If you have been hanging around here for any length of time, then you know that Annie and I both have daughters serving missions for our church. The mission itself requires hard work, perseverance, and a good deal of moxie -- since a missionary's main occupation involves approaching complete strangers to talk to them about their religious beliefs. In Jordan's case, she has to do this in French. When I think about her chatting up random French people about such personal topics, I can't help but chuckle since prior to her mission Jordan was reticent to tell a fast food employee she'd been given the wrong order. "Can't you just do it Mom?" Those words still ring in my head.
I wouldn't necessarily call myself a helicopter parent, but I'm definitely hands on and Jordan thoroughly enjoyed me navigating the red tape of her life. Often, I encouraged her to work out her own issues -- like selecting classes, or fixing personal misunderstandings, or negotiating work schedules -- but I was always available for lengthy consults and planning sessions. If she was sick? Shoot, her freshman year in college I flew all the way to Utah to take her to the dermatologist (although, in my defense, her hair was falling out). The weeks before she left for her mission I laid awake at night trying to plan for every last contingency -- umbrella, boots, over-the-counter medications, lotions, prescriptions, bandages. Maybe she'd need antibiotic ointment and bandages! You just never knew.
And then she was gone. LDS missionaries can write letters home, and they have 1.5 hours of computer time per week to send e-mails. Oh, and they can call home for one hour on Christmas and Mother's Day. Jordan left home in the beginning of June 2013. We talked to her for an hour on Christmas day. Also, we knew this Mother's Day call would be our last before she returns home in November. So, last Sunday, at 12 pm central time, my little family huddled around the computer, waiting anxiously for Skype to ring.
If you could only speak with your child one hour every six months, what exactly would you say?
On one hand the sheer rarity of the situation seemed practically overwhelming. I mean, with only an hour I didn't want to talk about what's for dinner. But at the same time, it's not the moment for big decisions or deep, revealing conversations. My sister jokingly called it a 'proof of life' call -- we could see Jordan was happy and thriving and, at the same time, reassure her that home and hearth were patiently awaiting her return.
In the end she told us about the people she is teaching and what it is like to live in Bordeaux -- the food, the culture, and something about dropping a large, glass container of yogurt while getting on a city bus. Her brother and sisters told her what was going on in their lives here at home. We talked a little about signing her up for classes and where she would live when she returned to college. But mostly, I just sat back and marveled at the can-do woman she has become. She can cook. She can move herself all over the south of France. She is getting ready to renew all of the paperwork for her visa. I realized (shockingly) that she could even procure bandages should the occasion arise. Most importantly, she is happy, which means she knows how to find joy in life -- even without her momma. And while this thought gives me a sharp pain right behind my watery eyes, I'm proud of her. So, so proud.
Now. If I can just make it till November.