house on it this time for them to live in, and she picked up a whole multitude of crafts, some of which I will take credit for teaching her, but most of which she just took her brains and enthusiasm and learned for herself. We gardened when she was young and she’s wonderful at it now. We had animals, she always has animals. It’s just a beautiful thing. But, yeah, I know the adjustment to your lovely girl becoming an amazing woman is pretty hard. But you know what? At some point she is going to become not a girl in your eyes, but an interesting adult female with so many gifts to give this world. You’ll see. Wait for it.
    Signed: The deep south woman in whose shawl you posed for a photo

  394. Too bad the Australians wont let her knit on the plane.
    She will make it fine TO AUS, but FROM AUS is a different story. I thought I was going to go crazy on the flight back home.
    Remember: keep wood dpns in a pencil case with a bunch of other pencils and pull them out mid-flight and cast on.

  395. Contary to what you see on the TV there are more good people in the World then bad-so just beleive that Amanda will fine and will have a great time. And most people will really avoid any kind of snake, jellyfish or spider, poisonous or not, so dont worry.

  396. Well done Stephanie! When I was 16, my parents let me go to France for a three month exchange, and I have to say it was one of the best experiences of my life. I know it was hard for them, but I came back to my small town in Ontario with a broader outlook on life and could speak French, to boot!

  397. Steph,
    Boy do I feel your pain. My only son headed off to basic training. The army, What was he thinking. We work so hard to keep them safe then send them off. She will be safe & have a wonderful Time. You’ll be fine. It only hurts for a little while. She’ll be home before you know it & e-mail travels so much faster than letters, so you’ll know more of what she’s doing when she does it. Knitters all over are watching out for her. We extend ourselves for more than just yarn.

  398. Parenting is like that. Even in Australia.
    (My daughter is 13 and is doing her level best to make me WANT to ship her off to Australia for, oh, five or six years, but it’s not working.)

  399. boy, did this make me cry….my son just started Kindergarten, that was hard enough…..i can only imagine how difficult letting go is after 14 more years of parenting….

  400. I read this while holding the Mogrunt in my arms… and now I’m bawling and hoping, by the time he’s old enough to travel, that I can be teleported to his side whenever he needs me.

  401. Your parenting posts are always inspiring, but this one adds a nice touch of terror. Um, thanks? πŸ˜‰

  402. Oh, yes it’s not easy! I’m reading this just one day after my oldest’s 33rd. birthday. I have no trouble remembering what I was doing 33 years ago!
    But I think when they start to travel, it’s harder when you know you did it to yourself! Little did we know what we were doing when we took her (at 15) and her younger sister, then 12 to live in France for two years. Confidences and selfassurance just seemed to oozze out of them by the time we came back to the U.S.
    And then before the oldest’s 18 birthday we left her at college 1,051 miles from home! And now,
    my youngest who did a semester in Scotland while in college, lives in Colorado and the oldest in California. I’m in Indiana.
    And there IS a reward for letting they grow up you know. Grandkids!! Even if they do live thousands of miles away. Video conferencing does help some. (we’re still waiting to see if your putting the knitting needles in my grandaughters hand will make her a knitter. at 18 months she’s doing chair dances since she learned to turn on the I-Pod! LOL)
    Four months seems forever, but when you look at the speed of the last 20 years, you know it’s not!

  403. Wow. That’s super sweet. I think Amanda will have an amazing time, and when she gets back you will let the haze of worry just disappear into the past and forget it ever existed until one of your other lovely daughters decides she wants to travel far away too.

  404. Steph,
    *Both* my kids (daughter, now 28 and son, now 24) went away to university at 17-18. One new lives 1 1/2 hours north of me; the other, 5 hours south. They rarely visit — though always at Christmas. Sometimes they call; sometimes they e-mail — mostly to ask advice or to ask a favour (with which I usually come through). I had to join Facebook just to keep up with them!
    But it’s okay. Your main parenting job with Amanda is done. Finito. Finished. Over. Now’s the time to enjoy the fruit of your labour — like her talent, skills, loveliness. Like fun and friendship — even if she is…er…in Australia.
    Miss her, yes, but know you and Joe have produced a wonder, and she’s gonna be okay. πŸ™‚

  405. I was that kid – but spent 4 months studying in Mexico at the age of 19 and a year studying (read drinking) in Spain at the age of 21.
    I never realized how hard it was on my mom until this summer. My neighbor girl (22) left last night for 27 months in the Peace Corp in Nicaragua. Her mom (my friend) is a mess.
    Thank goodness for technology and Skype!

  406. My parents always encouraged us to get an education, because they thought it was the most important investment we could make in our future.
    When I told my mother (at the age of 30, not 20) that I was thinking of moving to Seattle (from Montreal) to do a PhD, she said: “but what will you do if you don’t like it there?” I was surprised, since she had always been supportive before. I eventually figured out it was just her way of saying “that’s so far away! I’m going to miss you…” I think she felt her plan had backfired too…
    πŸ™‚

  407. At 16 I spent a year in Norway – long before e-mail, Skype, and cellphones. It was a great experience that has shaped the person I am today. About a year ago I was given the opportunity to realize a lifelong (or nearly so)dream to live in Norway. Living abroad gives a person the opportunity to experience a different culture. I hope Amanda has the time of her life!

  408. Ah, Steph! Your are going to have to get a grip!
    If you don’t, you will not survive the next two teens emancipation…
    There will come a time ( trust me on this) when there wil be just you and Joe and it will be okay. In fact, you’ll even love it!
    As an empty nester I can’t tell you the incredible freedom you will have! Oh, you still love your kids and follow along with all their ups and downs….but weirdly disconnected.
    Brace yourself my dear!

  409. Sign up for Skype today. You will get free international calling over the internet. Just get a headset for your computer and you are good to go. The worst problem you will have is coordinating time zones.

  410. I totally understane! My daughter lives (with her husband and our soon to arrive grandson) in Greece for 9 months out of the year. One word for you….. SKYPE. Also get a phone “plan” which includes rate plans for Australia and then call her whenever you are missing her…. well, not Every time, but sometimes… You’ll be ok.
    Sometimes, when she leaves, we are both in tears at the airport. Othertimes, I know she will be back and I’m ok…. It gets better.

  411. I totally understand! My daughter lives (with her husband and our soon to arrive grandson) in Greece for 9 months out of the year. One word for you….. SKYPE. Also get a phone “plan” which includes rate plans for Australia and then call her whenever you are missing her…. well, not Every time, but sometimes… You’ll be ok.
    Sometimes, when my daughter leaves, we are both in tears at the airport. Othertimes, I know she will be back and I’m ok…. It gets better.

  412. Weren’t you about 20 when you HAD Amanda? It’s all perspective. I got married @ 20 (24 yrs on 8/31) & my mother survived. LOL

  413. No doubt it is the hardest thing you will ever do to let her go, but take if from another mother of three that what you get back after they have flown away is someone who will totally get everything you have tried to communicate for the last 20 years. Suddenly you will seem so much wiser, kinder and more balanced!
    And when she comes back, you will have a friend as well as a daugther who will be a revelation to you and make you smile that by god…you did good!

  414. Breathe, Baby! Making sure you’re doing enough of that at this point makes all other good options possible later on… =)

  415. I’m completely there with you. My 24 year old daughter just left for 18 months in South Korea to teach English. It’s exciting and very hard!

  416. I’m 25, have travelled independently for short and long periods (including 3 months in Germany when I was in grade 11), and while those experiences gave me a good taste for travel and its accompanying wisdom, they also imbued me with a very strong sense of home and family. I still need my parents! Maybe not to get me a sandwich or keep me from getting lost, but definitely to serve as a reminder of what I love about home, and to help me remember that scary things can still be the right things to do.

  417. Every one of our children should read what you have written. It says so beautifully how every parent feels when their child leaves home. It does not matter if they go thousands of miles away or just around the corner, we will ALWAYS worry about them. That said, I am so proud that my 2 kids are on their own and do not need me too much, it says that we did a good job preparing them for the world.

  418. It’s the hardest thing to do. You prepare them to stand on their own 2 feet and then let them go. My 20yo son has just finished the first 2 years of uni and is taking a gap year to get work experience. He hates it and it’s making him miserable and ill with stress. It’s taking every fibre in my body to not send him a ticket and say come home and I’ll look after you.
    And yeah it’s a control thing. Same reason I can’t fly!

  419. First the encouraging bits:
    You’ve done a great job with all the kids. She will be back before you know it. It will be a grand adventure for both of you. the world is better with you and her and more of the world will love you both.
    Now the anxious bits:
    uh oh you just invited all the Aussie knitters to buy her just one pint, that might be interpreted as each one buys one pint and that is a lot of pints.

  420. Thinking of you, and wishing your girl well. Please remember that independence and confidence are the best gifts a parent can give a child, and letting them go is the hardest thing of all.

  421. How awesome that Amanda gets to go to Australia for a whole 4 months! Having been to Sydney once for only three days and not sure if I’ll ever have the opportunity to go there again, I’m happy for her. Australia rocks. She’ll get to experience so much more of it than I did, and she’ll remember her experiences there throughout her life.
    She looks just the way one should look before embarking on an adventure–excited, happy and confident. You, her Mum, had more to do with that than anyone else. Well done, Steph!
    Oh, and one more thing. A new online yarn shop in Oz is opening soon. (stitchculture.com) There will be Noro, Jo Sharp, Madelinetosh…and Stitchjones! So in a way, I’ll be there too, looking out for your daughter in spirit. πŸ˜‰

  422. Thinking of you, and wishing your girl well. Please remember that independence and confidence are the best gifts a parent can give a child, and letting them go is the hardest thing of all.

