The Braxton-Hicks of launching kids

Yesterday Sam left on a school trip to France. For a month.

 Look at that I'm-going-to-France smile! Or is it an I'm-getting-outta-here smile? I'm going to tell myself it's the former.

Look at that I'm-going-to-France smile! Or is it an I'm-getting-outta-here smile? I'm going to tell myself it's the former.

I know! A month?!  My reaction exactly! It's not the school trip of my own high school experience but apparently, if you are a school in Australia planning to take a group of students all the way to France, you go big or stay home.  At Sam's school most kids take a trip like this at least once in high school. It's a big part of the school's global education focus and we feel really lucky that they value and support these kind of experiences for their students. (And, since the two-week term break is coming up, he'll really miss just 8 days of school overall.) Sam's had his eye on this trip for a long time and has been counting down and preparing for months. The all-over-France itinerary has me alternately super excited for him and wildly jealous. I mean. April in Paris! They write songs about that kind of thing.

Sending him off on this trip has reminded me once again that, ultimately, one of my mama roles is to stand at the doorway and wave goodbye, over and over and over again--handkerchief waving optional. Launching implies a leaving place, a launching pad to push against and leave behind. I am that person, that place. I've had my turn at the launching myself; now I'm the launcher, not the launchee. That's the deal. (See: The Lion King.)

I have been remembering those pesky Braxton Hicks contractions that plagued me in the last part of my pregnancies.  Life has a way of warning us, of designing rehearsals into our systems so that we can gradually prepare ourselves for the real deal.  I've come to think of these adventures and field trips as another set of Braxton Hicks experiences, just preparing me ever-so-slightly for the time when he--they--get on the plane and fly away into a new life. Ever since their births, the leavings just get longer and more distant, more thrilling and bittersweet.  But it's what I signed on for and I have to remind myself that healthy, sprouting, blooming independence is a thing to celebrate, not mourn. Right?

Go, Sam!  Now go bring us back something delicious. And remember to pick up your socks and towels at your host family's house.


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