I thought I was a pro. But I've discovered that no matter how often you go through it, no matter how many trips to the airport and frequent flier miles logged, you never get used to it.
Each trip is a fresh trauma. At the same time that you know that it is right and good and appropriate.
I thought I wouldn't cry, but I did. I thought I would be calm, cool and collected. But I wasn't. My son had leave from the IDF to come to his sister's wedding. I was glad he came and glad he was going back. Eretz Yisrael is a better place for him. I am proud of what he is doing and I hope to go visit in the fall. But when the hugging started, the tears flowed. It must have been an intense scene since some of the passers by asked if they could have hugs too. (I was too emotionally drained to think of a witty retort)
And I'm anticipating more of the same when I put my son-in-law, daughter and new baby granddaughter on a plane back to their lives in Israel. They also need to go (but do they really need to take the baby with them?). My son-in-law's study partners await him; as a couple they need their own space, their own apartment, their own friends and guests. Their own lives. It's also right and good and appropriate. But boy am I dreading that trip to the airport!
I'm not such an emotional person but the airport scenes seem to touch some primal maternal spot.
I know I'll cry when I send three more children to sleep away camp. Even though it will be a wonderful experience for them. Even though they'll make new friends and deepen their connection to Torah. Even though they'll have a good time in the process. If only they didn't have to fly...
If they fulfill our dreams and ambitions, they leave us. And it's good.
And I know I'll cry when I take my newly married daughter and son-in-law to the airport in August so that they, too, can begin their married lives in the holy land, immersed in learning. (I know I'll cry when I see the bill for all these flights!)
That's parenting. We cry because raising children is bittersweet. If they fulfill our dreams and ambitions, they leave us. And it's good. It's appropriate and it certainly reduces the food consumption and laundry! And yet we cry. For the pain. For the pleasure. For the gift of that intense connection.
I'm glad my children are leaving (that doesn't sound right!). It's a crucial part of growing up. Just as the Almighty admonished Abraham to leave behind his family and birthplace, to "go for himself," so too our children have to go for themselves, to fully realize their potential.
Children and parents need physical and psychological space. And I'm grateful that they're leaving on a positive note for productive reasons. (They're not running away from us!) It's hard for them as well; sometimes they even need a little push out the door -- the door that is always open to welcome them back whenever they need it.
Yes it's a good thing. It's a normal thing. I'm not alone in the experience, and I'm certainly not alone at Los Angeles airport! But as good as it is, I'm bringing lots of tissues for these remaining airport runs.