  423. Lordy woman, you’ve been on an emotional roller coaster these past several weeks!
    I also have a 20-year old daughter and understand your bittersweet feelings. Their transition from being our adorable and funny baby girls to independent “people” is way harder on us Moms. Who knew they were listening to what we were saying? But it’s all good; a little difficult to process, but all good.
    I

  424. When I turned 21 I’d just moved to Greece and was working in a library. Moving overseas was hard for me as I’d never been very adventurous. One would think that my move would have been easy since my mom had already moved to Athens, but no. So for my 21st birthday (celebrated in a taverna near the Acropolis), my mom gave me this poem. It was written in 1947 by Margaret Mead, who gave it to her daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. Now I have a daughter who is 15 and well on her way to becoming a courageous woman. She has endured surgery and other problems with grace and poise, and even though raising her has sometimes been hellishly hard, I wish her well – as I do your daughter as she embarks on her Adventures.
    That I be not a restless ghost
    Who haunts your footsteps as they pass
    Beyond the point where you have left
    Me standing in the newsprung grass,
    You must be free to take a path
    Whose end I feel no need to know,
    No irking fever to be sure
    You went where I would have you go.
    Those who would fence the future in
    Between two walls of well-laid stones
    But lay a ghost walk for themselves
    A dreary walk for dusty bones.
    So you can go without regret
    Away from this familiar land,
    Leaving your kiss upon my hair
    And all the future in your hands.
    -Margaret Mead, 1947

  425. Steph..take a deep breath…then, think job well done..your have made her an independent WOMAN..able to live on her own, be what she wants..you have been a very good role model..Your daughter will be happy, making her own decisions..because you taught how..Of course she will stumble a little, but she will grown..Love her be ready to listen, but not to judge..she is still learning..DON’T be to eager to rescue..she’ll be OKAY!

  426. Wait, she finished college already? Smart girl!
    Or is she doing a semester abroad/semester off type dealio?
    Either way, good luck to the both of you. When I wanted to do a similar thing, my parents couldn’t bear it, and so I didn’t go. While I’m glad I didn’t in some ways (never would have met my fiance!) I still wish I could have had that experience — so good on you.

  427. Ah, yes. Mine went off to Paris 26 years ago….and stayed! We’ve been back and forth lots of times, but it’s surely not the same. It’s so hard to let go. I’m not sure I have yet! I sent her the link to your post so she can see a bit of what moms feel. Too bad she has no kids, and will not ever feel this horrible pain!
    I have a son in his forties, too. He keeps coming back and leaving…..but it’s true that their strengths and independence are totally due to us. Mine were raised by me in Chicago, and have no fear. See her blog at bonniesphere.com or mine at midnightmaven.com for her recent medical/surgical adventures in a wheelchair in South East Asia! Talk about heart-stopping….

  428. Amen, Sister!
    We just dropped Eldest Son off at Michigan State for his freshman year, and I think you pretty much summed up the whole parenting thing… Godspeed to all children who are out of the reaches of their loving parents!

  429. After I graduated from college I moved to Japan for two years. Oddly it made my mom and I closer. My parents and I had a weekly call, and the move to Japan was the push my mom needed to learn how to use Instant Messaging. So we’d ‘talk’ all the time that way.

  430. As always (well, at least MOST of the time), Stephanie, you speak the words of my heart. As a 3rd generation San Franciscan, I’ve had to part with my amazing 2 children, both of whom went across the country to attend college in Manhattan. The oldest then decided to spend a year in Barcelona before starting med school, again on the East Coast. And my baby had the audacity move to London (UK, lest there be any confusion, thanks to having done so well in his job. There are so many things “they” don’t tell you when you become a parent. Guess I’ll have to comfort myself with being proud, and truly relish the moments when we do manage to get together.

  431. my daughter went to Australia for a year to become a teacher. It is hard and you miss them but she came back with her masters of teaching and now has a teaching job in toronto. Just to let you know it was always safe when she was there and you will b surprised at how many people she will meet.

  432. Dear Lord – You have put my thoughts to words and out on the internet. Last week I moved a child from Los Angeles to Rochester NY so she can study to be an ASL Interpreter and then travel the world to supply her services. What the f**k!
    This week I have spent parenting my younger child through the coping of losing a friend to suicide.
    I need to know where is the parenting handbook either of these were covered…

  433. Oh. Yes, lets face it, that is f**ked. We raise them to be independent and then they have the nerve to actually become independent FAR AWAY from us.
    I cried for you.
    Well.. actually I probably cried for my future self (DD is 16).

  434. I know exactly how you feel. My dear daughter left for India at age 21 and has made her home there, studying Buddhist philosophy for the last 8 years. She’s amazingly capable and has met loads of ex-pat Canadians, Americans and people of many other nationalities who all help each other. It’s a great thing and I expect her to come back for more than a visit some day. Giving them roots gives them wings!

  435. OK, I was able not to cry at the letter to Tina, but this put me over the edge. I know exactly how you feel and feel the same myself.

  436. My parents, when I was 20, shipped me off to Scotland for four months, while my older brother was–get this–in Afghanistan looking for terrorists and trying not to get himself killed. While we were both on the wrong side of the Atlantic, my mom had a heart attack and their city got hit by a hurricane.
    Everything turned out okay. πŸ™‚
    That all being said, I’m totally not looking forward to this part of parenting my own kids someday.

  437. At least you still have two at home, my baby is leaving for college in 2 weeks. She’ll only be 3 hours away, rather than across the country the way her sister did. Also, what a great reason for you to go visit her in Australia. I got to go to Paris when Nicole spent a semester there and it was great. And video chats make a huge difference.

  438. When I was 20 I left my mom at the gate of the airport yelling the same things to my back. I was off to Italy to study for four months. I had no family there, one friend and I didn’t *really* speak Italian. Even though I had spent the last two years living between two and seven hours away from home, there is something about being that far away that changes everything. I went from calling my mom once a week to calling her every other night. I am so thankful I had the chance to make the trip when I did and I know your Amanda will look back with the same appreciation. You (and my mom too) are awesome for letting go!

  439. I was the same way when my now 20 year old went to Israel for 3 months at the age of 16. I was terrified the whole time she was gone and at the same time envious of the experience that she was going to have. She came back no worse for the wear and with a pierced belly button, but still and always my little girl.

  440. Hope she has fun. I just got back from there, and it’s definitely more of an adjustment when you get back than when you get over there. And remember, there are plenty of ways to stay in contact – Skype is your friend.

  441. I feel for you, I let the 15 year old boy go to NY city for ten days over the March Break. Yes he was with a group & had to check in a couple times a day but he was genrally unsupervised, of course a theatre kid in NY isn’t going to wander to far but every nerve tingled the whole time he was gone. I don’t think I could do 4 months

  442. While I’ve never met you, or your girls, just reading this blog reinforces my belief that a) you are a good mother who’s taught her children well, and b) notwithstanding the apparent inability to do the laundry, your daughters have learned well what you taught them. So don’t worry too much, she’s smart, she’s brave, and I’m sure even before the worldwide confession of her mother, she knows how much you care.
    That said, keep this in mind. According to my co-workers, just about the time you get the last one out the door, the first one will be coming back in the door, grandchild in tow, seeking your advice on raising her child. That’s when you discover the joys of hearing, “Mom, you were so right!”

  443. Steph,
    You will be fine, she will be fine. We absolutely must do things like this in our youth – too soon we are too old with too much responsibility and not enough time to see the world. My oldest daughter left at 18 to spend nine months in France as an exchange student – no cel phones back then. It was a wonderful experience for her. And my sister spent two years in the Peace Corp in Kenya right after she graduated college. Hurrah for smart girls!

  444. Somehow you manage to always say what I’m feeling when I’m feeling it. Thanks for sharing and my thoughts, hopes, and tears are with you too.

  445. Good luck to you both, her for her journey and your for her stay away.
    Parenting is f*d but you did such a good job Stephanie.
    And imagine how it feels to be a foster parent and know that for the most part you have to let them go well before you are ready too.
    You have such wonderful girls. They are a tribute to you and Joe.

  446. I empathize with you completely! My son (17) left for a week trip to see a friend in Florida (which is on the other side of the country – we live in California) Not as far as Australia, I know. First time ever that he travelled anywhere alone. I wanted him to have fun, but it felt “weird” not to be going along as well. Not being there to make sure he made his connecting flight, get something to eat, etc. I was so happy when he came home. I am not looking forward to an empty nest when he leaves for college. What can I say, I LOVE being a mom. Best job I ever had and with wonderful benefits.

  447. I know exactly how you are feeling. I was crying right along with you. My last child just went away to college and the house is very quiet.
    They do have a way of becoming rather independent of us.

  448. Amen to this post. Having watched my own two going off on adventures – sometimes with friends, and more scary, alone, I can sympathize. We tried to bring them up according to this motto, “Your children need two things – roots and wings.”
    Congratulations, Steph. I think you did good on BOTH parts.

