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Friday, October 8, 2010

My Daughter's Trip Leaves me Feeling Out of Control...

Against my better judgment, my oldest daughter, who is nine-years-old, is traveling without Mom and Dad for the first time this weekend. She is going with her grandmother (my Mother-In-Law) to Washington, DC to visit her cousins for the Columbus Day Holiday (No, I’m not saying “against my better judgment” has anything to do with my Mother-In-Law).

I say that because I’m not one that is big on letting my children travel without me. Maybe, it’s insecurities. Maybe, since I work in the television news industry and see so many incomprehensible and illogical stories, it’s fear. But, whatever it is, it makes me uncomfortable (should I be concerned about feeling a sixth sense?).

I’ll be honest. I didn’t want her to go and put my foot down when my wife approached me with the idea.  "Absolutely, not," I said.  Several weeks later, as I'm signing a legal waiver for my daughter to travel despite my objection, I'm thinking, "Now, who wears the pants in this family?"  Maybe that is another reason for my grievance. 

My wife constantly reminds me of how much traveling she did as a child, including from Spain to Miami without an adult with her younger sister.  But, they lived in Europe!  Do I need to say more?  (In all honesty, my wife actually helped make me the man that I am today.  When we met, I was a bleeding-heart liberal, or should I say "progressive" to avoid insulting anyone?)

My daughter is extremely excited. She will be visiting my wife’s cousin, her husband and their three kids (like us, they have two older girls and a boy).  They live on the outskirts of DC in Virginia. One of the daughters is just a little older than our nine-year-old and they are very close. They see each other every summer, during our yearly family vacation, and during the Christmas Holiday but, aside from going to Virginia for her First Holy Communion, this will be the first time they get together in-between.

I remember, with great fondness, visiting my cousins, who live in Chicago, as a kid. The anticipation of the trip and seeing my cousins, the adventure of being in cold weather, where we needed coats and occasionally saw snow, was more than I could contain inside. However, I never went without my parents until I was in high school.

I guess probably the biggest reason for my reluctance in letting my kids travel without me is the lack of control. As a father, I want to be in control of what my children do. I want to protect them against evil. I want to be there to share their happiness and console them when they cry.  I want to guide them and give them advice. But, no matter how much I try to influence and direct them, all kids eventually grow up and they leave our control (Just that nine seems a bit premature for my taste).

As a Christian, I can compare this to my faith walk. I often think that everything depends on me and I have to be in control but in the end, it’s not. No matter how hard I try, I have little to do with what ultimately happens.

It’s funny, I sometimes read friends on Facebook giving advice, urging others to think positive and make their own breaks in life because it “all depends on you” and you control your destiny.  Nothing could be furthest from the truth. Sure, you have to make good choices, stay positive and live proactively. But, in the end, it has nothing to do with us.  It has everything to do with God.

My cousin Dario was 25-yrs-old, in the prime of his life, when he had a heart attack that killed him (while giving his toddler daughter a bath). Could he have done anything to add single minute to his life? Maybe, we will never know for certain, but how many times do we read about young people that die in a car crash or from an illness? My good friend and high school baseball teammate, Eloy, was 45-years-old when he went for a jog on Father's Day of this year.  He had a heart attack and died in his car.  Whether we are overly cautious, avoid alcohol, tobacco, eat right, work out, or not, it’s not in our control.  Your chances may improve but it's not a guarantee.

I was talking to a good friend, who is a doctor, and this week performed a medical procedure on me that required general anesthesia. I was telling him that I was talking to him like nothing one minute and the next thing I know, I wake up in the room I was before being taken to the operation room. It was surreal.

My friend asks me, “Wouldn’t it be great, if our faith was that easy?” In other words, that we trusted God so much that we could let go completely, like little children unjaded by the influences of the world (or in my case like someone under general anesthesia). 

I went into the hospital with a lot of incertitude. I was nervous about what the process would entail. Would it hurt? Would anything unexpected be found?  How would I feel afterwards? Again, a fear of something going wrong; of not being in control. All I could do was trust in my friend and trust in God.  And, before I realized, it was over and all my concerns were for not.

Hopefully, I can take the same approach with my daughter’s trip this weekend.

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