This past Thursday morning Paul and I drove Madi to the airport and put her on a plane for the first leg of her journey to a semester abroad. I held it together! We got her bags tagged and checked, boarding pass printed, and we walked to the TSA line.
We paused a little ways away from it to say our good-byes. On my part, it might have looked reminiscent of the way the mother of a kamikaze pilot said good-bye. There could have been an audible sob or two, but eventually we got it together, and she walked out of sight as we turned to exit the terminal.
Before we reached the car, Madi was calling us to tell us she was through security and at her gate. Talk about ruining a solidly dramatic exit.
Contrary to all appearances, I detest tears in public. My own tears that is. I’m not offended or upset if others cry or show emotions, but I really despise them for myself. I’m sure a therapist would have a field day with these little tidbits, and I’m sure they would be right in their assessment of me.
It’s funny; we talk about people all the time who are overly dramatic or histrionic, people who think a hangnail should be considered a major catastrophe. But there’s another type that’s just as dangerous, just not as prevalent.
In my lifetime, I’ve met 2 of these people with similar views on problems and hardships. One was a preacher, and one was a family member. They both believed that if you weren’t homeless, starving, or being beaten, you might think you have “problems,” but they don’t count unless you’re on the verge of a breakdown or death.
With Madi’s trip, several very helpful people have relayed their own experiences as parents in my situation. And it really, truly helps to know you’re not alone. One woman put her daughter on a plane to Australia, and another sent hers to France during the Afghanistan War when everyone hated Americans. And both of these were before we had the technology we do now.
I couldn't imagine their circumstances: distance, war, no technology. I don’t know if I could’ve done what they did. And although I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, they didn’t mean it like this, but in my mind I orchestrated it that I was being ridiculous, and I should be as strong as they were. I was upset with myself for “being weak” for showing emotion.
I had dinner with a friend on Friday night, and I must have said something to that effect although I have no recollection of it. My friend snapped her head up and said a little forcefully, “Have you EVER thought of giving yourself a little grace?”
And she was right. We give grace freely to others. I would never ever ever judge someone who was missing their child, and yet I was doing it to myself. Why are we so much harder on ourselves than on others? Why do we judge ourselves by a different scale?
I wish I had answers, but now, I do have a new goal.