Friday, April 29, 2011

O, Those Melancholy Moments

I think there was an old song entitled, "Melancholy Baby" or some such thing.  I'm finding as my "babies" grow up into young adults - I'm the Melancholy Mama a little more often than I should be.
Take tonight, for instance.  My fourth daughter, Tabitha, just left a few moments ago to meet up with friends at someone's house, so they could all finish getting ready for their annual Spring Formal event.  A seventeen year old's "dream" night...getting to look and feel like a princess.  Why would that make me melancholy, for heaven's sake?

It has something to do with the fact that her older three sisters are all grown and gone.  Always before...for the past 6 or 7 years...when prom or spring formal rolled around, there were a "group" of sisters around. Giggling, painting each others nails, primping and curling and spraying, asking each others opinions about how this looks, or what if I did my hair like this?  It's always been so much fun - so much so, that often they've had friends who also come over and join in the big event of "getting ready."
So, when Tabitha came home this week and said, "Some of my friends are going to so-in-so's house to get ready for formal.  Do you mind if I join them?"  I had to force a smile as I said, "Not at all - you'll have fun."

Someone else's house...someone who has more teen daughters around home than we the fun place to go get ready.

She stuck around long enough to let me style her hair...that was fun.  But there were no older sisters saying, "Oh wait - maybe you should do this instead."  There wasn't much giggling.  No fancy dresses swishing around, getting in everyone's way.  All the dressing and make-up work was going to happen at the friend's house.

That's how it should be...I shouldn't always be the mom who gets to have all the fun.

Am I regretful, depressed, or wasting my time moping about the simple fact that children do grow up?  Not at all. Yet here I sit, wondering why the years keep flying by so quickly.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Technology - Frightful or Fearless?

I happen to be one of those people that really appreciates technology.  I love having the world at my fingertips, but more than that, I love having my children who travel the world at my fingertips.  Things like Skype, the internet, cell phones & did mothers do without those for the past few thousand years???  Perhaps they just worried more?  Or, perhaps they were blissfully ignorant of what it was they should be worrying about...

We experienced the awful terror that technology can sometimes make you aware of, just this past week.  Our daughter Bethany is doing a semester abroad in the UK.  I guess in Europe, colleges give month long spring breaks, because both Bethany and her OBU roommate, Hanna, (who is doing her semester abroad in Spain) have been traveling all over Europe during their spring breaks - the whole month of April.

As neither of them planned to carry a laptop around with them amongst their minimal luggage - we decided we would pay a little extra this month on our cell phone plan so that Bethany could send us 50 international texts during this billing cycle.  It's been great, knowing that she arrived in Rome and found her hostel all by herself - knowing when Hanna finally arrived and met up with her - knowing when she's getting on a train to head to some other exotic, European city.  For a parent - they've been extremely comforting and reassuring texts...well worth the extra $10 it's costing us this month.

Ah, but what to do when all of a sudden, you receive this text - 6 PM our time and about midnight her time:

"Hey mom, Hanna and I have a big problem.  We went to the hostel we booked in Paris and it had cancelled our reservation.  We are now in a baaaad part of Paris without a place to stay...We are near Porte de Chappelle St.  I dunno if you can do anything but could you at least pray?"

Kind of sounding like the beginnings of a parents' worst nightmare...especially if you've heard of the movie, "Taken."

Then the phone rang.  It was Bethany (yes, that will be an expensive charge on the phone bill - but would any parent mind at this point?)  She explained that they had found a hotel in that terrible part of town - but it was booked full.    And that street she had mentioned in the text?  She said she wanted us to know that street name, in case something bad happened to them, at least I would know where they last were so I could give that info to the police or something.

Very comforting.

And although 30 years ago a parent would have remained blissfully ignorant of her traveling daughter's is where frightful technology can turn into fearless technology.  Sure, we prayed just like she asked...but we got busy as well.  Nate and I immediately got on two different laptops, searching Google maps and hostels and hotels in the vicinity.  A lot of it was in French and did us absolutely no good.  But it was reassuring to have a map right in front of me, looking at the very street where she was feeling scared and hopeless, knowing that I was doing my best to help.  We sent several texts back and forth with a few addresses of hotels we thought we had found that might be near them.  As it turned out, however, Bethany and Hanna solved the problem on their own by getting the hotel owner to tell them where they could find a place to stay, since his place was all booked up.  That next place he suggested did have a room - and even though it was a "crappy room that is way too expensive" (Bethany's description) they stayed there since that owner couldn't speak English, and since it was nearing the middle of the night.

Thus - did technology really help us out?  Probably not.  Am I glad she has a cell phone and international texting, so she could dump her problem on us and scare us witless?  Absolutely.  Even though it was a frightful half was nice to know that even though my 21 yr. old is halfway around the world and handling life abroad very well on her own...she still needs us.  She still looks to us when she's in dire straights and doesn't know what to do.  She still knows that mom and dad are here for her...even if "here" is 4,000 miles away from where she is staying.  THAT is why I love technology...for those of us waiting back home, it's made the big, wide world that our children love exploring much more easily accessible and "small"...what mother wouldn't love that?