By anyone's standards, I'm a conservative mother.
You can spin it anyway you want using language like...she enjoys having a pulse on her kiddos...she's actively engaged in the day-to-day details of their comings and goings...she loves knowing them like the back of her hand.
Or, you could say...she's a helicopter mama with a high need for control who has a hard time letting others get involved in the rearing of her littles.
And you'd be right on all fronts.
So, today was a big deal.
And to be fair, he didn't fly by himself. My 13-year old nephew was with him...but no adult, hence, the unaccompanied minor status for both.
I know that people do this all the time. In fact, I grew up doing it. My parents were divorced and I got on planes with my little brother to visit my dad.
But...well...um...this is my kid and this time around, I'm the parent.
Last night and really all this week, Sam and I spent time sharing all of the things that he was excited about doing...swimming, fishing, golfing, Nerf gun warring with the cousins, eating loads of cheese pizza, learning to play poker and staying up really, really late.
I told him that I was feeling both excited and sad thinking about missing him, to which he replied...It's okay to be sad because you miss me, but don't be sad worried that I'm not having fun or really that I'm missing you. You should find fun stuff to do while I'm gone. It's kind of a cool time for you too.
And I sat stunned.
He's right. In the end, this is what kids want. They want to know that their parents will always be there for them, when they need them. Simultaneously, they want to fly, literally and figuratively away from home to have new adventures and to discover treasures that they can call their own. And while they're gone, sometimes indefinitely, they want to know that their parents are happy and aren't sad that they've flown the coup.
This is our job...to love the hell out of our kids while they're under our roof, to encourage them to try on new ventures and to reassure them that we have our own lives pursuing our own passions while they're gone...and, that we will always be here as their rock when it's time to land or to fall.
It was a wake-up call. And even as I write the words, it seems like such an evident, ridiculous concept to type. But for me, it's real for the first time, because for so long my passion has been them. And the time is evolving to rediscover my own wholly exempt of them.
He didn't cry. He didn't even look back as he descended down the walk way with the "Unaccompanied Minor" sign dangling from his neck.
With tears in my eyes alone, I watched their plane lift into the sky and said, "Be safe, have the time of your life, you are loved, and I will be more than fine."