  449. Wonderful!
    If Amanda needs anything in Brisbane, she can look to me for help.
    My daughter has been in difficult situations in various countries and has needed help. I’m happy to pay back or forward as necessary.
    Bonnie in Brisbane

  450. I feel your pain all to well. Cheer up, it could be worse. Be thankful Australia is not a third world country and she’ll be able to drink the water. My DS decided to spend a year (way too long) in CHINA, the other side of the planet.

  451. Oh I can SO identify with this!
    Mine was only eighteen (eeek) and wanted to go wandering round Australia, grape picking, doing whatever, hanging out for six months or so. And he did. And he came back again all in one piece.
    Be strong!

  452. One of my children went off to Antarctica (yes, Antarctica!!!!) for a whole year. (Yes, a WHOLE year!!) He met his future wife there. Now they are back in the states, and are having a baby in a month. So I waved him off for one short year, and now I get a grandchild forever. It all works out in the end. You’ll see.

  453. My mom said, Train them ,trust them ,turn them loose and the last is the hardest part. My babies are 30 and 33 year old men and that same connection is still there. You are so right parenting is what you said. Now here comes the grandson. πŸ™‚

  454. Crap . . . now I’m teary eyed-again. I just packed my only two off for their first year at university. The first two days were fine, the third? Saw an infant in the grocery store, got misty-eyed, realized I missed a call from one of the girls and lost it . . . in a grocery store.

  455. All I can say is Amen Sister! I packed my (newly) 18 year old off to live with the bf, get a job and go to school 3 months ago. Now every time I get to see her and we have to part SHE cries! How screwed up is that? This was all HER idea!

  456. How are your books selling in Australia? Any chance of a tour there? Then you could just happen to be in the country and stop and see Amanda….. Not because you needed to or anything, but just because you happened to be nearby. (I admit it might look a tiny bit suspicious.)

  457. Your Amanda sounds so much like my Amy. She went to Mexico at age 13, London at age 15 and is now living in Sherbrooke Quebec and I won’t see her til Christmas either. This past summer she was debating working with some sort of elephant sanctuary in Tailand. I actually said out loud most of the things that you thought. In the end, I know I’ve done a good job, as have you obviously. We’ve raised very self assured and independent young women.

  458. When my daughter left for the first time (yes, there have been many, many other times) at age 16, I didn’t change her bed until the day before she returned. Her scent lingered on the sheets the whole year she was gone and when I missed her acutely (which I did many, many times)I laid down on the bed and breathed her in. Take a deep breath, mother hen. You did your job, even if it is totally f***ed.

  459. I’ve been wondering why you haven’t been blogging as much as usual. What an incredible summer you have had. My advice – from a mom who watched her daughter move to Korea!!! for a year and a half – get Skype!! It is a wonderful invention, it is free, and you can see your girl once or more a week. It was a lifesaver – not to mention saving me from dissolving into a pile of goo from the separation!!! Best wishes!!

  460. S: Thanks so much for sharing your mum experiences. It is as close as I’ll ever get to parenting. And I luv that you make me cry. I suspect that your ability to let go now will only pay back priceless rewards in the future.

  461. Stephanie, I understand completely! I have no advice to give you, and even if I did I would not offer it because each of us deals with life’s ‘challenges’ differently, and any way, sometimes advice can feel like a pain in the arse! (you get my meaning) I remember each of the moving away moments, some of them the tiniest of moves and others much larger: day school, kindergarten, high school, driving, college (and not just freshman year but also senior year when I realized that she was a senior (duh!) and would not be coming home to live any longer), married, and now at 28 having a baby in 2 months. Each and every time I felt lost, like I was loosing something so important that I could hardly bear it, and each time I came around to a new place in my life and hers. Right now she lives 30 minutes away but who knows how long that will last, and the thought of that move breaks my heart and brings me to inconsolable tears. It passes. I probably sound terribly melodramatic here, and like I don’t have a life and am glued to my daughter. Au contraire, we each have very full lives, and a bond that has been tested and will continue to be tested through the years but will never be broken. Hugs to you, Stephanie

  462. It’s amazing watching your children grow. And durn you if you didn’t make me cry and go hug my 5 and 9 y/o daughters. I SO get it. It totally sucks big time. All you can hope is one of them sticks somewhere close around and continues to keep you in their life. How pathetic is that?????

  463. We would LOVE to have you come to Australia! Obviously, we need a Sock Summit of our own to bribe you with – maybe we should keep Amanda until you agree to come over πŸ˜‰ Tell her to come to Melbourne – we’re MUCH nicer than Sydney!
    (Oh, and annadownya? Some Australians are NOT descended from convicts. My ancestors were free settlers and also of Aboriginal heritage as well. As I recall, the English sent convicts to the Americas when they were under colonial rule as well. Don’t think that we’re not sick to death of the convict jokes, because we really really are.)

  464. If it’s any consolation, my parents just dropped me off in Ontario, probably for the next 2-3 years. They’re feeling what you’re feeling. Don’t forget though, no matter how much fun we kids are having off on our adventures, we still miss home and our parents. πŸ™‚

  465. Oh Wonderful Harlot Mom –
    I am the daughter of a woman who no doubt had a similar wrenching experience. My family lives in the Bahamas, and I know full well that my mother will never leave. I am the oldest, living in Ontario Canada with my own family. One brother is about to marry and live in Milan, Italy. The baby of the family (20) has yet to decide. But there is very little chance of any of us missing the holidays together. To heck with the presents, food or decorations. I travel all those miles to see my family. And I know full well that with the bedrooms overflowing with luggage and the hampers suddenly overflowing with laundry, my mother wouldn’t have it any other way.
    And some day, neither will I.

  466. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh?
    So do this. Put all of your worries for your precious child on a post it note. OK, a big piece of paper. Put every neurotic fear you have for her. Cover the whole damn paper with them.
    Have a beer. Have another beer if you feel you need another beer. Or wine.
    Now go out into the back yard on a calm evening with a ceramic bowl and a book of matches. Wad the paper up and set it on fire. Watch that sucker burn along with all of your fears for her.
    Somewhere in that pile is the light that you have given her all of those years. She is carrying that light with her to embark on her own adventures. She knows that if she can live with a mom that can do amazing, whacko things, she certainly can do it too.
    Be proud.

  467. Ah the irony of parenthood. If you do a really good job, you are likely to end up with a young adult who is a pleasure to spend time with. But such an interesting young adult is also likely to want to travel & see the world. So you don’t get to spend time with them. It doesn’t get any easier when they get older – in fact, it can get harder as they acquire interesting people in their lives, like spouses & children who you also miss when they move across the country.

  468. I love that she has a sock! And yes, I do think this might be the year for a book tour in Oz.

  469. How did our parents ever let us go anywhere??? I went to Germany as an exchange student back in 1980, when I was 18. How the heck did my parents not hang onto me with both hands? How did they let me go so far away, trusting me not to (a) do something really stupid, (b) fall off some random cliff somewhere, or (c) get in some serious trouble somehow? I, too, think parenting is f***ed, and if we’re lucky, our darlings survive, prosper, and come back from their adventures wonderful, well-rounded people with an expanded view of the world.
    Good luck to both you and your lovely daughter in your new adventure!

  470. Well she will be just fine. If she comes to south west Victoria, Great Ocean Road area, I’ll keep my eyes open for her. Let’s face it, if you don’t want to holiday in Canada, Australia is the next best thing. I know I would be happy for my girls to go to Canada. They already love “real” Maple Syrup with pancakes and bacon. Our humour is understood and vice versa. Mind you our weather here in Vic. at the moment is bloody cold, wet and windy. Only the farmers are happy. No drought. Good luck to her and we hope she loves our place.

  471. I have to admit, I teared up a little….And I’m a daughter.
    Maybe I’m starting to understand why my mother is always edgy after my sister calls from over 800 miles away…

  472. I’ve got 3 daughters, too. 17, 12 and 8. The eight year old? A surprise. Best surprise ever. Keeps me being a hands on mom a few extra years. I feel your anxiety, pain, optimism. She’ll be fine. You’ll write me back in a year when my 17 year old is off to college–as far away from us as possible according to her– right?

  473. Oh, but wait. Did you get your passport renewed? Is not getting it renewed the way you convinced yourself you couldn’t go with her and hold her hand all the way there for 4 months?
    Yeah, I know how you feel. Did that when we dropped my son at college a few years back. Now he’s got a business, lives in Miami Beach, has a lovely wife and a sweet little son. See — it works out that you get more people to knit for, even if they live where it’s hot much of the time.

  474. When I went to Nepal for six months at age 19, I thought my mom was crazy for being afraid that I was not coming home, or going to die, or something like that. Having lived there, I understand that no matter how far you are from family (that distance includes the way you are living) you are still living and still you and still part of your family – perhaps more alive even, since your life slows down with all the new.
    BUT I have a three-year-old now. Earlier this summer I put her and her father on a plane and watched them take off to go across the country. And despite my relief to have a break from “why, why, why?” and a chance to get to know her little sister a bit better — now I get it. So you’re saying it gets harder? Or should we keep practicing at this sending them off into the world thing, so that when the big sendoffs happen we are good at pretending we’re delighted?

  475. I know how you feel. One of hardest things to remember as a parent is that we are actually raising ADULTS, not children. And, that as parents, we will know our children far longer as adults than as children. The goal is to raise people we would like to be friends with, people who are fun to hang out with — not dependent, whiny, difficult people. Sometimes in the course of raising wonderful adults, we encounter things, habits, etc. that are difficult to tolerate in children. Usually, these are the traits we most admire and like in our friends.
    Sounds like you have done a good job. Let her know you love her and then let her go.

