I have just booked a family holiday in Menorca at the end of May. We didn’t think we would all plan to go away together again after the last time we tried it! In the photo above Sam was 18, wanting to be cool and independent – he spent the week either in his room with the door shut or in the pool with a girl he met! He growled at us, while Rebecca, just 21, took over the apartment with the kind of mess only Becca can make… and there wasn’t a lot of space with her on the sofa-bed, so all in all it wasn’t 100% relaxing for anyone. There was a hailstorm too – I have a photo of ice crystals on the balcony sun-bed! But we did manage some beach time, pizza and paella outings, a bit of island exploration and much-loved repeat Lord of the Rings showings on TV, all piled up on the sofa together. Plus the kids’ old babysitter lives nearby so we could visit her and Menorcan husband in their lovely home. In fact, looking back at the pictures, we had a memorable and fun week in September 2005, despite the normal tensions created when grown young people have their own ideas and mum and dad are just ‘annoying’! It’s par for the course during adolescence, as doting parents adjust to the individuation of their offspring. “But that’s it, from now on, you go on your own holidays and we’ll go on ours!”
The years since then have hardly been normal for Sam, but in a season of respite and rest, looking for ways to have a break together, it seems appropriate to return to ‘the scene of the crime’ this May. We need somewhere reasonably familiar for some quality time as a foursome, if it can be done. The favourite old babysitter is still there, now with two little ones of her own – the older one just turned 5, is named Sam: behold the generations moving forward! Thanks to her contacts, we’ve found a place with more space(!) in one of our favourite resorts and even better, Martin can again fit in a week at the sailing school on the north coast. I’ve even juggled the flights so Becca can join us later on from Gatwick, after an all-important gig she simply can’t miss. Hurrah! Everyone happy, Mother scores again – and Father pays…? Well the credit cards can carry it for a while, I suppose. At least we have something to look forward to and I have the added satisfaction of one of my plans ‘coming together’ – at least until something happens to alter it. But for now I bathe in grace, for now I am happy and blessed in advance.
But beware! Holidays can be quite tricky – remember! They are always a mixture of planning and luck and don’t work without the kiss of grace. Don’t let the expectations carry you away! With us four in one place for 10 days it won’t be plain sailing (excuse the pun) and there will probably be some friction, especially if I fall back into ‘Mummy’ role! It’s hard to look after everyone in a foreign place when we all have our own needs… Plus I don’t suppose Menorca in May will be warm and sunny enough for me, sadly 😦 Never mind, we may be lucky – and I’m sure we’ll make use of the pool and dare to dip in the Mediterranean anyway, in daring Dyer fashion – brrrrr… (See what I did there? If I am pessimistic to start with I can’t be as disappointed! ;-))
Is it really my responsibility to look after everyone anyway?! I’m a wife and mother, so I can’t really help it… must be ‘nurture’ and all that. Should be OK as long as I make sure I look after myself too, get the balance right. I must remember the lessons of last time, and especially those learned over the last few years with Sam at home and Becca moving away. They are no longer children! I am always ‘mother’, always there for them, but if I don’t let them stretch their wings and learn to fly for themselves, make their own mistakes, find their own way, I am doing them a disservice. That’s what the Lord does for us, the Mother God – shielding, guarding, protecting and pushing the young out of the nest so they can fly, catching them as they fall!
‘In a desert land He found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.’ Deuteronomy 32v10-11
Should say She really… Guess those male translators couldn’t quite come to grips with God as Mother Eagle – or perhaps it was the male writers in their culture of female oppression. Can you believe I saw a Christian young woman on Channel 4 last night in a 5 minute slot after the news, saying that God says women should stay at home with their children and not go out to work, anything else is selfish? Interesting interpretation of Titus 2v4-5: ‘(the older women) can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.’ Ah! the personal, pastoral letters of Paul, the ones most women love to hate. I have just 2 words: interpretation and culture. Yes to nurture and freedom, no to slavery and rules for all! But I digress…
By God’s grace and all being well, we will return to the lovely Islas Baleares on our (grown up) family holiday. But now, though I still keep watch, I will do it from a distance. I reign in my heart and anxieties and bring myself to peace, choosing to trust the autonomy of my big, intelligent, sensitive children and commit them to the Lord’s care. They are ultimately His responsibility, so I let go, back off and draw the necessary, healthy boundary lines.
If the journey with Sam son has taught us anything, it is that.