There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly? ~ Erin Hanson
“So mom, I calculated electricity and internet and food costs for the flat I am going to buy in Tokyo. What am I forgetting?” To which I replied, “Are you forgetting that you are 11, and when did you start saying flat?”
We both laughed but a part of me froze. Before we set off on this journey, my husband and I talked about raising independent, global citizens that were centered and understood the accountability inherent in freedom. What I did not admit at the time was that I still imagined them clinging to my skirts as I trail blazed new landscapes urging them to see the world around each corner.
They left the comfort of my skirts the second they tasted freedom. Sure, I cook and clean and do their laundry in every port but every day they are clearly so much of who they were born to be.
If anyone is clinging it is me:
- I nearly hyperventilated through the longest, darkest, most decaying tunnel in Slovenia as they took this harrowing half an hour to imagine their life in a submarine and how it would feel to be underwater for months at a time.
- I took them with me to translate certain interactions with their school because their Italian is fluent and mine is still a work in progress.
- I followed their imaginations as they peeked through the Berlin Wall, putting themselves right into history effortlessly.
- It was our boys who discovered that we had the exchange rate calculated incorrectly in Denmark and our groceries were, in fact, quadruple what they cost in Spain.
- I watched them offer “peace” to other parishioners in a Catholic church in Lisbon, Portugal during Easter Mass as if it was something they do every day.
- As we climbed the Apuan Alps mountain pass to get to a Carrara marble quarry and I feared for our safety on the icy roads, my 10-year-old said, “Can you imagine doing this in an ox cart like Michelangelo!”
- When we nearly got separated on the subway in Stockholm, I was still catching my breath as they called a family meeting to discuss future mass transit strategies.
It should have come as no surprise to me that my 11-year-old was imagining his life in his own place, in a foreign land, but nevertheless, it gave me pause. I wished for this and yet I could not imagine it until now.
Some days I have to remind myself that this is what I wanted for them but most days I am just trying to keep up and stay close enough to race into the next adventure by their side. Never again will who they are to be contained because they realize their own power and presence. I will follow them until I fully rediscover mine.