  476. Roots and wings, says a friend of mine, Roots and Wings are what a good parent gives a child.
    My son went to Hong Kong. Then he came back. Then Ireland. Then he came back. Then Japan. Then he came back — and pretty soon he’ll go off again. So will Amanda, both go off and come back again, and then go off again. That’s what they do. Good luck. Take a deep breath. Roots and Wings, Roots and Wings, Roots and Wings.

  477. Just remembering the email I got a couple years ago from Peru. It’s kind of cool to be in an earthquake. Why do our kids do that to us? We just want them to be strong, independent, self-sufficient, etc; across the street, not the planet. You did send empty luggage for the fiber she is bringing you for Christmas, didn’t you?

  478. It’s the invisible bond that you mentioned. And it lasts longer than your whole life. I lost my mother in December. I cry when I read your posts about your daughters, because I know you are describing all the feelings my mother had as I grew up. My mother wasn’t a knitter, and she was different from you in so many ways, but when you write about your daughters, it is like I hear my mother talking to me, saying…”See… that’s what I felt about you and your brother.” Thanks for sharing.

  479. i don’t know how you can literally make me laugh & cry at the same time.
    i know your pain, my sons were United States Marines. my daughter also went (for 3 weeks) from Los Angles to Hong Kong for her job. it’s hell to have them so far away. you just hope they remember every warning you ever told them! LOL

  480. When I was 18 I moved to Paris for 6 months. For the first couple of weeks my parents called every day and asked me to talk to the dog because he was on a hunger strike because of my departure. Yup, transatlantic phone calls so the dog would eat. So tell me, do you really think the dog wasn’t eating? Yea, I don’t think so either. I bet they felt as you did and didn’t want me to know, but knew the dog would keep their secret. I’ll remember this for when my 20 month old decides to listen to his mother and go see the world.

  481. You’re sending her to Australia for the summer? Does she like 87% humidity? At Christmas? heh heh
    She’ll probably love it. I hope she’ll be able to travel around and see a lot of …. yarn shops.
    Penny at 7:18pm – I have never heard of those bitey marsupial mice. Do you think we should warn her about Drop Bears?

  482. As if you didn’t do an awesome job raising one very intelligent woman. She’ll be fine and in four months you’ll be telling us how miffed you are because she didn’t need your help once and who does she think she is being all fabulous?
    P.S Totally missed reading you.

  483. Motherhood: The only job in the world where your goal is to put yourself out of business. And I don’t think it ever works. At least that’s what MY mother says.

  484. oh you poor thing! my mom could commiserate, I’m sure. I left South Africa for the USA when I was 18 and was planning on being gone for a year and it’s been 9 already, ten in January.
    Skype is a wonderful thing for staying in touch and seeing faces.

  485. I’m from Australia and I’m 22, so If i see her I will make sure she’s called you at least once that week and has a decent map with her. I don’t know what part of Australia she’s going to? I’d love to bump into her and say, oh thank-goodness you’re alright, your mums blogging her anxiety again hehe and show her the sights. I’ll even take a sock photo!

  486. JosephineInOZ – I think they are the mighty Antechinus, I’m not sure which species – I’ll have to ask my husband who passed this information on to me. I hope he wasn’t just teasing me, otherwise I’ve just started a new urban myth! Drop bears out of the question !
    cheers p

  487. It is so awesome that she can’t go anywhere on this planet without running into knitters that will watch out for her. It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling. : )

  488. I understand perfectly – Australia – who wouldn’t worry. Now if she’d gone to a civilised place say like Finland you wouldn’t have to worry.

  489. She will be quite safe and very happy in Australia.
    I hope you have sent her off with a list of wool shops to inspect.
    If she wants to do a little stop off in NZ ..give me a yell..she is more than welcome at my house :))
    We have sheep here too . !
    Nicky in NZ

  490. I would be more than delighted to keep my eyes open for your girl. Yep, parenting is sure such hard work – my boy started school this year and it was hard (although he coped just fine, I don’t think I did).
    She will have a great time in this beautiful country.

  491. When I was 20, I headed off to Australia and NZ for an undetermined amount of time. As a Canadian I was entitled to something called a working holiday visa for Australia, which meant I could work, but I also had the means to support myself. I planned and saved for my big adventure for a long time. My parents were avid travelers and endorsed my plans wholeheartedly, although they must have had the same misgivings at the point of departure. They drove me to the airport and everything was cool until it was time to say good bye, whereupon I burst into tears and said don’t leave me standing here crying. They hugged me and said good bye and walked away. Looking back on it I realize it must have been gut wrenching to leave me there like that and yet very brave of them as well.
    And I tell you this on the morning that I drive my 19 year old from PA, to Pembroke to start the next phase of his life.
    My mom who is 87 now told me quite recently that the goodbyes never get any easier no matter how old she gets. I believe her.

  492. Parenting sucks.
    And frankly, a bit back, I was really pissed at my Mom. My oldest daughter moved out and is starting to live her own life . . . we are blessed, she moved about 40 minutes away . . . not hours or that we have to take a plane to see her . . . BUT, my Mom lied. She told me all about sleepless nights (when they were babies and teens), she told me about exhaustion and vomiting and parent/teacher conferences and getting “THE LOOK” but she never told me about the gut wrenching pain of letting go. Piss on it . . . its always going to hurt.

  493. Stephanie, this post is so very well written! Here you’ve lured us into believing that you are simply a knitter.
    Throughout childhood, my mom told me that she raised me to move out. I believed that until my 20th birthday. On that day, I received a card pointing out that it was the first birthday we’d ever spent apart. Thinking about it still makes me cry and I’m now 41.

  494. Hi I so totally know how you feel and it sucks!! My eldest son has just returned to Washington DC after a week visiting here in NZ. The first time I have seen him in 6 years !!! I miss him so… boys are not good letter writers. ( At least mine isn’t)
    I was going to come to Portland for the sock convention but he announced he was arriving home just before then so had to stay at home. Now he has a new job as assistant professor at Pittsburgh University and I am like sooooo proud of him but guess this means he is not returning home anytime soon.. πŸ™
    I am busy saving and planning a trip , hopefully next year to see him … but its not the same as having him at least in the same town..sigh!
    I hope Amanda has a great time…I am sure she will be safe…
    [[[hugs]]] from one left behind mum to another

  495. I know how hard this is. My daughter left in March to become a nun. So, I’ve done a GREAT job with her . . . BUT . . . it just sucks, and what a creep I am for saying so. No way for a Mom to win here. Cheers!!

  496. Oh I know the feeling. Our middle progeny is spending the fall semester studying in Uganda. I mean UGANDA! Couldn’t she have picked a place like England or someplace easier to get to. We won’t see her until December 23rd.

  497. Oh my…I’m so teary just reading this. I can’t imagine my boys
    (who are still young boys) leaving yet I hope they do someday. It’s a wonderful experience and one I had as well. You’re such a good mama for letting her go…and not letting her see you cry.

  498. Oh my…I’m so teary just reading this. I can’t imagine my boys
    (who are still young boys) leaving, yet I hope they do someday. It’s a wonderful experience and one I had as well. You’re such a good mama for letting her go…and for not letting her see you cry. Good luck!

  499. try doing it the other way around. My husband and i ran away from home for a year to go teach in China. and left the kids behind. Number one daughter announced she was expecting as we left. So i wasn’t able to be here for her. But life continues – bady came, all weell and her mother-in-law was able to cement bonds with Chris and the baby – all worked out as the universe decided it should. Just a “little” guilt on my part

  500. Well said, Stephanie.
    The Beavis will be home for 3 more years, and after that it’s off to College — which I think he is planning on being far, far away. While I am immensely proud of his gumption and drive, I seriously don’t want him to be more than 20 minutes away from me — ever. He’s just too fun to hang out with. πŸ™‚

  501. I totally relate to what you’re going through. My oldest daughter sent me your posting so I would be sure to read it. She did the same to me heading off to Ireland, then traveling Europe, (by herself!!!) for a month. Final result? I can now just follow her through the subways of NYC as we make our way to a bookstore to see the Yarn Harlot! I had no clue where we were at nor did I worry about it! Hang in there. You did good.

  502. This post was so touching it made me cry at the end! I’m here sitting at my desk at work bawling my eyes out while laughing my ass off at the irony!
    Just thinking about my little girl (who’s only 2 by the way) and who I love dearly and can’t imagine ever leaving my side. Then remembering my dreams of MOVING permanently to Australia and not even batting an eye at my mom’s upheaval at the thought. I didn’t end up there but still, now I wonder about my own little precocious tyke. I hope I remember your post when that day comes. Lovely words, spoken like a true mama πŸ™‚

  503. Oh, my gosh! You exactly wrote about my experience in sending my son to Taiwan 2 years ago and he hasn’t come back yet. It was so incredibly painful to let him go, but really, how do you tell an adult child they can’t? I know it’s good for him, I know he’s having an amazing adventure, I know he’s doing well, but damn! Do I ever miss him! I visited with him for 2 weeks last October and I think I squeezed him for 10 minutes straight when I arrived at the airport. Leaving again was heartbreak all over. It’s just not right! How can they leave us after all we’ve done for them? (kidding, sort of)

  504. I laughed at this posting. It’s definitely a conundrum. Be proud and happy sending them off. Be proud and happy sending them off whilst being acutely jealous. Or all of the above with a lot of trepidation thrown in. I sent my barely 14 year old off to Japan for two weeks of an exchange program last year. She came back a different person. Completely confident and full of desires to travel the globe. I have no doubt she will cram as much travel into her life as possible. My problem with the whole thing is that I didn’t get to experience it with her; to watch her face as she saw all the new sites and a brand new culture. Up till now, I’ve been there every step of the way. Who knows, maybe it will be easier sending her off to college after that. Yeah, right!

