Driving home from work last Wednesday, I slowed for an intersection. Apparently, the driver approaching in cross traffic decided I wouldn’t mind in the least if he blew through his stop sign and pulled out in front of me. As I slammed on the brakes, my right arm flew out to protect the phantom child in the passenger seat. Now my youngest child is 34 years old and 1,600 miles away, but that didn’t stop my arm from flying out to protect my precious cargo! As a mother, do we ever stop wanting to protect our children? Does your arm still fly out without thinking at an emergency stop?
Over the years of raising our children, I have on more than one occasion interceded on the part of my children. I admit that I may have hovered a bit too much at times, but I always tried to fight the urge to be a “lawn mower” parent, rushing in to mow down any potential inconvenience, problem or discomfort. My goal has been to raise independent, resilient adults. Yet even though they have been adults for many years, I still worry. I have had enough life experience to understand a rejection from a college or an employment opportunity isn’t a personal denial of my child’s worth and they will survive and go on (as I have!) But as their mother I find it hard to believe that someone wouldn’t recognize how fabulous they each are and immediately select my son!
Those mama bear feelings reared up this spring when Adam discovered some employment opportunities in his field and decided to throw his resume into the ring. Consequently, this spring was a restless one for me. It began with Adam’s text regarding positions open in several locations including New Hampshire, Virginia and Pennsylvania. All these locations would bring my newest granddaughter closer to me, but I couldn’t help but think about the Penn State University job in State College, Pennsylvania that would put her closest. Following that initial text were regular updates regarding scheduling interviews and on-campus visits. We waited for other candidates to be interviewed, decisions to be made and offers to be negotiated.
Hurray! We are over the moon that Adam has just accepted a faculty position at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania and will be moving to Pennsylvania the same month that Mr. Smith and I move to Pennsylvania! We have not lived in the same state as Adam since he graduated from Indiana University in the spring of 2007. That fall, he went off to graduate school in Colorado. After a year of grad school, he dropped out and spent a year making salads (not feeding pigs like the biblical prodigal son). He eventually found a professor he wanted to study under at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. Mr. Smith helped load Adam and all his worldly possessions into a moving truck and drove with him to Texas, leaving him there in an “interesting” apartment Adam had found on the internet. At Texas Tech he didn’t waste his life in “riotous living”. He completed his graduate studies, obtained his PhD, met his wife, Hsin Yi, and they married. And they gave us Eleanor. Of all our long-distance grandchildren, the distance to Eleanor has always been the farthest. Now instead of 1,600 miles apart, she will be living 130 miles away. That is Sunday dinner territory for the Smith family! In addition, this move brings Adam closer to both of his brothers and their families. While thankfully not a true “prodigal son”, we are all excited and will recognize this move with great celebration and fanfare. And I’m elated to be able to spend more quality time with Eleanor, my brilliant little feminist. I think Aunt Ruby would be pleased.
C’est la vie.