One thing that I have learned the hard way is that fathers worry about their kids. Now, I am not a "worrying" type of guy, and have always considered myself fairly impervious to circumstances, just rolling with what came. Then my daughter was born in 1997, and things changed.
Suddenly, I worried about diapers, food, bugs, and pretty much anything else that came along. The birth of my first son in 2000 did nothing to slow the worrying down. All of this was highlighted by a trip to Estonia in June, 2001. Our son was 9 months old, our daughter was 4, and Debbie and I went on a "survey trip" to Estonia, scouting the region out, to determine if we would want to move there as missionaries. Plane tickets were pretty pricey, so we decided to let our daughter stay with her grandparents for the 10 days, while we took our son, since he was so small. We were flying out of Dallas, and the grandparents lived in San Antonio, so we dropped her off and began the drive to Dallas. I made it about 5 miles and had to pull over, weeping. I was terrified that something might happen to her and I would be 8000 miles away, helpless.
Of course, I don't normally resort to such breakdowns - that was a fairly abnormal situation. But I do still worry about them all the time. Since our third child, another son, came along, I figure that just gives me another layer of worry.
So what prompts this post? Last year, our daughter went to Camp St. Raphael for the first time. Can you believe that she would be in Oklahoma, while I am still down here in Texas? So far. So many things that could happen, without me nearby to "fix" it. This year, not only is she returning to camp, but our oldest son is going, too! Imagine the fear that has crept into my bones! They will be alone (that is defined as being further than 10 miles from me).
But the reality is that our children grow up. I did it (at least physically). So did you. Our parents had to let us grow up and face the world on our own. I still get shudders thinking of what my parents must have thought when I got a drivers' license. I can not always be there to "fix" everything. In fact, I can't always "fix" everything, even when I am right there with them. They have to learn to be independent and make decisions, without my immediate input. That is life.
I guess my analysis of this is that I have a control issue. I actually think I am in control of my surroundings. Of course, that is hogwash. I once spoke to Father Matthew MacKay (Memory Eternal!) about my fears in this regard. He laughed and told me to get a clue - I am not in control anyway. He was right. My fear has much less to do with my children and much more to do with me. I have to remember that I am no more in control than my children are. I just have more experience at it. The reason I have the experience is because my parents let me. I should do the same.
Ultimately, I have to trust that my wife and I have taught our children well, equipping them to make good decisions and to face life head-on. I must trust that God IS in control and that He loves my children. Plus, they will have a great time at camp, with other Orthodox kids, making life-long friends.
I'll still worry while they are gone, though. I look forward to the day they get back!