  505. It was just a few days ago, as I was putting my youngest to bed, that I came to the shocking and horrifying realization that my children will live OUT IN THE WORLD for a much, much longer period of time than they will LIVE AT HOME. This was a truly f***ed up bit of cold hardt truth and I’m still reeling at the idea of it.
    On the other hand, you’ve done so many things well for her that she feels that this was/is a good idea and my guess is she will THRIVE!
    Now, go have a pint…or two!

  506. I just sent my kid off to his first day of Kindergarten yesterday and I was not able to let out the cathartic cry I needed to move on because I had to go and shmooze at a parent coffee afterward. I was hoping that I could watch a sad tv commercial or something to get me going, but all efforts fell flat. Thank you, thank you for your post today. I had my good cry thanks to you and I feel oh so much better and a tiny bit readier to move on with my life. I know I will have more of these times ahead of me, since my kid is only 5 and I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in thinking that my kid is the greatest kid in the world and also that parenting is, indeed, f**ked.

  507. I am totally crying…I agree, parenting is pretty effed up in all the ways afore mentioned …. and bless her heart she has a sock… and also… I wish I had gone down under when I was 20.

  508. I saw this on two blogs I read and it made me feel so guilty because last year I did this to my mom! My husband and I flew all the way for a YEAR to the United Arab Emirates and with our 20 month old. I knew my mom was crushed even though I knew we had her support.
    But I emailed her every single day (save a travelig day here or there) and we talked on the computer or phone every single weekend. I feel alot closer to her now.
    And now we are home. Just a month now. And I know my Mom is happier for it. We are still 1.5 hours north of her but that is better than half way around the world.
    I hope these months go quickly for you. The Fall always seems to be the quickest time of year and think how extra exciting christmas will be this year! xx

  509. while I agree with much of what’s been said, I would like to say that it’s not a failure if your kids do end up living close by, and it’s not wrong teach them to feel ( a little bit!) responsible and caring towards their parents. Family is so important in this non-connected, do-as-you-please culture we live in today

  510. Oh, Steph! My head was nodding as I read your post; my wee girl (she’s almost 18, but still my wee girl) went on a 3 month exchange to Germany last winter, and I felt exactly the same. Glad that she felt so confident that she could go across an entire ocean, away from her family (read: her mommy)for that long, and be really excited about it all. I worried about everything; the flight, the language issues, her German family, her new school, getting lost on the train system, everything. I felt better, and worse, when we talked on the phone; I was glad to hear what she was experiencing in Germany, and that she was enjoying herself, but I wanted to crawl through the line and pull her back to Canada! It was the longest 3 months of my life! But she came back an even more confident person; she proved to herself that she could get lost in Berlin and find her way home without her mom. (gulp) It’s hard to be handed a baby, told that she is now your responsibility, keep her safe, fed and warm, and then to have to let go. Someone told me once that from the moment of birth, you as a parent are slowly being fired from your job; they need you less and less every day, until they don’t need you (at least on a day to day basis) anymore. It’s not easy, huh? You’re not alone in this, we all feel your pride and pain. Try to dwell more on the pride bit. πŸ˜‰ xo

  511. It is always so amazing to me to find so many like minds here. I just read Jessica’s post and I must second it — except that my daughter is not five, she is 24. She now lives two hours away, which is okay. But she is talking about moving to another part of the country now, while she is young and without the burden of obligations. And it wasn’t until I read this blog that I realized what it will mean to me.

  512. Re Parenting.
    Sorry to tell you Stephanie, it can get worse. My story echos yours exactly, given Japan for Australia. Seven years later she’s married and living in Toronto. Not a bad outcome for you, but I live in the UK. Toronto is a lovely place. Buy a beer etc for Victoria!
    Ann Clare

  513. Oh, yes, I left home after raising money and traveled to Costa Rica when I was 22 years old. My mom took me all over to get a passport, youth hostel card, and various items. It never occurred to me how hard it must have been for her. My parents did ask, “Why do you have to do this?” and I replied, “….because I can!” And so I left, with both my parents waving and pretending to be happy for me, but now as a parent I know when that day comes it will be so so traumatic to wave goodbye to my children. But I also know that my trip to Costa Rica taught me about 7 degrees of separation, how things always work out (maybe not as planned), how to think ahead, that wherever you go there you are, and I met wonderful and interesting people from all over the world, and I did some pretty cool stuff like work at a turtle reserve tagging leather back turtles. I arrived in CR with no place to stay and not really any plans except places I wanted to see, and I found my way (with rusty high-school spanish speaking skills), budgeted my money and had an EXCELLENT adventure, and I came back alive and with a new and improved self!
    That trip is a memory I cherish and it makes me feel like I have really lived! And now my kids love to see the photos, and hear the story about the volcano I watched erupt!

  514. Hi Harlot
    Just a quick bit of reasurence, I went to OZ this year, and am going again next year, (my husband has family over there), and I can say that in the whole six weeks that we were there we were completely overwhelmed by how open, friendly, and nice the Aussie peolple were. Yes, I know there are exceptions to every rule, but really if you going to pick a country to have an adventure in, you couldn’t do much better than the amazing and wonderful conutry of Oz,and I’m sure Amanda will have a truly fabulous time, and be well looked after by all the folks down under. Dawn

  515. Gillian went to Australia for six months a few years ago and that was my main reaction. SIX WHOLE MONTHS without setting eyes on her and the time difference didn’t make it easy to keep in contact, and the knowledge that she would (and did) come back a different woman weighed on me a little. It was great though. I learned we could both do it.
    Now Meg might have an opportunity to do Tokyo for 4-6 months. Our relationship is a little different at this point. Is it wrong that I have my fingers and toes crossed? πŸ˜‰

  516. Dearest Stephanie,
    Did the same thing this summer, except it was the trip to Europe. Now, this same child did Argentina and Chile last summer, but it was for school, and at least we have in-law types in Chile, who could come and rescue her…but Europe???? Not a soul (unless you count an ex-roomie of my son’s…and I don’t. He’s unmarried and French :)) I think what really did it was the conversation she was having on the phone, when I heard Amsterdam and Absinthe mentioned in the same sentence. I immediately called the head of our group, and put him on notice that, if in the next few weeks I received a “drunk call” from Amsterdam, I was getting on the very next plane from Dallas, whether they had room for me or not!
    (P.S. She arrived home after 6 weeks, completely unscathed. I did raise her, after all! Some sense had to rub off!)

  517. I’m all misty now. You are very brave and so NOT a control freak or she’d be there with you now. I hope she has a great time. =)

  518. There’s a wonderful song performed by the Minstrels of Mayhem called “Eye of the Dove” about giving wings to fly. Worth a listen if you can find it.
    And as a child who has thus flown, I am unendingly thankful for everyone who has given me the strength and support (whether they really meant it or not) to do so. You’re a wonderful Mum with wonderful (lucky) kids.

  519. I raised sons and my only requirement was for them to be able to support themselves and anyone else that came along before they left. They are wonderful husbands with great wives and children. And thank god I do not have to worry about what they are getting into their wives do. Now I can knit in my pajamas whenever I want to.

  520. One of the hardest posts of yours I’ve ever read. What a heart warming story. I so relate as my children are the same age as yours. I have two that moved out in a month and while they didn’t go half way around the world, it’s hard not seeing them everyday.
    She will be fine and the Aussie contingent will take good care of her. Have a beer and relax. It’s all good.

  521. See, what you need to do: plan on “helping” her come back home. I got a lovely trip to Italy that way. A wonderful post.

  522. I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL. I am in California my daughter is also in Australia. She went to work in London for 1 year which turned into 2. Then met a Londoner going to Australia. Now they are married living in Australia. And some days I think why did I get up and send her to school. Preach you can do anything you want and be anything you want to be. Paid for collage. Just to be left behind. But it is thier lives and we are proud of who they grow up to be. And we did a good job even thou some days we dont think so.

  523. Whoa. You totally channeled my mum the first time I flew somewhere alone. I had to change planes in O’Hare and she instructed me not to look or smile at any male. Growl at them, maybe? But that may just be my interpretation. What did I do, instead? Went to the baggage claim looking for Hare Krishnas.
    She freaked out when I flew to Siberia at the tender age of 20, too. Will I do this when my 7 year old sprouts wings? Eek! At least you get merino.

  524. Oh good for her! When I was 20, in Massachusetts, the most exotic place I’d ever been was Toronto!
    I always dreamed of going to Australia, England and Scotland. I made it to England and Scotland, thanks to my son, who had lived there for 3 years, when I was 51! Still waiting to get to Australia.
    But good for you too! I watched 4 sons leave home to live pieces of their lives without me. They all are better men for the experiences.
    Write real letters not just emails -it makes a difference.

