Friday, January 20, 2012

Returning to the Nest . . .

My daughter is home to roost, for awhile.  I'm glad she is, although I feel a little selfish to admit it.  She has been my rock and my sanity in the classroom the past two weeks, and the occasional bone of contention at home, although I say that with sincere fondness.  It's just a bit of an adjustment to go from empty nest, to partially full, especially when it was unexpected.

Kailyn should have left at 6 am Tuesday, for another five months in France.  For many legitimate reasons, she made the decision not to go.  It was an agonizing choice.  When she first told me she wasn't sure if she could go back, I didn't really understand.  I knew she had been homesick, and felt very isolated in France.  I knew she was lonely, and had a difficult time finding friends that shared similar interests (sightseeing and traveling versus partying continually).  When she finally did make two good friends, neither of them lived on campus, and both were there only the first semester. She spent many hours alone, walking and sightseeing, and wishing things could be different.  Having always had numerous friends, she was disconcerted to find that building friendships with varying language barriers was so much more difficult than she had expected.  Still, she tried hard to make the best of her situation.

I knew all that, because we skyped a couple times a week, and every time we skyped, I could tell she was sad.  She told me she wasn't sleeping well, and I could tell she was losing weight. I told her to eat more, and read herself to sleep in French. I listened, but I didn't hear. I didn't understand, not really, because I've never been completely alone, "a stranger in a strange land".  And, resourceful and strong willed, and determined as this child is, I expected that she would do as she always has done: tough it out.

Writing about this now makes me cry, as I came so close to wanting to force her to return to a situation that was becoming exceedingly uncomfortable for her.  I kept my opinions to myself mostly and suggested she make a "pros and cons" list and think about her decision, cautioning her that she would have regrets if she didn't go back to France.  That was a little over two weeks ago.  She called and made herself an appointment with a counselor, whom she has seen twice and has future appointments scheduled.  I watched her wrestle daily with her options, and I began to feel fear about her leaving.  I was worried about her health . . . emotionally, physically, mentally. When she finally made the decision to stay home, I'm not sure who was more relieved.  She told me later she was able to sleep for the first time in months.  That broke my heart. Her eagerly anticipated adventure in France had taken a huge toll on her.

These days I see my youngest daughter with new eyes.  I recognize the adult within for the first time.   Watching from the sidelines as she worked through her France experience, tallying the gains and losses, painstakingly making her decision, I came to appreciate the awareness she has gained, and the growth she has made, as an adult.  Without asking for (or allowing) my assistance, she made all phone calls and emails to take care of her final decision, many of which were really hard calls for her to make.  She bravely faced some who challenged her, attempted to make her feel guilty, or wrong, or irresponsible. When she shared an email from the coordinator at her college, it brought tears to my eyes, as he wasn't very nice to her. I gave her a hug and said, "It's a good thing I'm not replying to him!"  Kailyn stood up for herself. She made arrangements for the transport of her remaining belongings back to the US.

The life lessons learned over the last few months have been enormous, overlapping and attaching themselves to Kailyn and I in ways neither of us would have anticipated.  Perhaps, it was the element of the unknown that caused the lessons to worm their way into our consciousness; pry open the hard shell of expectations and assumptions and lay them out, raw and quivering, leaving us both forever changed.

I am the mother of two fiercely independent and uniquely individual daughters, grown up and away from their mother's hovering, anxious wings.  Jessica is soaring into her own wild blue yonder, blazing her own trail, grabbing whatever life has to offer, digesting what comes her way. Kailyn is home for awhile to roost, appreciating the safety and security of the nest she calls "home".  I am discovering that the less I am needed as a mother, the more I feel wanted as a friend.  It's a really nice place to be.

