For the last twenty months, my third-born baby girl has been living in Vietnam.
"I don't know how you do it," Well-meaning friends and acquaintances often cluck their tongues and shake their heads in pity for me. "I couldn't stand it if my daughter lived so far away."
Well, let me be clear. I don't always love the 7,028 miles that separate me from my girl. Sometimes, it's hard:
When she had her impacted wisdom teeth pulled.
When she crashed her motorbike.
When she sang in a Christmas concert
When I make her favorite dinner and wish she were sitting next to me, enjoying every bite.
But I also find a lot to celebrate about my daughter's bold and courageous spirit of adventure.
* * * * *
Baking is a big deal in our family.
Ever since my girls were old enough to stand, we included them in the creation of snickerdoodles, apple pies, birthday cakes and countless pans full of brownies.
There were tiny aprons involved.
And plenty of measuring and stirring and recipe-checking and finger-licking and good-natured squabbling.
And flour spilled everywhere.
As the girls got the hang of baking, I quickly learned to back out. Leaving my kitchen in their competent hands, I would often retreat to my bedroom and deal with some neglected task up there while listening to their merry chatter through the floorboards below.
In those moments, I often daydreamed about my future grandchildren, and how someday they would carry these fine family baking traditions forward to a new generation and multiply my efforts to spread delicious desserts throughout the world.
* * * * *
However, to be completely honest, I never imagined that my third-born would move to Vietnam and live with a family of native Koreans.
I did not foresee the sweet relationship that would spring up between her and this family's ten-year-old girl.
I couldn't know that my daughter would invite Sally to share her love of baking.
And never, ever, in my wildest dreams, would I have guessed that pans full of our favorite brownie recipe would spring forth from a little Asian countertop oven and fill these faraway hearts, minds and tummies with their chocolaty delights.
And that is why I happily support my daughter's life in Vietnam. Because you never really know how your own dreams might come true.
Photo credits to Sally, who will someday come to America and bake brownies here with me.