  525. OK, I really appreciate what you’re saying Stephanie. It is so hard to let our babies fly the nest. But, please be grateful that she can. I don’t mean to be a great sob sister, but my 28 year old daughter has metastatic ovarian cancer which she has been dealing with for four years and now can barely leave the house for chemotherapy much less travel. Nine months ago she was working and hanging out with her friends and planning to move to San Diego. And I was grieving that move. Now she lives with us and I would give anything for her to be that dynamic, independent woman she was.
    Having said that, I wish Amanda all the adventures she can handle. What a wonderful time in her life.

  526. Life is a good adventure! I am not yet a mother and a little older than your daughter. I had a similar experience when I was about her age. You learn things that you never would when you are away from home. Very important things. Be proud of her, that she has the courage to travel. She will gain even more courage by being away from home. I know I did and it has been one of the greatest virtues a single woman can have. It will get her far in life. And the good thing is that she can always come back and will. Take it easy, Mama!

  527. As a single parent with only one child, who goes to his dad’s every other weekend, I am in awe of those of you who have gone thru this more than once, as I can’t imagine the what it will be like! And done it gracefully.
    We are stronger than we know, to create these little beings and then launch them into the wider world, but it is indeed hard to smile and wave as they head away from us.

  528. I just put my youngest son on a plane to Washington State – we live in Florida. Absolutely the worst day. My husband and I cried like babies all the way home from the airport; then we had several adult beverages.

  529. I totally agree with you — parenting is screwed up! My beautiful 18-year-old left for a month to help build a school in Uganda. He is strong, independent, caring, perfect really, and out of touch for most of five weeks in a small village in Africa. I said good-bye at the airport, didn’t shed a tear until he passed through the security gates, then holy crap, I sobbed all the way home and pretty much for 24 hours. Don’t think I slept much for a month either. He came back a couple of weeks ago, thrilled with his trip, no lion bites or horrible diseases and can’t wait to go again. AGAIN?! I sure hope it gets easier.

  530. Hurrah, Amanda!! Have a wonderful time! (is that her sock or your sock :P)
    My mom cried when I went to Germany for two weeks in high school and then she cried when I went to England for three days (and that was only two years ago – I’m 31 now). I think she’d agree with you about parenting.

  531. You want to talk about f****d? My son decided going on drugs was the right thing to do, even though he had about as perfect an upbringing as a kid could have. Then you really wonder why you had kids. I wish he were going off to Australia and I had your problems. I’m sorry – I don’t mean to belittle you. I’m just heartily agreeing – parenting is f****d.

  532. I so understand your situation. On Sunday I am putting my 18 year old on a plane to Singapore where he will be off on an 112 foot sailboat studying for the next 90 days. My worries are sharks and pirates and capsizing and things of that nature. But I to will put on a brave face and tell my baby to have the time of his life and that I love him. Then I will go have that beer or two.

  533. I’m an Australian living in Canada about to give birth to my first child. Firstly, where does it say in the pregnancy books that parenting is f*****d?! I’ve been duped!!! πŸ˜‰ Secondly, don’t worry about the poisonous creepy crawlies – 20-odd million Aussies manage to stay alive every year despite them (of course it helps if you move to Canada but I did manage to stave them off for 35 or so years…). Anyway, as we say in Australia, “She’ll be right, mate.” And so will you. You are both being the brave and wonderful women you hoped you’d be.

  534. I copied this into a wordprocessing document so I can put in it my son’s suitcase when he leaves for France. I copied it because I cannot say it any better than you have AND because since I didn’t write it, someone else did, it will give credence to an 18 year old boy. He is only leaving for 2 weeks with a class trip with an awesome ( and a hunk) French instructor. It matters not that this instructor could without doubt handle any student problem, kill with one hand and be compassionate at the next turn – I will totally, painfully and happily worry my butt off and be thrilled for my son. When you think marriage is the hardest thing you’ve ever done, you get kids and realize that life is now 17 billion times harder.

  535. This entry really touched my heart, so much that I cried a bit along with you. Happy Trails to your girl!

  536. I’m in Australia, I’ll keep an eye out for the girl with the sock:)
    Know how you feel, and also know how you’ll feel if she meets some bloke, decides to get married and have 4 babies and never come home….this is what my daughter did, 15 years ago, she only went for 4 months too, to the US. Oh darn, I thought I was ok with it all by now, but my goodness, I have a big pain in my heart and am crying buckets.
    It’s so not fair when you grow them up to be independent and strong, and darn it, they go and live it somewhere else.
    Btw, she’ll have a wonderful time here in Oz πŸ™‚

  537. I am nursing my 9 week old baby girl and howling like – well – a baby while reading this.My parents taught me that travel is one of the best educations in life and I learnt the lesson well. You probably don’t want to know that I married an Aussie and now I live in Melbourne with him and our 3 kids. My (70 year old!) mother continues to provide the travel example by splitting her year between us and the U.S. She gets perpetual summer and our children get to know their Grandma – but I’m beginning to see where all this could lead…… Seriously, until now it never occurred to me that my children would actually follow my example. Oh no! I AM AN IDIOT.
    Excuse me, just popping out to lock the front door and throw away the key.

  538. Steph,
    I understand completely. In June, my 18 year old oldest daughter went off to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. I’m in NY. It’s really tough watching them go that far away, even. I can’t picture Austrailia.
    But, tomorrow, I’m flying to CO for Parent’s Weekend, and my first glimpse of my baby since the 24th of June. Can’t wait!
    You can do it!

  539. I hear you…My then 21 year old baby-girl went off for a semester in Ozzieland as well. She had a fabulous time, grew more strong and confident and had wonderful experiences. And I missed her. But hey! aren’t there lots of sheep down under? Tell her to make herself useful and find you some nice Ozzie yarn!

  540. I cried reading it, remembering each time my eldest 3 left home…I have one more to go and she’s my only daughter…somehow I know I will handle it better for reading this post!

  541. Can you please stop posting things that make me cry? My hormones runneth over. Thanks.
    But, seriously… love the post (as always).

  542. You are such a good story teller. I am sitting in my chair, watching a baseball game, reading how parenting is (which I totally agree with) and suddenly, I get tears in my eyes and running down my cheeks, sniffling…You’re good.
    By the way, when I went to Australia, my mom thought that was as far away from her as I could get (she’s in Buffalo,NY). I loved Australia so much but eventually, came home.

  543. My 23 year old daughter is currently enrolled in graduate school. When she graduates with her master’s next spring, she plans to spend 2 years in the Peace Corps. Who knows where she will be placed? I am full of angst already. She says I make her anxious and afraid to go anywhere. I want her to have a wonderful experience and I am proud to have raised a daughter so willing to serve others. I just have a hard time knowing the distance that will be between us. So, I have printed your post for her to read. You say everything I feel, but am unable to say as eloquently. Thank you.

  544. I will look out for her and make sure she is doing ok πŸ™‚
    My mum let me go to south america when i was 15. Only now, in my mid 20s do i realise how hard that must have been for her. She still cries when I go away. But she loves my stories.
    Trust that she will make the right decisions. You raised her that way.

  545. Oh my goodness.
    I don’t even have children yet and your post made me well up!
    I cannot imagine the tremendous emotional demands raising your children places on you – for life!
    It is a gift but what a price.
    Take care of Amanda Aussie Knitters!!

  546. Oh my goodness.
    I don’t even have children yet and your post made me well up!
    I cannot imagine the tremendous emotional demands raising your children places on you – for life!
    It is a gift but what a price.
    Take care of Amanda, Aussie Knitters!!

  547. Oh my!!!
    That’s exactly what I did to my poor mother at 20yo!
    Now I have 2 beautiful daughters who are speeding through their lives and leaving me for dust πŸ™‚
    God….why did I marry a Scotsman so they have both British and Aussie passports!
    We’ll look out for her…we love Canadians Down Under.
    Mel.x

  548. i agree with you in so many ways. and i thought enrolling my daughter in grade prep this morning was hard!
    i will look out for your girl too….im an amanda in australia πŸ™‚

  549. Right after I graduated university, I ditched my family for 3+ months in Central America. It was the single most maturing experience in my life, and now that I’m older, I’ll tell you that it will still be worth the parental stress when you see what she’s like when you come back.
    My trip was cut short by 2 weeks when the US invaded Kuwait for the first Gulf War, which tells you how old I am!

  550. It’s so tough to say goodbye and really let go, but she’s learned from the best and she’ll do great!! I said goodbye to my 22 year old son and his buddies as they left Vancouver to drive across to Halifax, where, if the winter doesn’t scare them back this way, they will be until next summer. Christmas without him, his birthday celebrated without his family…..but a bushel full of fantastic experiences await him as they do you’re sweet daughter.

  551. She’s welcome to stay with us… Australia is amazing and yes lots of poisonous things, but not as rife as one might thing. I’m 31 and seen only a handful of those nasties. My baby brother who is all of 19 is fighting in afghanistan and I’d rather he be here with red back spiders and brown snakes to contend with anyday.

  552. My eldest daughter went travelling for 3 months including Australia at Christmas when she was 23. She had a fantastic time, learning the life skills we couldn’t teach her. All my children have now left home to live elsewhere, and only one of them is close enough to see regularly. I miss them, but I read somewhere that when you have children, you are only borrowing them for 18 years! Sad, but true!
    Amanda will be fine.

