Recently, my parents came to Spain to visit me. My parents had not been to Europe since their honeymoon so this took lots of convincing. I seriously could not believe it when I heard them tell me they were finally coming. I was ecstatic. After a five-hour delay and missing their connection flight, they finally set foot on European soil.
On our last night together, we all went out to dinner. As dinner was wrapping up, I could feel my heart starting to get heavy. I couldn’t imagine that the next day I wouldn’t be able to see them again for a long time. And that feeling surprised me. My parents and I are no strangers to goodbyes, to us they are more like a “see ya later” that we make a point not to dwell on too much. I have had to say goodbye to my parents three times now in my time living abroad, but this third time was different.
As I laid awake that night, I wondered to myself why this time felt so different. A week or so passed and I started to make some connections.
I often say the best way to learn about someone is to travel with them. I had realized that this past trip with my parents was the most consecutive time I have spent alone with them since my sister was born. Which is when I was 2 years old. I realized that even though I have lived with them the past 20+ years, do I really know my parents?
I have spent the majority of my twenties living away from home. In this time, I graduated college and have lived abroad for almost 2 years. I have come to learn that your twenties (at least for me so far) is a very strange limbo of sorts. It is this whirlwind rollercoaster-of-emotions adventure where I am just kind of making it up as I go along. My twenties, for lack of a better word, have been my “selfish” years.
I have had to be selfish and tell my parents goodbye. Every year I don’t want to leave them, but I know if I stay at home I won’t grow in the way that I need to. In this “selfish” time, they have been selfless. They let me go on these life-changing adventures no matter how much it hurts to see me go. I have learned so much about myself in this short time, and in this time I have learned how to live without my parents. I am slowly making that transition from dependence to independence. From childhood to adulthood.
In my “adulthood”, it is honestly easy for me to forget about my parents. I have been so busy with my life here, that when the date to their trip came up, I could hardly believe it. I felt like I had just said goodbye to them and that was 6 months previously. I had to remind myself that on this trip with them, I was going to have to take a breather for a second. I was excited to relax, and definitely excited to be with them.
As my week with them went on, I saw them in a new light. I got to see my dad’s eyes light up like a little kid, awestruck at monuments he had not seen before. I got to drink coffee with my mom and see her love for people watching. I got to cry laughing with my dad as we realized we forgot my mom on the side of the road. And, most importantly, I got to “know” them.
Now, I will make this disclaimer that I am so lucky that:
#1 I still have my parents on this Earth and that
#2 I have a very good relationship with them.
I realize that my situation, for the most part, is rare and that many others are not as lucky. But, even if you do not have a situation like mine, take the time to travel with your parents. Whether it be a week-long or day-long trip, take the time to travel and learn about the people that have made you who you are today. Our parents aren’t the superheroes we saw them as when we were little. They aren’t invincible. They are human, and their time with us is precious. During these “selfish” times, it is important that we stop and take time for the people that have loved us the longest. I know I definitely am going to.