Brave

“The ship is safest when it’s in port. But that’s not what ships were made for.”
Paulo Coelho

I’ve always had an adventurous streak. When I was 15, I saved my money and flew to Estonia to spend three weeks with family friends. In these early days of email, I sent maybe two messages to my parents. (These had to be word processed, saved on a disk, transferred to a work computer, copied into an email, and finally sent.) I had an amazing experience and I know my parents were confident in my safety, even without reliable communication.

A couple years later, they put me on another plane. This one was headed to Paris, where I spent my college years. Email had improved and I was able to keep in daily contact. Even so, an 8-hour time difference taught me to trust my intuition, even as I desperately wanted my parents’ advice and encouragement.

And again, a few years later, a trip to Kathmandu led me to three months of sketchy internet in the midst of a Maoist crisis. By this time I had learned to edit emails, to share details that put my parents at ease and saved the more intense stories for when we were safely face-to-face.

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Rafting in Nepal

Throughout it all, my parents trusted me and taught me to approach life and opportunities with courage and confidence.

Now, as a mom of a two-year-old, I see my daughter’s independence and adventurous spirit already emerging. In fact, one of her favorite questions is, “Should we go on an adventure?”

Backyard Superhero Adventures
Backyard Superhero Adventures

Even though we’re years away from kindergarten… And college… And real adventures, I find myself preparing for those days. I have a feeling my strong daughter will do life Big and it’ll be hard to let her go.

But, staying close, staying safe, isn’t who she’s meant to be. I don’t want to force her into a safe harbor – I want her to go out into this world. So, in the meantime, it’s my job to model and encourage bravery. Maybe it’s not in grand adventures, but in small moments: In letting her walk “by herself” to the park (some 20 feet ahead of me); In opening the back door and letting her explore without me in view; In trying new things myself – from a part time job to opening our home to new friends to taking a class to learn a new skill; In letting her see that courage doesn’t end as a child, but continues throughout life.

How are you living courageously? Any advice for letting kids go?

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4 thoughts on “Brave

  1. For me, living courageously means forcing people to understand that “No.” is a full sentence. I do not have to explain all of my decisions to other people’s liking–especially people who can’t be pleased no matter what my decisions.

    I love that your baby is using her independence as an adventure, rather than a tool of rebellion. I would love to meet this kid someday. All of us would have a blast. 🙂

    1. That is a tough one for me – I am horrible at at saying no, especially without backing it up with a neutralizing reason…. Yes! We would have a fun adventure – maybe one day!

  2. Annie, I’m a bit older I guess. When I went to Europe at age 15 (for a year!) I could only communicate with my parents through actual physical letters that had to sail on boats. It was quite Victorian. It was 1990, so I just missed the email thing.

    On the other hand, it was a real adventure. I still long for wilderness and escape, which is harder and harder to find. Last weekend, I took my family to Big Bend for a little excursion, hiking, off the grid behavior. Letting go meant trusting my kids on the cliffs, helping them hike without complaining, and trusting them to share their limits too. Letting them go as much as they wanted to go.

    (And thanks for your great work at The High Calling recently!)

    1. Ha! That email reference definitely dates me! 😉 Wow – a year abroad at 15? What were you doing? I agree, it is so hard to truly escape – and instilling that sense of adventure in our family takes more intention. Love your family vacation – that’s how we want to raise our kids! Thanks for stopping by!

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