What do you do when your just barely 20 year old calls from college and says she is injured? We try not to overreact, so here’s what we did. We counseled her as best we could on the phone. She texted and called periodically while negotiating through her university’s health care system. She managed just fine. Great, in fact!
She had injured her kneecap in a minor incident, but then exacerbated the injury during a workout. This daughter is a bit of a gym rat, which makes me wonder if she actually is my daughter. Then I recall the six months when she was a colicky infant and did nothing but cry, and the image of her at about age 4 that actually looks just like me at that age…so much so that her cousin/my nephew actually once mistook a picture of me for her.
We offered to drive there and help her out, but she declined. She had it all under control. It makes a parent very proud. Proud, and dejected. Because on some level we still want them to need us – just a little bit. We still want to feel like maybe just a hug from a parent can help. We still want the “kiss it and make it better” feeling. That’s what WE want, not what SHE needs.
So when she called the next morning and asked if we could come and help her with her laundry, of course we did.
My brain heard her say something like, “I need to do laundry, and can’t haul all my stuff to the laundry room while I’m on crutches. Would you mind coming to help?”
What my heart heard was, “I just want and need my mommy.”
We tossed off all of our other very minor plans for the day, boarded the dog, threw ourselves and a few things into the car, and took off on the 2 ½ hour drive. We helped with the laundry, took her and a friend out for dinner, and then we drove home in the lousy visibility on the rainy highway arriving as the clock struck midnight and the rain started to turn to snow. Tired, but feeling like we can still make some small contribution to her life aside from helping with exorbitant tuition bills.
When she broke her wrist in third grade, and then again in fourth grade (but that’s a different story), we were there to get her to the emergency room. When she had a tennis injury, we took her to sports medicine. When she had the flu and strep throat all at the same time, we took her to the pediatrician and made sure she got her prescriptions filled. Now she is managing all of these things on her own.
It is more joyful than painful to watch our now young adult manage her own life – the good and the bad, the healthy and the broken. It is a blessing to see her stand on her own two feet…once she’s off the crutches.
But it did feel good when both head and heart heard her say, “Sometimes, you just want your parents. Thanks for coming.”
It turns out that once in a while just a hug from a parent can still help. She is awesome!