  553. At least she has picked a pretty awesome country to come visit. She’ll love it here!
    But I do hear you, and my little one is only 19 months old. Three months ago, my very long term partner and great love decided to walk out and leave me – with no notice and no real reason. After we chose to have and raise a family together. Now, not only do I have to do most of the parenting myself, but I have to share this precious babe with someone I can now barely bring myself to look at. And as much as it kills me, I have to bloody do it because that’s the bugger about parenting. It’s not about me is it. Poo!
    I’m having a hard time letting go, and am yet to agree to overnight visits. It’s killing me. I thought I had another 17-18 years or so before I had to really let go.
    it’s f*(&ed, that’s for sure

  554. My heart goes out to you! My 17 year old is in grade 12 this year and I’m trying to be brave about the inevitable departure for university next year. I’m secretly keeping a journal for her of all the advice I’m afraid I haven’t drilled into her yet and I plan to give it to her after she graduates.
    Oh well chin up! We’ll just soldier on….

  555. I feel for you! It wasn’t until I had my own kids that I started wondering HOW IN THE WORLD my parents put me on a plane for Kathmandu when I was 20. Or “allowed” my sister to spend a semester in Senegal at the same age. I have 17 years to get ready for that and I am guessing I still won’t be when it comes.
    Safe and happy travels to Amanda! And lots of yoga and knitting for you.

  556. Heh…I just had this issue this morning, but from the other side of it.
    My parents dropped me off here in Philly for school. They left at dawn o’clock in the morning. But, as they drove away, I saw my mom starting to cry in the car.
    And I’m only 800 miles away (Chicago native).

  557. My mom said she knew she had done a good job when I walked down the ramp to the plane and didn’t look back.

  558. My daughter left on Aug 27th for Adelaide, SA.
    She is 22 and doing an internship with sharks and molluscks and planctin for 4 months.
    What is your daughter doing in Australia and where will she be?
    I’m hoping that I’ll be able to go visit her during her last 10 days to share in her experience.
    I ALSO had a very hard time letting my daughter leave but I firmly believe that this is her time to shine and prove to us AND to her that she CAN DO THIS! I pray for her safety but we do have to resign ourselves to the many hours of parenting that we have done and hope that it ALL comes together for them. It does seem unfair that being a parent is a constant worry but I have to remind myself that you have to let them go and keep the faith. GOD BLESS ALL MOMS EVERYWHERE πŸ™‚

  559. I loved your post, i showed my Mum and she loved it too, there may have been tears at some of the comments. I did a similar thing to here in my gap year, at 18 i skipped off to Nepal for 3 months, I survived, had an amazing time and brought her back beautiful things and amazing stories, i cant wait to hear hers!

  560. Y’know we don’t bite… (but it wouldn’t matter where she was going, just that she is going away.) Here’s a bright spot – Amanda can buy some Patonyle that I didn’t dye for you!
    And she must must must must go to Melbourne, really. Really must – not that I am biassed. I’ll be back home for October. And Tasmania is fantastic too, though maybe not for a 20 year old πŸ™‚

  561. Bummer, mine is going into pre-school (yep old mom of 45 me.) I think our parents purposly don’t tell you this to feel their pain from us being kids. NOW YOU CAN FIX THAT DRATTED MITTEN11111

  562. I am going to print this (or copy and paste it) and send it to my sons who are currently living in Beijing and Dakar, Senegal. My daughter has returned from Peru and is now in the US. I am asked over and over again, “don’t you miss them?” (duh) or “why are they living there (and not in our town)?” I smile and say it is either because we did a marvelous job raising them to be independent or that they had a miserable childhood. Either way, it shuts people up. You are so right, parenting is effed up. She will be fine, you did a great job. Set up skype and enjoy her adventures. much love

  563. I’m doing the same thing to my mother! Except it’s New Zealand for 9 months. And I’ve been to England for 3.5 months. England was the best time of my life and Australia will be the same for her. You’re doing the right thing by her. And we understand if you cry. We don’t blame you.

  564. I kind of laughed and cried. She’ll be good and there is wonderful yarn down there! πŸ™‚

  565. This reminds me of a favorite quote:
    “If you love your child, send him (her) on a journey.” πŸ™‚

  566. This made me cry. My oldest is heading North (maybe BC, maybe Montreal, or maybe even Toronto actually – if she lands in Toronto can I ask you to drop off some chicken soup if she gets really sick?) around February, coming back in May for a month and then going away again and not coming back except for, you know, those grown up visits where you totally take a week out of your real life to go visit your mom who gets lonely when she doesn’t see you for the holidays.
    The whole thing is a racket, I tell you. Hang in there, mama.

  567. Dear Friend,
    You have hit this pretty much on the head! I sent my precious first born daughter to Italy one summer at age 20 to study Italian for an operatic degree. You would have to know this is a person who was given to making good choices and was wise for her age. Anyway my husband spoke to her BF (boyfriend) who was studying ancient mediterrean civilization also in Italy. The BF said he could find a place for “her” to stay; although grateful this gave birth to my husband meticulously outlining to him an understanding thru word pictures and sobering gestures that in fact “she” was a jewel to his heart and was irreplaceable! And should the BF allow anything to happen to “her” he would hold him completely responsible. The BF called a few days later to clarify he had found a room to let for her in a “convent”! And so it was! This is called international “control”.
    I want to publicallly confess that when “she” arrived in Italy and didn’t call for almost 36 hours I went totally to pieces and became out of control! When I finally heard from her I yelled at her over the phone; I may have even threatened her! It goes with parenting; one has to forgive one’s self for parenting, for becoming a parent and for acting like a child!
    On top of that you have to apologize alot too!
    I could not leave here without telling you it all gets worse! It’s all too true my dear. It’s called grandchildren (I have four); you will love them just like you love Amanda! (I can almost hear you screaming with labor pains). Just think about it! The ever stretching umbilical chord than can span a generation and a nation if necessary! Wait til someone glares at one of your GRANDchildren or worse yet YOU notice their shoes are worn out!
    All of your senses will be heightened as you get older and you’ll SEE everything and your heart will EXPLODE over these GRANDchildren. You see they are GRAND, more GRAND than you can imagine at this moment.
    Someone had to tell you! Sign me out of control in the midwest, Susan

  568. Hi Stephanie,
    Wow, I can’t help but feel bad because I did the exact same thing to my parents…only I was gone from Feb.- Dec. to Australia. I can’t imagine now how sick they felt as they smiled and waved goodby to me. Six years later I am now trying to start a family of my own. I often wonder if my children will torture me with worry like I did my parents…..please email me if your daughter would like any info on cool places to visit over there. I spent most of my time in Queensland-
    Jenny

  569. Well,
    I guess you touched a nerve judging from the number of comments! I teared up when I read your post, you got it exactly right.
    I just sent my son away for 6 months with Katimavik, he will be going to Montreal, Yellowknife and Northern Lake Superior. Not coming home for Christmas…sigh.
    So yes it’s lovely, grow wings, have fun, be wonderful. But: Yellowknife is COLD in the winter, and I just learned that polar bears believe that any moving object is food. 18 year old boys tend to move around a fair bit.
    So now I have joined the ranks of successful mothers, yippee. I’ve done the job right, but that means I am now out of a job. Can I knit my way out of this one?
    Cheers, Eloise

  570. I think you are transitioning to the phase I entered about 25 years ago. I am so sorry to be the one to tell you this. IT DOESNT GET EASIER FOR A VERY LONG TIME. I noticed one day that it was easier letting go of my daughter about the time she had to let my granddaughter go.
    sigh, I agree. ITs F****ed
    Lana

  571. My 22year old grandson graduated from the US Naval Academy this year and is now in flight school. That means “my God he is going to fly a plane”. At least someday! I am thrilled he is living his dream and scared to death at the same time. So I really understand your dilema. Let them go, let them grow, but why to they have to do crazy dangerous things?

  572. Believe me this is every mother’s woe. We prepare them their whole life to take care of themselves and when it happens it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under you. I always felt like being a good mother was more important than anything else I did. It will get better, I promise. I have one married son and another that lives 3 hours away. You still worry about them, pray about them and miss them, but knowing that you raised them to be independent is very rewarding. Hang in there girl, it will be alright.

  573. I know you may not get to this because it is way down there in the comments, but I’ve just been through exactly the same thing, and had EXACTLY the same thoughts as you. My just barely 21 year old daughter went to England BY HERSELF (because her friend had to back out and she decided to go anyway) for 3 weeks, to Manchester and Ireland and London, and I have been terrified. I’m picking her up at the airport in 3 hours, and I can’t wait. I truly believe this is the hardest part of having kids – and they let you think it is when they are young – HA!! Hang in there!!!

  574. hey she will probably be too grown up enough to live at home again and what an opportunity of a life for her..You have an awesome sister taking her under her wing..not many like that…lucky you

  575. hey she will probably be too grown up to live at home again and what an opportunity of a life for her..You have an awesome sister taking her under her wing..not many like that…lucky you

  576. Oh hell yes its hard. I sent my 17 yr old 2500 miles away to college and then 2 yrs later she goes off to England for the WHOLE SCHOOL YEAR and we only see her at Christmas for 8 days. It was hard but so exciting for her and by the time she landed back in SoCal for law school she was a grown woman and now we watch go off to India (well we went too the first time since she got married there..lol) and Thailand for vacations..it just goes on but she always comes home, cause this is where her heart is…oh, ok she loves her husband too and doesn’t sleep at our house any more..she has one of her own. the point of all this is ITS HARD TO LET THEM GO but they come back…smile!

