Pre-departure – Home
Sunday 18th July 2021
As my kids have been growing up, my parenting responsibilities have at times seemed endless. For a dozen or so years, I’ve had constant contact with, and have carried shoulder loads of responsibilities for, both my kids. My two children are now blossoming into teenagers. It’s one of those strange paradoxes where it has been coming for some time but then sort of happened in the blink of an eye.
For some years now, I’ve noticed the slow but steady development of character and independence in my children, as well as a fledgling need to branch out on their own. This often gives me pause for thought. On the one hand, this represents a light at the end of the tunnel with respect to my parenting responsibilities (would burden be the wrong word?) – at least those of the day-to-day kind.
Sandy and I often catch ourselves contemplating life after the kids have flown the nest, what this will mean for us and how much of our lives we’ll get back. Will we once again be able, for example, to enjoy the simple pleasures of just being in each other’s company? Could we even take a trip somewhere without the constant juggling of keeping this child or that child happy, safe, fed, nourished, out of trouble, etc.
Jae in particular is well and truly on the train destined for the town of independence. One day, that train will smack me full on in the face and my day-to-day parenting responsibilities will no longer be needed as much. Notwithstanding the fact that this partially represents something I’ve actually looked forward to for a number of years, I can’t shake the feeling that this transition will result in a lot of pain for me as well.
Perhaps I’m clinging to something here, but I feel a need to remain connected with the children while I still can. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have the access to them I currently enjoy (would endure be the wrong word?). With all the pressures of running multiple businesses – not to mention a full-time day job – I fear I’m possibly missing out on something in the here and now that I may not be able to get so readily in the future once the kids have fully developed their independence. Perhaps this is the underlying reason I agreed to it in the first place. Maybe I just wanted to add another country to my tally of forty-five. Whatever the reason, I’m now fully committed to a 10-hour road trip across Europe to spend a few days with Jae on holiday in Denmark. Just think about it: 10 hours in the car with just Jae and me on an epic road trip to Scandinavia and back. What could possibly go wrong?
Notwithstanding my own premise for wanting to make this trip, Jae’s purpose isn’t actually to spend quality time in the car with Dad. I guess that would have been too much to ask for. Jae has already traveled too far down the track to independence for that. Spending quality time with Dad would, at best, be incidental in Jae’s mind. For Jae, the main driver of this trip isn't Dad (see what I did there?), it's instead to visit an online friend.
With all the video conferencing and online communications endemic to teenagers, this friend has sort of become a pseudo part of our own family in some senses. They are often ‘present’ with us via a video link and we’ve all gotten to know each other quite well over the past couple of years. I even did a couple of virtual presentations to their school a few weeks ago.
Regardless of our own separate reasons, this road trip represents perhaps a real meaningful attempt for me to connect and spend some quality time with Jae – while I still can. As with all previous holidays, I’m going to do what I can by way of daily updates to this blog to document the experience (would endurance be the wrong word?).
With just under three weeks to go before a very early morning departure, most of the logistics have already been taken care of. We have a place to stay. We have a rough idea of where we’re going to be and what we’re going to do on most days. We have a budget organised. And best of all, we have a lot of anticipation building.
The one possible sting in the tail here could be the Corona virus. If you’re reading this in the years to come, there was this thing about something called a Corona virus. I think it was on the news once. Anyway, the ever-shifting landscape of Corona virus counter measures currently being enacted by the various European countries are still being tinkered with. Fortunately, I’ve already had my vaccinations, but Jae will be getting the first of two jabs in a few days. The second isn’t due until after we return from our sojourn, so a negative PCR-test will be needed. Here’s hoping.
Either way, I'm starting to get those previously familiar jitters about driving off once again into the great unknown. Of course, Sandy and I are no strangers to doing this sort of thing. This time, however, I'm not casting off my responsibilities as an adult and throwing caution to the wind by just heading in the direction of my nose and seeing where we end up. This time, I'm carrying my parenting responsibilities with me. I'm almost certain it will be fun (would traumatic be the wrong word?).