New Year's Day Hike ~ 2012


  1. Beautifully told, Sandi. Kailyn need not regret having made the right decision for her. It's her life and she alone knows what's best for her heart's happiness and ease. Ignore the naysayers who will always step forward to point fingers. Perhaps some of them lack the courage Kailyn has to determine her own path and to know when to bail ship. Big hug for you both. Xoxo

  2. Hi, I came to say hello. Seems sweet Dee got us together. :)

    Sounds to me like Kailyn trusted her own guidance and that she truly gave it her best shot and didn't take the decision lightly. Good for her. Sometimes you have to stand up and be true to yourself no matter what the opposition. A young woman to be proud of. And wise enough to know when a decision wasn't right for her. :)

    Glad to meet you, Sandi. :)

  3. She sounds incredible! You should be very proud. She really thought it out, wrestled with the decision and now she can move forward. I'm sure she'll have a ton of adventures ahead of her and she did have a great one in France already. You sound like a good Mom...a Mom any girl would love to have. I always laugh when I hear some of our new parents sigh after the birth of their children and say: "whew, the hard part is over"..ha! I always think: "Oh no, that was the easy part, it's the next 30yrs that will be the challenge!"

  4. Sometimes it is hard to understand what our children are saying to us. I am glad that this all worked out for Kailyn and you are both at peace with her decision. The best is yet to come for her!

  5. I know when I needed to go home, it was always where my mother was. That never changed until Mama moved to heaven where I couldn't get "home" to her. I'm so happy that Kailyn is able to regroup and stay "home" for awhile. She spread her wings and I'm sure she learned a lot. You told her story well, Sandi.

  6. I admire that you have given Kailyn so much room to make this decision on her own. That is such a hard thing to do. I also admire Kailyn for know what she needed to do which was to figure out just what she needed to do.

    Parenting adult children is a challenge. I think you have written a great introduction on how to do it. Best to both of you as you continue on the journey of understanding and supporting each other in ever changing roles.

    Thanks for your support of me also. I am slowly beginning to rally. This is a good thing.

  7. I'm so very proud of you both. This is a most wonderful story of resilience and listening and love. Strong spirits, tender hearts.

  8. How proud you must be of your daughter!

    How proud Kailyn must be to have a mother who not only listens to her, and hears not only the words, but also her heart.

  9. Dear Sandi,
    This posting says so much about you and Kailyn and your relationship. I am bemused by the wisdom of this sentence: "I am discovering that the less I am needed as a mother, the more I feel wanted as a friend." That must be what most mothers want, and you not only have discovered the words to articulate this hope, but you have experienced it happening. What a blessing the two of you are to one another.


  10. I can only imagine the relief (physical, emotional, and mental) you both must have felt after the decision had been made. Enjoy your time together.

  11. You don't know how very lonely you were until you are with people who love you. I felt lonely traveling around the world alone for 7 years and being single. All that ended when I became a wife and mother. I love my life so much more now.

  12. Can relate to all this Sandi.
    My daughter gets very homesick in Berlin but has a good job now and is happy with her boyfriend but misses family terribly, and we miss her.
    I feel for Kailyn. Those choices that are big ones that need to be made can make us lose sleep and appetite, but the relief when both those things return is enormous.
    I remember being in my early twenties and deciding, after much deliberation, not to return to my first husband and heard my mother talking excitedly on the phone to someone. "It's wonderful" she said. "She's started to eat again."
    Bon apetit Kailyn!

  13. I'm glad she's home and made a good but difficult choice.

  14. what a wonderful post! agree with all comments. you have an amazing daughter. that really couldn't have been and easy decision to make. Sounds like a strong young lady to me It's wonderful to have a home to go home to when the stress of the world is just too much!
    take care!

  15. It's a challenge to be just enough help, but not too much. And to let go of their struggles and realize you've raised them and they will figure it out eventually.

  16. Not so independent then. Perhaps a little too young still?
    It is her decision and she has made it now; as she feels so much more relieved it is the right one.
    But it is a shame, young people do eventually settle into new situations, although it takes courage to stick it out.

    Help her to come to terms with her decision and help her on the way to a different path. It's all a loving mother can do. As you said, you are her friend now, being able to depend on a supportive home life is what she needs for the moment.


Thank you for visiting my blog. I enjoy the connections made with others, and welcome feedback! I make every effort to read and comment on the blogs of all who visit my site. Seek the light!