Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My Son Takes Wing

I’ll know in just a few weeks.   This is big, really big.  My 26-year-old son, Sammy, is joining the Foreign Service and in October will get his first tour-of-duty assignment.  He’s shown me the “bid list” of 73 cities where there are openings in the embassy or consulate: he had to rank them in order of preference and just turned that in yesterday. No guarantees he’ll be placed in one of his top or even medium preferences. First-tours are, thank God, not sent to war zones but there are definitely some places less than desirable on the list according to this anxious mom. (And some cities I’ve never even heard of, but that’s another story.)  

This is an ultimate case of giving your children roots and wings.  You have to live with where their wings take them and hope that the roots are strong enough that they will thrive and yes, miss you and stay in touch.

I am so very proud that my son wants to serve his country and that he has a spirit of adventure, and that he has successfully been accepted into a very competitive job. I am thrilled that his dreams are coming true. I am also sad, anxious and fearful. I will miss him terribly; he went to college in Maryland and has been living close to home, in Washington DC, since he graduated from college, a boon for me.  Even if we didn’t see each other every week or anything like that, I knew he was nearby and safe and of course we talked almost every week on the phone.  Now I’ve gotten a web cam and set it up so I can Skype with him wherever he is, but that’s not the same as an in-person conversation and hug.  I fear for his safety in a world full of conflicts and negative sentiment of varying intensities in some quarters towards Americans.  I worry that he might be homesick and isolated, though in reality he is a very social creature and makes and keeps friends easily. 

I want for him all good things—safety, interesting work, new friends from both the expatriate and local communities, a sense of self-worth, recognition for his achievements, a comfortable home sanctuary, a chance to see the world and realize the universality of human experience across borders, and much, much more. 

I wish for myself good Skyping, maybe a good place to visit him (and that my frequent flyer miles will be enough), and most of all the ability to sleep at night.

More to come…