Eight (hours) is enough - if you're 20

July 29, 2007|By LYN WIDMYER

Your 20-year old daughter is spending the summer volunteering at a local hospital outside Managua, Nicaragua.

In addition to her own clothes, she must transport free medical equipment, carry gifts for her host family and bring her own assortment of first aid supplies.

When does she start packing?

A. One week before she leaves.

B. One day before she leaves.

C. Eight hours before she leaves.

This is too easy for anyone with a 20-year-old child. Of course the answer is C.

Molly had to leave for the airport at 5 a.m. Monday morning. At 5 p.m. on Sunday, I asked as casually as possible, "DO YOU REALIZE WHAT TIME IT IS? You have clothes to wash, suitcases to be packed, toiletries to be assembled!"


Molly lifted her head from the sofa and answered thoughtfully, "Can you move, Mom? I can't see the TV."

I was hyperventilating by 6 p.m. I corralled every suitcase in the house so she could choose the right size.

I combed the house for unopened tubes of toothpaste, packaged toothbrushes and unused lotion packets for Molly's host family.

I printed out copies of all the information from the program sponsor, Engineers for World Health. I poured myself a glass of wine and tried a few cleansing breaths from childbirth days.

Molly finally disengaged from the sofa at 7 p.m.

"Mom", she said as she stepped over my carefully constructed mounds of toiletries and suitcases spread across the dining room floor. "A friend is coming over to say goodbye, then can we go to Wal-Mart? I have a few things I need to buy."

BIG cleansing breath.

By 9:30, Molly was ready to go to the store. I went with her, dutifully pushing the shopping cart as she selected essentials ranging from deodorant to granola bars.

At 10:15 p.m. Molly started packing. She decided to look over the recommended packing list.

For the next hour, I performed like a crazed contestant in a scavenger hunt, scouring the house in search of the listed items that she needed.

I know, many of you are wondering why Molly did not take the list to the store. You obviously do not have a 20-year-old daughter.

By 11:30, I was exhausted and said my farewells.

The Good Parent (my husband) was taking Molly to the airport at dawn and I did NOT plan on waking up to say good-bye.

As I drifted off to sleep, I remembered those awful days after Sept. 11, 2001. I truly thought my children would never know the freedom of traveling outside the United States.

I thought fear and terrorism and violence would make world travel impossible.

I am so thankful that is not the case. The future of world peace is learning about and appreciating other cultures. Molly is blessed to have that chance this summer.

When I walked into the dining room the next morning, I was greeted by unused luggage, clothes that were never packed and empty plastic bags from Wal-Mart.

Question: When does a mother start missing her 20-year-old daughter?

Answer: As soon as she leaves.

Lyn Widmyer is a Charles Town, W.Va., resident who writes for The Herald-Mail. Her e-mail address is

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