Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I came to a huge building known as “The Worriers’ Warehouse.” In my older age, I worry more than ever. So I went inside and immediately noticed an older reindeer nervously biting her hooves. It was easy to start a conversation:
Hey Reindeer, what are you worried about?
RUDOLPH’S MOM: My son Rudolph.
Wait. Are you telling me you’re Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’s mother?
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Yes. And I’m constantly refilling my Valium prescription.
Why? What could you possibly be worried about? He’s Santa’s personal assistant! You raised this heroic, caring reindeer who pulls a sleigh filled with presents to children all over the world.
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Christmas Eve makes me crazy for the entire year. It takes me 364 days to recover from it.
RUDOLPH’S MOM: How would you like it if your son flew across the sky all night lugging a five billion ton sleigh filled with gifts? What’s holding him up there anyway?
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Not the most reassuring concept for a mother. What if he makes a crash landing?
I never thought of that—
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Or if he doesn’t crash, what about his physical health? He’s dragging a sleigh full of gifts for kids all over the world with just a few other reindeer. He could pull his back out.
I see your point.
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Not to mention, my Rudolph could pass out from exhaustion! Thirst! Hunger! It’s a busy night! No breaks! Very high pressure! And I know him! He’ll never say no!
Another point well taken.
RUDOLPH’S MOM: And what if Rudolph has to fly through a blizzard? Or a tornado? Or a severe thunderstorm? Who knows how high those reindeer go? My son could be hit by a meteor! Or slam into the moon! He could—
All this makes complete sense, but you’re not alone. I worry about all kinds of things with my adult kids, too.
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Like what?
Bad relationships, lack of relationships, driving at night, driving too fast, driving when the sun is rising and blocking vision, driving when the sun is setting and blocking vision, traveling in planes, buses, trains, taxis, living on pizza, needing help when there’s no one around–
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Okay, okay. We’re on the same worrying page.
But with all that, I also think we’re giving our kids one big, giant, great gift.
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Oh good. Because I never know what to get Rudolph for Christmas. What’s the gift?
The gift of freedom. That way, our adult children can DO all the things we worry about. They have a chance to figure out where they belong in the world. When we don’t call or text them every five seconds or stalk them on Facebook, we’re letting them go. It’s a gift. Even though it kills us inside.
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Well in that case…why can’t we just say to ourselves we raised mature, intelligent beings who can take care of themselves and make good choices? What if I stopped worrying about my millennial reindeer so much?
What if I stopped worrying about my adult kids so much?
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Would something be missing from our relationships with our children?
Yes. Our connection.
RUDOLPH’S MOM: Are you sure about that?
No. But I worry about it.