Room to Grow

I may be an overprotective, overly-accommodating mother.
At times I have questioned if I am, and now that my oldest daughters have returned from a month long trip to Europe with their grandparents and their cousin, I’m pretty sure it’s true.

Claire, Kate, and cousin Francesca in Paris

Kate (15) has always been picky with her food, and I have always accommodated her.  We buy our milk from one store, because she says milk from other stores tastes weird.  She has basically taken the same lunch to school every day for over five years.  She doesn't like pizza.  She doesn't like the different foods on her plate to touch each other.  You get the picture…

So imagine my surprise and delight when I received multiple texts from her telling me that she ate veal and mashed potatoes, lobster and shrimp, stinky French cheese, kidneys and frog legs.  OK, the kidneys grossed me out, but I was amazed!

Claire (13) left as a pescatarian (a vegetarian that eats fish and seafood). I also accommodated her, often preparing a piece of fish alongside whatever meat we were having for dinner.  Well, she came back a carnivore!  On her first day in Europe, she decided not to be a vegetarian anymore. During her trip, she ate all kinds of meats, including the kidneys and frog legs.  And, she now drinks coffee - she likes it black.
I find myself asking them now, “Do you like such and such?”  Because I honestly don’t know.  They have changed.  Kate wants to start eating hard boiled eggs for breakfast.  Go figure.  
They rode a gondola in Venice and donkeys in Greece.  (Katelyn complained because her donkey was lazy.)  They visited Ephesus, Pompeii and Verona.  Katelyn texted me, asking, "Did you know that the book of  Ephesians was a letter Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus?"  I could hear her excitement in her text.

They spent time in Alsace, the place in France where my father-in-law grew up, and met their relatives. They saw the church where their grandparents were married almost 50 years ago. They toured the Sistine Chapel, and I got this text one day from Claire:

      We went to the Sistine Chapel today, we had to wear shawls.

      Funny story, the art in the chapel doesn't follow the dress code AT ALL

And Claire made this fantastic video in Rome:

They learned to adapt and be flexible.  They washed their clothes in their bathroom sink.  They did some shopping and brought us back great souvenirs, staying within the budget we gave them.  And as I feared, they had a few bad brawls, but they figured it out.  Without me.

The thing is, my girls were ready for this.  I didn't know it and at times I worried that they weren't.  But they have come back changed, a little more grown up.  

For the first several years of their lives my husband and I told them stories about our childhoods, our travels and our experiences.  But it’s a wonderful thing when your children begin to have experiences without you. Now, I want to hear all about their adventures. I want to hear their stories, see their 1000+ photos.  I want to learn from them, because they have now lived, in some ways, more than me.  

They have seen places I may never see. Tasted foods I may never taste.  And in spite of being an overprotective mama, I feel truly happy. Happy that they got to see their grandmother laugh until she cried. Happy that they survived my father-in-law driving them across France. And happy that they have a dozen inside jokes I will never get.