I have to take a break from our great London/Paris adventure this week to tell you about my weekend in Park City, UT. Well, actually, I can’t tell you much, due to the pact that my friends and I made that we wouldn’t share the details unless, of course, I wanted to go to an early grave or face sudden and sure disfigurement.
But I did learn a few things which I will share.
1. Olympic ski jumpers – you know the ones that start up really high and then stretch out like they’re taking a nap in the air? – start learning their sport at age five. I ask you, what mother in her right mind lets her five-year-old start jumping off mountains? I wouldn’t even let my kids jump off the couch because the one time I did that, Maggie ended up in the hospital on Christmas Eve. Goodness!
2. If you put grilled chicken on a focaccia bun, along with some arugula and blue cheese and then grill it in a Panini press, you will have an object of my undying love. I ate this for lunch on Friday and craved it for the rest of the weekend. Windy Ridge Bakery—don’t miss it if you’re ever in Park City.
3. Those carved bears that you see everywhere that are so-cute-you-just-can’t-even-pass-one-up? . . . Each has its own personality. I think these bears pick their owner, kind of like the magic wands in the Harry Potter books. Just remember, if you have a really big house, you need a really big bear to make a statement.
4. There’s a Mexican restaurant which shall remain nameless (mainly because I don’t remember the name of it) that has a bathroom you should never, ever enter. Ever. Just trust me on this one.
5. Hanging out with skinny women all weekend doesn’t do much for one’s self-esteem. I think I need some serious therapy after this weekend. ‘Nuff said.
There was one more lesson that I learned this weekend, and I think it was worth the price of the entire trip for me. I learned that I’ve done my job.
When my first daughter was born, I sat holding her just minutes after her birth, and the strangest thought occurred to me. I told B, “From here on out, my job is to teach her to not need me.”
I know, you’re probably thinking I’m nuts. Here I’ve just given birth and the natural thing to do would be to hold your child close and never let her go. And it wasn’t like I didn’t love my daughter immediately. I did. For sure.
But I had this incredible, overwhelming sense that in order for her to be a happy, healthy grown-up person, I would have to teach her to be independent of me.
And so I’ve spent the past 17 years teaching her—and my other two daughters—to do as much as they can for themselves. They start with making their beds, progress to making their own lunches, and move on to doing some of their own laundry. With a whole lot of other responsibilities thrown in for good measure.
None of this is because I want to pass off my duties to them, like I’m lazy or something, but because I want them to be confident young women who can do things for themselves.
Enough of the parenting philosophy for today. Let’s get to the point.
So this weekend when I was away, I called home a few times. I mean, my friends were calling home, getting calls from home, and texting home all weekend. I thought I should probably join in the fun. So I called home a couple of times to see what was going on.
Not much, apparently. No crises. No food issues. No traumas. Nothing.
On Saturday night, B had to leave the girls at home to go to a work event in the city, so I thought I’d just call and check up on the girls to see how they were getting along. Here’s how the conversation went:
“Hi Kate, it’s Mom.”
“Oh, hi Mom! How are you?”
“I’m fine. I just wanted to check up on you guys to see how you’re doing.”
“We’re fine. Abby’s practicing her violin, Maggie’s upstairs, and I’m watching T.V. We had pizza for dinner. We’re really fine.”
“Oh . . . well . . . that’s good. Sounds like everything’s under control.”
“Yeah, we’re fine.”
“O.K. then. If you don’t need anything . . .”
“You really miss us, don’t you? You don’t have to miss us, Mom. We’re fine. Just have a good time.”
And then we hung up. A quick, two-minute phone call. I just sat there, thinking, and suddenly I realized that they really don’t need me much. I’ve done my job.
I just sat there, in the display window of the Ann Taylor outlet store, and very nearly cried as this realization hit me. The thing that I’ve wanted for my girls is coming true—they don’t need me. They can stay home alone for a while, make their own dinner, find things to do, and even have fun . . . all without me.
Well, I may be doing my job, but I hope I’ll never be finished. I hope with all my heart that even when they are grown, and even if they move far away, that they will still need me. For something.
Even if it’s just to make that phone call that says, “I miss you.”