  577. It was hard for me to see my 19 yr old son leave for Afghanistan for 5 months. Then returned for two weeks r&r. Then left again for 7 months. I WISH he was in Australia instead! It’s agony not knowing whether I’ll ever see him again.

  578. She will be fine. She will meet amazing people, and learn about herself, and learn about the world, and come home to you for Christmas. You’ll be OK too. I figure if my mom could see me off to Australia at the beginning of December, and know I was not coming home until February, then you can be ok with Amanda being far away too. I mean, I was away for Christmas (which was weird), and I didn’t actually have a return ticket. I did just fine. So did my mom. You and Amanda will too.

  579. If your daughter is anywhere as nice and smart as you are she will be fine. I do dislike this post though. My 7 year old girl just told me last week that she never wants to leave home, never wants to get married and is surely never going to have babies. This post just reminds me that eventually she will grow up and I’m not gonna like it one bit. My heart goes out to you.

  580. If you do your job right, as tough as it is for you, they go out into the world. Congratulations on a job well done!!

  581. Location: New Zealand
    Well, having done the big OE myself I know 4 months isn’t long enough… but boy, is she going to have fun! I managed to stay out of trouble despite living and working on a palm tree farm in Queensland amongst Taipans (deadly snakes) and I didn’t even have a sock. There are internet cafes EVERYWHERE in Oz, so she has no excuse not to use a phone card and ring or e-mail you nearly everyday. =) I now live in NZ, so if she makes it over here she’s got a place to stay. I’ll keep my eye out for a knitter with a backpack.

  582. my son lived in japan for 3 years. 3 long years. We emailed 3x a week, and I missed him terribly. But what an adventure he had. He saw more in 3 years than I did in 49. Didn’t make missing him any easier, though!

  583. Your next book needs to be on parenting. Not even parenting for fiberholics or knitters or crafters. Just parenting. Because, holy cow, could MY mother have learned a TON from you!

  584. She’ll be totally fine. All my family (not me, sadly) is there, and they’ve only been improved by being there.
    Now I know how my mother felt when I travelled through Europe with a backpack and Eurail pass for three months at nineteen. You’ll survive; my mother did, and she’s way more neurotic than you are. I say this with great certainty, as I’m starting to recover from a three-week visit (she may be on the same plane back to Oz as your daughter).
    Chin up!

  585. One word for you: SKYPE. My 21 year old left for 9 months in MOSCOW, had the nerve to turn 22 while she was GONE, and on top of that came back unbelievably healthy stable sound and generally all growed up. Ok, so it was more than one word. Again, I say, SKYPE!

  586. Steph,
    If you think that is the hardest part, buck up.
    Wait till the daughter and the 2 granddaughters that you helped raise leave for a home 4 states away. You just know they are going to get caught in a rip tide, grabbed by a sex crazed maniac, or worse(?), decide they like SC and don’t want to come back home to live.
    Sharing your tears.
    Let’s go have a pint!

  587. Stephanie, you are me. Three years ago, at the age of 22, my only daughter left for Australia for 6 months. I thought my heart was being ripped out. Even now, just the memory of her leaving brings tears to my eyes. My friend, shopping buddy, completely opinionated lovely daughter left me. Yes, parenting is f***ed.
    Even though she had already been on her own halfway across the country, going to school in Ottawa, for 3 years, halfway around the world is a whole other ball game. Be prepared for tears, timezone adjustments, new friends, a much more casual way of looking at life and experiences that you and she can’t even imagine.
    She did come back 6 months after she left with a whole new perspective on the NEED to make enough money to support herself. When she arrived back in Winnipeg she had $10 aussie in her bag and a maxed out credit cart that took her the whole summer to pay off.
    But you know what, neither of us would have traded those 6 months for the world. But I’m warning you, it’s really, really, really hard and something she will never forget.

  588. OMG! I’m laughing and crying and commiserating with you all at the same time. She’ll be fine, you’ll be fine and Christmas is going to be fantastic!!! :-)))

  589. I just got back from a semester in Argentina. She will learn more about herself in the next four months than she’s ever learned before. It’s going to be so badass! When I left my mom was totally excited for me. I was the one crying and screaming “Don’t go! Stay home! Don’t leave me!”. Seriously. I had the hugest melt down in the security line. I didn’t want to come home when it was all over.
    Don’t worry to much. Y’all are Canadian, so she’ll be welcomed with open arms:)

  590. Stephanie, I know how you feel as I too waved goodbye to my three children who each spent a year overseas when they were around 20 (we’re Australian). They came home strong and capable and with a greater understanding of different people and cultures.
    It’s the best education they can have and forget the many poisonous things that Bill Bryson referred to. We all manage to go through life here without being bitten or stung! She’ll have a ball. We travel around our country quite a bit and meet many young people from other parts of the world. They’re all loving the experience.

  591. I so know what you mean. My daughter spent a year in Japan. I so missed her. Now she is grown and graduated but she is away for two years in the Ukraine. Yes, she is there for a reason, but I miss my baby. Oh well, I totally support her endeavors, she is in Peace corps and is teaching, glad she is doing good and this way she enjoys all my warm knits.

  592. If she makes it to Perth (not many people do πŸ™‚ ) get her to give me a shout!
    Being a mother for the last 22 years, I know now how my parents felt when I migrated here from Poland.
    She’ll be right :-). Aussies are great!
    Gosia

  593. Someone once told me that becoming a parent is like ripping your heart out of your chest and letting it walk around outside of your body… forever. I know that’s felt true for me many a time, and my oldest is still a few days shy of turning eleven. When she went to Paris for five days last year with her grandparents and her cousin (for a family bar mitzvah), I felt like my heart was going to explode because she was too far away. Only five days! And with her grandparents! But I worried every second. I can’t imagine letting her go by herself, for months at a time, although I know that day will come. I feel your pain! You’re a brave woman, and a good mom.
    Jonquil

  594. I left my daughter in the Netherlands for 4 months. I know exactly how you feel. I couldn’t even give her a proper good bye as I didn’t want her to see me cry either. I turned and got on a train with my son and a ton of strangers and bawled my eyes out. I mean loudly. Embarrassingly loud. After about 20 min, I got ahold of myself and went to sit with my son. At least I didn’t embarrass him by sitting by him during my breakdown. After getting home, I found a web cam gave both her and myself a certain sense of being together though we were thousands of miles apart.

  595. Dude. I followed the Grateful Dead around for half of one summer in a Volkswagen held together primarily with duct tape and coathangers, had a great time, got my heart broken just a little, didn’t get arrested and didn’t get pregnant, and supported my endeavors by selling falafel out of the back of my van, which gave me one of the favorite stories of my life — the guy who thought I was making fried rain.
    What I did NOT do when I was young enough was to go to Europe before I had a husband, mortgage, job, eldercare, etc. etc. etc. I wanted so badly to pack my backpack and buy a Eurail pass (it was the ’70s), but I could not quite scrape together enough money for college AND a summer in Europe. And as a result of jobs, mortgages, responsibilities, health problems, eldercare etc …. I have yet to go to County Clare, to see the roots of my maternal Irish relatives, or to Hamburg, to see the roots of my paternal German relatives, or to the Isle of Man from whence came one great-grandma, or to Vannaplsbymeavwl, Wales, from whence a great grandfather originated.
    Amanda will be fine, and so will you. I am perilously close to fifty and my Mom still exhorts me to “be careful” everytime I leave her to make the 75-mile journey back to my house. Just tell Amanda to remove her needles from the knitting before she gets on the plane for the return trip, as one understands they don’t allow knitting on Australian flights.

  596. **sniff** I know how you feel! My nephew (not even my own kid!) just left for Germany, and will be back in exactly 1 year to start University. Same kind of thing I did (oh, and still do, when I get the chance), yet I wanted to nail his shoes to the airport floor and tell him we just couldn’t do without him for that long. Unreasonable, I know.
    That’s so awesome for Amanda! She’s taking wing on a huge adventure. The time will probably fly by for both of you.

  597. I loved it! I just moved my own (recent college grad) daughter to Boston, and for all the years of exhorting independence, sniffled much of the way home. I could especially relate to the part when you said you were concerned you hadn’t listed everything she should be anxious about!
    I had a good friend ask me during her own daughter’s college years when you stop worrying about your kids. I thought about my own mother, and the fact that I had recently bought my first motorcycle (at 41). I answered, “when you’re dead.” I believe that’s the truth.
    Best of luck to your daughter. May she have a fine adventure, and return safely to your loving arms.

  598. Stephanie, Linking to you in my 30 Lovely Blogs-post, because while I love all your posts this one is something very special. I’m not a parent, but linked ALL MY FRIENDS who are to this post, and they all conclude that you are in fact a genius.
    http://wp.me/pmUOD-yE

  599. If Amanda’s in Melbourne and would like a home cooked meal, she’s welcome any time! Australia’s a great place to be in Spring – hopefully she’ll have a wonderful time πŸ™‚

  600. YOUR ENTRY TODAY MADE ME CRY AS THE 55-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WHO WAS ALWAYS GOING AWAY, AS FAR AWAY AS I COULD. YOU MADE ME FINALLY UNDERSTAND MY MOTHER WHO JUST PASSED AWAY IN APRIL. THANK YOU.

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