Digging deep

The Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia

The Empress Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia

We’re spending the week with our son.

We don’t get to do that often enough these days. Right after high school he joined the army and we moved to Alaska. And for the next five years we saw him in bits and pieces, he a cog in the great wheel of the army’s posting and leave schedule, and us connecting when we could match our opportunity to his availability. It was tricky, during those years, but we managed.

We’ve kept up, and kept in contact. I saw him in March, we spent a few days with him back in May, and will see him again at Thanksgiving. We’re making up, a little bit, for lost time. Getting to know him again, and learning about this kid who turned 26 in June. Twenty-six! How did that happen?

It’s often funny, hearing his take on life, catching his humor, his jokes, learning about his likes and dislikes…weaving the fabric with first hand knowledge and time spent face to face.

It’s sometimes hard. He’s not always easy, often stubborn and opinionated. He’s a mix of the two of us, and at the same time, so different from either of us. Life and loss have left a mark. The army experience, both good and bad, and a young marriage that added to the statistics of military marriages, shaped him. He’s finding his way, and so are we.

We laugh and enjoy. It’s easy to be with him.

We tread warily. Rekindled relationships can be fragile. This one needs to strengthen a bit, solidify again.

I find my heart is fragile too, anxious that the week be good, something we’ll all remember with smiles, and a desire to repeat.

Re-connection requires effort. Life gives us people and relationships, but it’s up to us to nurture and make them thrive. So I dig deep, tell my mother’s heart that all will be well.

We’re in Victoria, British Columbia. It’s beautiful and warm, the September sunshine pretending to be a gift of summer. We’ve picked an Irish and a Scottish pub for dinner the nights they have live music, and we’re walking the town and driving the coast. Laid back, charming, and just touristy enough to keep the focus on fun.

How does it happen that you feel you have to get acquainted with the boy you birthed? I know his top layers, but the deeper stuff…well, that’s been forming in the past few years, and I’ve not been with him enough to know his depths.

So I dig deep, mostly within myself…he will have to do his own digging, his own opening, when he’s ready. It is not for me to make demands. He’s his own person now, and I respect that separateness. I just keep it light, make sure he knows he has a home in my heart, so when he wants to land there for a while, he can.

It’s delicate, being a parent to young adults. You play the game of giving them space and respect, but your heart really wants to just make everything right for them. Can’t do it, they have to. I dig deep to get it just right, to hold back, to open up. Exhausting. Fulfilling. It’s hard work. It’s heart work.


18 thoughts on “Digging deep

    • Yes! I find this stage of parenting to be a blend of true friendship and great diplomacy! I enjoy my adult kids, but it has been a process, training myself to be a consultant…you know, you can give advice and do a lot of listening, but they’re under no obligation to do what you advise! And that’s ok. ~ Sheila


  1. “It’s hard work. It’s heart work.”
    Very well said!

    I, too, know the balancing act you write about … on one hand, we want to be there/be involved but, on the other, we’re the ones who gave them wings and they’re supposed to not just stretch them but fly!



    • Thank you! I think this is common to most parents of young adults. In some ways I think this is the most challenging time of parenting yet…because you’re really working yourself out of the job, and yet the relationship is based on the parent/child dynamic. Some days I have to think about that one! ~ Sheila


  2. I have two sons…one (oldest) that lives with us…and one that is married…has 3 children…and lives in a little town about 25 minutes fom us…Not a hop , skip and a jump like you would think…
    I too…know my youngest has changed with his life…and sometimes I sit in awe of what I see and what I don’t know about him..The one at home is an open book pretty much…but, I’m sure there are things he keeps too…
    I just try to let them them know how much they are loved…and that I will be there for them when they need me…Men have emerged from my little boys…
    Distance can be a 1000 miles but, also just a few…I believe it is called growing up… and seeing and feeling life’s happenings…


  3. This is great. A couple of sentences especially touched me:
    “I just keep it light, make sure he knows he has a home in my heart, so when he wants to land there for a while, he can.”
    “It’s hard work. It’s heart work.”
    I’m hoping you have a wonderful week, reconnecting!


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