There was a tragedy recently in my circle of connections. The adult child of a couple I know committed suicide. As a mother, my heart was unbearably heavy with aching sadness for the parents that not only lost a child, but lost a child in such a painful way that it caused feelings of guilt and remorse layered over the pain of loss.
It made me think of the connections I have to my own adult daughter who is now living and working out of state. It is a delicate dance for mothers and daughters to navigate the often tricky steps of creating a new relationship as mutual adults. After years of feeling responsible to guide and protect, it is difficult to allow adult children to spread their wings into independent lives while still maintaining a connection.
This was on my mind when in the middle of a casual chat with my daughter I blurted out, “What do you think about a mother daughter trip?” We traveled a lot as a family, and had taken short trips together as mother and daughter, but we had never really experienced a trip planned together as mutual adults. When the words left my mouth, I held my breath waiting for my daughter’s response. I hoped that as a single young woman who still likes to hang out with her mom (especially when she is paying!) she might like the idea. However, I also knew that she was working hard to establish an independent life after a lifetime as a somewhat overprotected only child.
“Yes! Where are we going?!” was her immediate response as my heart swelled hearing her enthusiasm. “Uh, I don’t know…” I responded. I hadn’t really given much thought to the actual trip, just the idea of it. We threw a couple of ideas around, and the universe cooperated with tickets available (after much effort) in February, my daughter’s birthday month, and we’re off to New York to see the Broadway play, Hamilton!!
This trip has given me more anticipatory joy than any recent trip I can remember. My daughter is a big theater buff, and on a trip a few months ago to visit her she was playing the soundtrack to Hamilton for her dad and I as she enthusiastically described the songs. Now that we have tickets (A story in itself! They are just as hard to get as you may have heard!), my daughter is sending me one song a week with lyrics and a personal synopsis and critique of the song from her perspective. I look forward every week to her message, and we’re able to share our thoughts on the song…and a bit about life, too. The new life that she is embarking on, and the life she left behind. Hamilton is the bridge that connects us. As I read and discuss her views on the play, I see the young woman she has become. I am filled with pride as I read her ideas and listen to her opinions. I am reminded that while she will always need my love and support, her dad and I have done our job. She has a good head on her adult shoulders. She is thoughtful and makes decisions carefully. Her opinions are well formed, and she backs them up with carefully thought out reasoning.
Our upcoming trip to New York is more than a visit in geography, I am reminded that it is another step in the journey from parent to child to two adults connecting. I am so grateful to have this opportunity. Times Square here we come!! (And Lord, help me not to grab her hand when crossing streets in heavy traffic:)