Our youngest has been gradually flexing her wings and travelling further afield, as you can tell from my expanding postcard collection. Her first trips alone took her to London or Manchester, but this last year she's started heading abroad - at first with others but then she announced that she was going to Italy ON HER OWN! This wasn't even going to be a 'met by a rep, stay in hotel' trip, but involved travelling from place to place, and staying in AirBnBs. At least it wasn't a week in Ibiza's hottest nightspots ...
OK, I admit, my first thought was to panic. Then I tried to reason myself out of it. After all she's grown up now, out of her teens, older than I was when I got married(!), but it's so hard to accept that our children have somehow become adults. She's used to organising trains and busses, so aeroplanes can't be harder. She surely knows how to look after herself when out and about in a strange city - she was away at uni for a year and has spent enough time away in British cities alone. Even my qualms about AirBnBs didn't really hold up - she'd done this, although not alone, and (see above) she's stayed in hotels alone. Also, our eldest has travelled abroad alone quite a lot, but as that's always been work related it somehow didn't seem to carry the same risks (illogical, but what can you expect from a mother?)
Ticking off my individual fears, I came to the conclusion that my worries stemmed merely from the fact that she was going somewhere I didn't know, somewhere I couldn't get to if things went wrong because I don't have a passport, and basically doing something I haven't!
So, coping strategies were needed. Firstly the wonders of social media. I couldn't be expecting her to phone every five minutes and tell us what she was doing, but the availability of free wifi in airports, restaurants and BnBs meant she could chat to us if needed, or maybe just do a 'check in' at a railway station or tourist attraction, which would let me know she was ok.
Secondly, sharing the holiday vicariously. Instead of making lists of everything that could go wrong, I tried to anticipate all the fun she'd have. Beforehand, this involved looking at the places she'd be staying, making sure I knew her itinerary, taking 'tours' round cities on goggle maps. I asked her to share more photos than usual on social media - this way I could see where she'd been, what the weather was like and such. Seeing the photos led me to another way of 'joining in' - finding her on Google maps. A lot of landmarks are instantly recognisable - the wonky tower in Pisa, for instance - or visible on Goggle's satellite view, so by switching to 'street view' I could pretend I was there. I even managed to find the spot she stood to take photos of Vesuvius. Yes, I know, some of this is a little like stalking, but being able in the evening to share in what she'd seen that day, made things easier.
Thirdly, distractions. From following my plans for a staycation to binge-watching all of Better Call Saul, having something to fill my time helped.
Fourth, major distractions. I'd been expecting all manner of things to go wrong during this trip, and they did - but here at home. My mother fell ill, though it turned out to be one of those 'not a problem unless you're in your 90s' things that both my parents suffer from occasionally. Then, from somewhere, I caught a stomach bug. Three days with hardly any food left me weak, half a stone lighter and barely able to think straight. By the time I'd begun to recover, it was almost time for the return of our intrepid traveller from her wonderful holiday.
Now my only worry is, when will she decide to do it all again?