Choose the Faraway.
This is to all the parents with young children out there.
Someday soon, really soon, sickeningly soon, they’ll be teenagers.
And you may, like me, suddenly have the panic of your life that your time with each other is running out — college just another blink away.
You may then have the thought — let’s go somewhere faraway for this vacation — somewhere so far from the world that all you will have is each other. Let’s go somewhere so far that all we’ll have to do is connect, talk, love, and appreciate each other.
You may at that point, if you are like me, get some eye-rolls from those teenagers. You may get some dramatically strong resistance and the “buts”. You may get, “But I can’t be two weeks apart from my friends and girl/boyfriends! But, I don’t want to go to Montana! But we should go where all my friends are going! Let’s stay here because there are a couple parties I can’t miss! But TWO WEEKS — can’t it be just a weekend?!”
And this is where, if you are like me, it may get hard for you. You love them, you want them to be happy, you don’t want them to resent you, and yet, there is something inside of you that is insisting that in the end it will be a good thing. A good thing to get a cabin in the middle of nowhere and just, be, with, each, other.
It’s a hard, hard part of the fence to be on. But I’m writing this to urge you in that moment to be selfish. Selfish for you, and selfish for them. Choose the faraway. Yes, it will mean you may have to endure in the beginning a couple days of headphones and more eye-rolls. It may mean a couple days where you have to endure the immediate shoot-down of any of your suggestions of things to do. It may mean a couple days of thinking you made the biggest mistake of your life.
But endure. Because very soon some really cool things may happen.
Soon surrender might happen.
Soon, perhaps on a hike at around 8K feet, some jokes and ribbing of each other may emerge. Soon, perhaps over dinner, you’ll start an appreciation circle and be wonderfully surprised by what these teenagers really appreciate about you, their family and each other. Soon you’ll come back inside from a little walk and see your two teenagers sitting on a sofa with their arms around their mother talking about their crushes back home. Soon, around a fire, your kids will burst out laughing at your misinterpretation of the hiphop lyrics they’ve been reciting for the last six months. Soon, you’ll round a bend in the thick mist of a cloud and find yourselves within thirty feet of a mother bear with two cubs and you’ll stop, you’ll gather each other into a tight impermeable group, you’ll slowly back down the path, and then you’ll group-hug back at the trailhead and appreciate being alive, safe, and able to share the experience of this life with this particular amazing group of beings.
Soon the world will be very, very, very far away, and it will just be a family being, with, each, other.
So this for that moment when you, as a caring and loving parent, are sitting on that very, very hard part of the fence. When the world is pulling you one way, and your heart is pulling you there other.
I encourage you to go with your heart. After all, as opposed to the world, your heart is what is keeping you alive. And your heart is what gave birth to your kids, has given them all they’ve really needed, and in the end, is what they want more than anything. Whether they’d admit that or not, whether they’d eye-roll about that or not, or whether they might quietly over dinner a few days later, in their own way, in the secluded safety of the faraway, share how true that is for them.