In Recovery Mode
01 March 2008 | Big Majors Spot
Beth - hot, windy
Madcap felt very empty, and Jim and I were a little aimless for a day or two after the family left. This posting will tell you almost nothing about what we have done so if you're interested in the "sailing blog" just skip it and go to the next one; if you'd like a peek into the emotions of a sailing mum, keep reading...
We've been on our own for over 7 months - with the exception of our family time at Christmas - and yet it took only a week to bring back all those "parent-child" bonds along with the delightful freedom of interaction that their adulthood allows.
Our phone calls and initial conversations go along the lines of interest in what we are each doing - the general news kind of thing - but a week together brings out the deeper questions...How are you really? What is happening that makes you happy? Sad? Pushes your edges? Makes you feel anxious? What excites you? Frustrates you? Are you off balance or on an even keel? Got a route planned? Drifting? Tied to the dock?
Sometimes such questions get answered well when there is a little distance - e-mails and phone calls provide space that is helpful for deep conversation. I found that on this occasion with our kids, those conversations happened only face to face and after a few days of getting comfortable again. I had moved out of "mother" role and into "parent on an adventure" role; in fact they all remarked on it without any prompting. "Where did my mother go and who is this woman here in her place?" There were lots of laughs around the difference in scheduling. At one point I'd have been hounding them to get up and get going: don't waste any minutes during this week in the south...gotta see and do as much as possible....don't pass up any opportunities... don't drink too much. This time the refrain ran more along the lines of: take whatever time you want to get settled...no rush...if you want to...this is an interesting place to visit but it's up to you...would you like a "dark'n stormy"?
It worked well, but as the week progressed, I found myself slipping more and more into that watchful, protective, slightly anxious about their well-being state of mind that was so familiar for so many years. As a result, the days after their leaving contained not only the negative space left by their physical selves, but also the mental and emotional space and the lingering questions and ponderings about their lives. I've always been plagued with an abundance of self questioning - If I had done this differently, what would the result have been? If this had happened or not happened? All those what if's?
And so, after spending a week with them, I have confidence in their people skills, their lively senses of humour, their sense of justice, the complex but solid bond they have with each other; there is not a doormat among them! I'm proud of these people who are my children. I am also feeling watchful again, a touch anxious, wishing for them courage and the desire to stretch themselves out to their horizons. I wonder how best to encourage them to continue developing that state of inner confidence in which they know they don't have to prove anything to anyone else, and they can dare to take chances, and that there are no limits on their ability to be successful, thriving adults.
That line of thinking leads me back to what I am doing with myself these days - cruising, learning new skills, making new connections with people. I look forward to getting back to that "travelers state" I had achieved - of feeling content that they have all the right stuff to live their lives fully and well, that they can make whatever decisions they want and that such decisions will turn them in one direction or another and there will be no good or bad - just opportunities for learning and growing. While it is my responsibility to nurture and support my family and friends, it is not my job to make their decisions for them or set out a course for the directions they should follow. If I try to do that, I take away their opportunity to make their own plans, set their courses and experience whatever happens next.
As Chris Parker, the weather guy, says, "This is the forecast; the schedule is up to you."
Cruisers freely share ideas, experiences, and advice but the bottom line always is the skipper is the master of his/her own vessel. It works on a boat and it works in life.
End of motherly musings! Fair Winds and Safe Sailing!