Mile Marker 30


A few months before my daughter turned 16 we went on a trip that taught me a lot about Miranda and what she was capable of on her own. I will add that I learned a few things about myself as well. I was looking for a different kind of experience for us, one that might challenge us in new ways and decided on an Outward Bound family experience in Colorado. Truth told, I can’t remember if she really wanted to go, but off the two of us went anyway to scale mountains and do a bit of river rafting.

Parts of it were challenging at times (rock climbing) even for a mom with military training, but Miranda sailed through it all with a confidence that seemed strong and steady with each new activity.

After backpacking to a remote site where we camped together as part of a larger group, the final exercise in our week together was designed to be a solo overnight camping experience away from the rest of the group and the instructors. As we were packing up to go, one by one the teens were given a choice to camp with their parent or go solo. One instructor went round the circle checking with each teen and all said they wished to overnight with their parent except my daughter who chose to camp solo.

I have to admit I felt a twinge of parental sadness at first and then a surge of pride remembering that this was not just about me as I tried to balance the knowledge that she was growing up and developing a separate identity, along side with my fears about our changing relationship. Intellectually I understood why differentiation was important, but it was still a difficult time and I’m sure my fear made it harder for Miranda.

The instructors dropped us off individually walking us into places to camp where we would not encounter anyone else. We were told not to go beyond certain areas using natural markers such as ” that rock or this tree “ and told that if we were to come upon another camper to turn around and walk quietly away so as not to disturb someone else’s experience. We would be left alone until the instructor came by on foot to get us the next morning and we were encouraged to write while we were in the woods and set up a place to sleep. We were given an opportunity to take easy to eat food with us or fast with only water until the next day so fires and food prep would not be an issue.

I set up a tarp to sleep under and rolled out my sleeping bag. I was thinking about the week we’d had together and writing before it grew too dark to see when I heard some rustling on the perimeter of the space I’d been “ assigned. “ After a bit more movement, I saw Miranda walking out of the woods towards me. They had dropped us off in a way designed to keep us from knowing where the others were and while I knew they were all out there somewhere, I was not sure where anyone actually was.

Miranda walked over quite casually and said something I remember as, “ Hey, I’m going to sleep soon and I wanted to say goodnight. “

I was surprised that she’d found me without not knowing where I’d been left and it touched me she’d stopped by to connect for a minute and say goodnight. Doing so let me know she was fine and that she knew how to find me if she needed me. It might have been a small thing, but afterwards I felt more peaceful about our changing relationship than I had before the trip.

People often say that life in general and parenting in particular should come with directions or a road map of some kind, but the truth is most of us just muddle through doing the best we can. If we’re lucky, we can recognize if we take a wrong run or get lost, and most of us can right ourselves fairly quickly after a well placed word from someone who knows the way forward.

As Miranda turns 30 today I want to say how grateful and impressed I am to have been both a guide, and the guided in the life we’ve shared, and how proud I am of all she’s accomplished. Here’s to new adventures and future road trips!

Happy Birthday, Miranda!

Bridge Building & Invitations


I tend to be pretty competitive, but not with everyone.

When it comes to those close to my heart … I let a lot slide.

In those relationships, love is always more important than winning.

That’s not to say I don’t feel disappointment, I just try not to linger there too long.

I can be a relentless bridge builder when a misunderstanding threatens a relationship.

But it doesn’t always work and it’s no good pushing too hard.

Sometimes all I can do is build a bridge and offer an invitation to the other side.

After that, I let go.

How do you handle disappointment in relationships. 

Speaking My Language

In yesterday’s post, I talked about Love Languages and how we communicate and said I would be back to share the results of my assessment with you. It’s no surprise to me that of the five areas that Gary Chapman identifies in his book The 5 Love Languages, the one that ranks highest for me is what he refers to as, ” Acts of Service ” with “Words of Affirmation ” close behind.

I have included a couple of photos of John doing the service part. While we were home in Atlanta for Christmas week, he raked and bagged all of leaves around the house I still own in Atlanta. I did not even have to ask. I had arranged for the man who cuts the grass to do it, but he was waiting until after Christmas and being concerned about how shabby it looked and how it might be affecting the grass, I decided to do it myself. There were some immediate things I needed to attend to inside the house first and by the time I was ready to move outside to the yard work, John picked up a rake and attacked the problem by himself.

I know this front yard looks tiny and you’re thinking, ” How much work can that really be? ”  The back yard is only a little larger, but the leaves seem to multiply or get blown in from my neighbor’s yards so it’s always a huge task every year and one I usually do alone.

John did all the work without a single grumble during or after and when it was all done had 40 bags of leaves lined up against the fence. That’s exactly what I mean by ” Acts of Service. ”  I think the quiz is especially useful when you think you may be saying or doing all the right things to show your love, but your spouse or partner is acting as if they are not feeling it.

For example, giving me an expensive gift is never a good way to show me love especially if money is tight because I will just worry about the cost. Worry = stress which is never a ” gift of love ” for me. Men might be surprised how many women feel this way. I have jokingly said many times that when it comes to seduction, a foot rub can be way more effective than a diamond bracelet for most women.

How about you … did any of you take the assessment?