Long Distance Mothering

My daughter is a long ways away–and going through some stressful times. Nothing she can’t handle, and nothing that’s not pretty much normal for a kid who’s moved out of the house for the time. The kind of stuff every adult has to deal with at some point or another.

I’m talking to my husband at dinner.

“I know she’s going to be okay, but I hate to see her struggle. When she was at home, I could make things easier for her. I can’t do much for her now. I want to make it go away for her…”

“It builds character,” he says matter-of-factly.

“Who’s? Hers or mine?”

“Both.”

Damnit. He’s right. I can provide advice, support, and a friendly ear, but not much else. I said as much to my daughter in a chat the other night.

“The advice helps, but it’s good for me to be responsible for my own problems,” she tells me. “I’m growing through the experience.”

Damnit. She’s right, too. I want to fix it all for her, make the stress disappear, but I can’t. Just as well, as “taking care of things” is not always the most helpful approach as a parent. But it doesn’t mean the drive is less. I really hate to see her having a rough time of any stripe.

So I settle for what I can do–chats, mom-advice, threats to video-nag her if she doesn’t take her vitamins, pictures and life-around-the-house video to cheer her up (I hope), and a little package mailed here or there. It seems like very little, but I do know little gestures can help support and buoy through a rough patch.

Might as well get used to it. As my husband pointed out, other parental milestones will come to pass. News flash: it ain’t over when they move out!

Like when she has a baby, which probably will happen someday. That will be an “Oh Shit–she’s just a baby and what’s she gonna do with this baby?” moment. Nothing personal to her. That’s just how I imagine it must be as a parent seeing your child cross that bridge into another life phase. She mentioned another one of those moments will be when she gets married. I have no idea what that will feel like, but as pointed out, it’s one of those things–much like moving out for the first time, or having kids–that defies description when you haven’t had the experience.

But still…I don’t think I need all that much character-building by this point. I’m about as big a character as you’re ever going to find…I guess I’ll have to settle for mothering the cats.

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