Being a parent is all about preparing our children for adulthood. Having our children grow into hard-working, responsible, well-rounded, caring world citizens is a sign of a job well done.
The journey into adulthood takes many different paths and can look different family to family. In our family we’ve strived to gives our kids’ experiences outside the comforts of home. Through summer camp they’ve learned the confidence to spend time away from us while gaining new friends and skills. Through multi-generational family vacations they’ve learned about the history of the United States as well as patience for their traveling companions who made need to make a lot of rest stops. Through international travel they’ve learned that not everyone has the comforts they enjoy in the United States. There are parts of the world where children go hungry and poverty is all around.
One of the pivotal step in the path to adulthood that our children take is the opportunity to be an exchange student in Germany. My son made the month long excursion a few years ago and this time it’s our daughter’s turn. To further enhance the kid’s experience we will also be hosting a student this time.
On Monday we’re welcoming a young lady into our home for two weeks. As I wrote her mother a note introducing our family, my heart ached a little for her. She’s experiencing right now the feelings, the apprehensions, the fears that I will be facing next summer.
As parents we take big risks, like my counterpart in Germany who is sending her only child out into the world. Trusting the welfare of her child to strangers in a far away land. From one mother to another, I wanted her to know that I will look after her child as if she was mine. The same way that I hope she looks after my daughter during her visit.
While we are excitedly preparing to open our home up to her daughter, I think about what they are doing to prepare for the visit. I’m sure right now they are probably making a list of all her clothes and what she still needs to buy. Checking off the incidentals she needs to bring and deciding how much spending money she should bring. She’s probably sharing in her daughter’s excitement while not trying to show the panic she’s feeling deep down inside at sending her daughter off.
When the kids take off they barely acknowledge us parents with a wave. They are usually so excited to be venturing off into the great unknown without their parents that they can hardly contain themselves. Little do they realize all the work behind the scenes that we parents are doing to make sure they are safe.
I look forward to meeting our new family member. My hope for her is that she feels welcome and secure in our home. That she gets to experience positive view of the Unites States and thoroughly enjoys the activities that we have planned for her. My wish is that her mother is secure in the knowledge that we’ll take good care of her daughter.
For my daughter’s sake I dream that this is the start of a lifelong friendship. She’ll feel a kinship with a young lady thousands of miles away. I hope that when my daughter steps foot on foreign soil, far away from home that she feels like she’s found a second family.
For me I hope that I can feel secure that my daughter is being care for as I would care for her. That I can let her go gracefully without throwing myself on the ground begging her not to leave her mama.