My duo are 9 and 12, so it hardly seems fitting for a novice parent like myself to share wisdom on children ‘taking flight.’
Yet what I recently came to realize, is each stage of their growth is to help prepare us for their flight. Not to be confused, I both know and completely understand that nothing can truly ‘ready’ you for the day your child leaves home. I do, however, recognize that even when they’re young, certain things are hard as we try and hold on just a wee bit longer.
I’ve shared before how blessed I feel to have an abundance of ‘mentor’ moms. Many of which have now sent their babies off to college and a handful who now are watching them pursue careers. It’s a crazy thing, this ‘growth’ thing our children insist on doing. Time indeed does not stand still, which is why presence is so very important.
This, however, is not a piece about presence, but a reminder to myself and any others who made need it of the importance of the ‘flight.’
As the mom of a 9- and 12-year-old, the most recent lessons in ‘flight’ school have come in the way of sleepovers, going to the park and walking from school to a designated meet spot. Granted the 12-year-old helped prepare me first for the sleepover, but it is now a bit odd and rewarding to have both children away on the same night as they enjoy time with friends.
This of course offers PIC and I a nice reprieve and/or date night, but it’s still a little odd as it does offer us a foreshadowing of what’s to come.
Prior to having children of my own, a girlfriend shared with me how hard it was to find her own thing once becoming a mom. Her husband encouraged this, as he enjoyed quiet time on a bike and felt she would benefit from a reprieve just as well.
As parents (more specifically mom), it’s easy to get caught up in our children and our role/job as their well … Everything. We drive them, feed them, change them and help them from day one, so naturally transitioning from ‘that’ person to their post flight instructor is not easy.
What I’m learning as the novice, is that each of the stages brings with it a bit of heartbreak as well as pride. No longer being needed is hard when you truly enjoy being their everything. I’ve often shared with friends, had I started having children earlier and not faced struggles my home would be filled with more than two.
As an only child myself, watching the dynamic of two children and fostering the love of family, ‘team’ and all that this means undeniably brings me the most joy. As an only child, I learned that ‘family’ is not defined by blood or genetics, but rather commitment and undeniable love. This too is what my children know.
We have an awesome ‘family’ and they have been fortunate enough to watch many take ‘flight’ and learn from them. They’re two little people blessed with some beautiful role models, as they themselves look to the future and embrace the notion that anything is possible.
So what does all this mean?
In truth, I have no clue. At least once a week I text a picture from the past to my PIC with a tear face emoji. We recognize they are growing and we must release the reins a bit. Flight is important. Independence and empowerment is critical.
Our goal is not to steward two humans that cannot manage without us, but rather choose to return to us when needed. The goal is what I return to time and time again. Remembering words once offered to me by my daughter’s namesakes’ mother.
Children are not ours, they are not possessions, they are human beings. Our job as parents is to serve them, to steward them so that they may go out into the world and not just live but leave a lasting impression. That is the job we have been put to task.
So for those of you reading this who have recently returned from a drop off at college or delivered a mattress to an apartment or studio, congratulations and hugs to you. Not everyone is up to the task of Flight School. Not all serve in a way that empowers their young to make big choices and branch out.
Independence is hard to teach. Letting go … not always easy and as we all know, they are always our babies. This I know for sure, just ask my mom.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.