I told you yesterday about Apra’s first big journey without us: two nights and three days, off to Khajuraho with her uncle and great-grandmother! She had such a great time – oh, and what about us, her Ma and Pa?
I already told you that we had talked to Apra before she left about falling asleep without us. We knew that this would be the most difficult time for her. We explained her that we would not be there and she would not be able to come to us – but she insisted that she would not have a problem. While we thought she would not miss us during daytime at all, we wondered whether we could say the same thing about ourselves!
Once they had left, we had a very strange feeling: for the first time in three-and-a-half years, Apra was not with us! Only then we realized in how many little actions we take care of her and involve her! Of course she did not come into our office to distract us from work and of course it was rather quiet at mealtimes. It was however the small things that showed us how much we missed our little one: when you speak in low volume in the morning to avoid waking her up – while she is not even in bed. When you realize you changed the room for a telephone conversation although she was not even there to speak into your other ear while you are listening!
Oh yes, we missed her a lot. I know a lot of parents say it is wonderful to spend a ‘childfree weekend’, time without their children. We did not really feel like this. I think the main reason is that we don’t miss anything while she is here. We do everything we wish to do and we enjoy everything with her! There was nothing that we ‘could finally do’ once she was gone!
While we were obviously sad to see her cry the first night, much more than that we felt happy and tremendously proud that she had gone on this journey, that she had slept without crying or missing us the second night and that she had come back, bubbling over with all the adventures she wanted to tell us about!
She has learned so much on this journey! She can grasp the concept of distance a bit better, understanding that after a long drive in the car, you cannot just be with your Ma and Pa in the evening. She learned that she can ask someone for help when she doesn’t see her uncle around for a moment. She also learned that she should not walk off on her own without telling anybody about it… an invaluable lesson, I am sure every parent will agree! She has learned thousands of other small things, too, which you can just experience when you are not at home.
I believe it is the first step towards the kind of independence I want to give my child. I want her to know that we will always be there, no matter what, a safe haven to return. An anchor for security – but no chain that binds her to what she knows is safe! She should be free to go and explore this world. She should follow this excitement for a journey and new experiences. In this way, I believe, she will learn more about the world than we can ever teach her, just sitting in our Ashram! We will travel with her, of course, but there will be a day when she will not only travel with her uncles but also on her own.
I know I will be proud on that day – and I also know that I will miss her terribly!