…but do they know?

Yesterday I was talking to someone who is visiting Israel on one of those programs that exist for young people. When I asked if she would be coming back to stay, she said to me, “My parents miss me.”

Ah, how tender! Her parents miss her. I am sure they do. She is a delightful person. But more important than the fact that they miss her is the fact that she knows it.

I was immediately struck by the realization that I never could have made that statement. Did my parents miss me when I was gone? Sometimes I think the happiest moments of their lives were when they were dropping me off at camp or at some weekend experience. When I returned, there was never the feeling that I had been missed. In fact, it seemed like my re-entry constituted a sort of intrusion.

Did my parents love me? I’m betting they did. My mother in her own hung-up way probably did love me. My father in his very quiet, very gentle way, I am sure loved me. But did I know it? Did I feel it?

I think about my own children. I wonder if they felt that kind of love. I wonder if they knew that I missed them when they were gone. I wonder if my oldest son knows that I cried half the night when we left him in Atlanta to attend school there. I wonder if he knew the joy I felt when he came home for weekends. I wonder if my daughter realized that the day I went to pick her up in Oklahoma City 100 miles away, when I brought her back for a surprise visit to the States, I sobbed most of the way to the airport and practically jumped out of my skin when the plane was late. I wonder about my other children too, whether they know how many times I have spent days and nights worrying about their safety as they traveled to strange places, as they served in the Army and reserves, as they traveled on dark roads past Arab villages. I wonder if they know how much I love them.

Parents’ love is strong and fierce, but sometimes our gentle, laid-back manner belies the passion we feel for the safety, well-being, and happiness of our children. How can we let them know?

It seems that some parents know how to do it. I’d like the recipe, please.

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  1. I can’t get past how much that picture of Ben reminds me of Elihu and Elisheva… And sometimes it’s hard to miss your kids when so much else is going on… We’re always happy when Hadas comes home, but sometimes when she’s away I don’t think about it too much. When I suddenly miss her, I send her an email or call her. I think she gets it.

  2. Sruly Cooper says

    One has to wonder when a adult (or nearly adult) child makes a comment of this sort. My thoughts are ‘will this person actually become their own person’? Will they ever become independent enough to live the life they really deserve or will they remain so smothered that they miss out on the fantastic journey Hashem has made available to us? It’s all a matter of choice’s.

  3. OK . I am uniquely qualified to answer some of these questions. Yes, your parents did miss you. And they did love you.
    With your father, it might have been more evident, but your mother loved you as much as she could in her way. And your sister? Well, obviously.

  4. Hugs work miracles. Tell your children to hug their children. Then pass it on.