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.
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…
She’s got a sock.