"Yes" Is Easy in Theory, Not in Practice


Yes, sweetheart, you should definitely go study in Spain for ten weeks. Absolutely.

The answer “yes” is always easier when it’s somewhere in the future. It’s a little tougher when the time is here.

Ellis leaves in a matter of days. Four to be exact. She’s sitting beside me now looking at last minute travel information. This time next week, I’ll be sitting here without her.

Of course, we’re usually without her because she’s in college most of the time. But that’s only five hours away. I can make a drive up and back in one day if I have to. She’s home for a weekend here and there. And I can always FaceTime or text or call.

Not this time. This separation is different. This time there will literally be an ocean between us. Seven time zones.

Yes, she’s brave and strong and competent and prepared and organized and confident and smart and much more. And yes, I encouraged her to be all that.

I’ve watched her do scary things before. She used to ride a 2,000 pound thoroughbred at breakneck speed through open fields and jump solid objects. She used to hook up a horse trailer to her truck and haul her horse to lessons an hour away by herself. She spent last summer at a camp in North Carolina taking campers out “on trail” for several days at a time where I couldn’t hear from her. Then on her days off, she hiked in the Blue Ridge Mountains by herself where, as my mom would point out, there are bears.

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I like to think I’m going to be fine, but I’m not sure. Every time I tell people about her plans, they ask how in the world I can “let” her go do that. They ask if I’m scared or anxious or nervous or terrified. Yes, I’m all of those.

But excited, too. I’ve been mostly excited for her as soon as the opportunities of traveling overseas during college were on the horizon. I didn’t study abroad during college and it’s always been one of my great life regrets. If you had asked 18 year old me what I would do with my life, “travel” would have been my answer.

But I didn’t and I haven’t, so I have encouraged my kids to. My oldest daughter went with a group in high school to Europe. She traveled by bus to Mexico with a friend to visit her family. Then she had the chance to do research in Madrid for five weeks last summer. I hope she continues to see more and more of the world.

And now it’s Ellis’s turn to finally leave the confines of the borders of the United States. And all that encouragement I gave her to make overseas study happen, it’s culminating in her departure in four days. The departure of this strong, competent, prepared, organized, smart girl will be the beginning of an adventure that will change who she is and how she sees herself and her place in the world.

And even though I’ll cry as I leave her at the airport, I will have to practice what I preach. But that “yes” I gave back then was a lot easier when it was kind of hypothetical and way in the future. Now it’s here and it’s real.

So my answer to those people who ask how I can let her go is, I don’t really have a choice in the matter. There’s no other answer than to say, yes, go. Go, see, do, walk, climb, eat, breathe, listen, learn, change and grow.

There’s no other answer for any of us. We should always say yes.

But remember that “yes” is a lot easier in theory than it is in practice.