As parents, we are usually aware that one of our jobs is to introduce the world to our kids.
This is a banana, this is a cat, this is hot, this is loud, this is your comfy bed.
In my years of raising my kids - and god, I loved those years - I deeply, deeply enjoyed doing that. Our house looked like a mini art studio, we often had friends over, and we made lots of little houses from refrigerator boxes. Even though it wasn't all peaches and cream every day, there was a sacredness to having the privilege of coloring three human beings' minds about the way the world looked, tasted and responded.
What I didn't count on, is that twenty years later, they would get to do the same for me.
I think it started the day my oldest son wanted to go skydiving for his 16th birthday. The whole thing scared me blind, and when I signed the release (oh my... was it ever a non-sugar coated release), I thought that maybe I was not all that sane. But up he went, into the air. I held my breath. Until the plane released tiny little colorful flower-like parachutes, one of them dangling my kid 8,000 feet above my head. And then, the glee, the joy, the high took me over. Sane or not sane, seeing my son float up in the sky made me crazy giddy. I was instantly infused with a powerful burst of freedom and I could not stop squealing and jumping up and down. Yes, I think that was the first time that one of my kids had truly lead the way for me to stretch into a new, scary part of my world.
A couple of years later, I joined my daughter in Brazil. I never had thought about going to Brazil, but that's where she was, so that's where I went. After a week, I could even start to say a few words in Portuguese!
Last year, my younger son walked through the security gates at the Seatac airport, and towards the plane that would take him to a new life, in France. My heart felt like a big fat brick. As he turned to leave, he choked me up by saying with a smile: "Hey, I'm going back to the Motherland." The Motherland, where I had not been in 16 years. At that time, just a picture of the Eiffel Tower made me cry. A few months later, I was meeting him there. And then again last month, with a beautiful group of people. No more crying, just a belonging. Because of him.
A couple of days ago, via email, he introduces me to an extraordinary artist, he met last week. Vincent Moon's world is big and immensely rich. I didn't even know the guy existed.
Last night, my daughter FaceTimes me from a tiny island in Thailand. Right away, I know I want to go. So now, I have a new excitement, a new piece of the world to go explore. Because of her.
I didn't know this would happen. I didn't know that one day, it would be their turn to be building little houses from refrigerator boxes for me to play in, all over the world, and in my mind.
This is a wonderful, wonderful surprise.