My 10-year-old daughter is going away on her first school trip next weekend…without me. It’s a one-night, two-day group trip up to Sacramento and San Francisco that involves a plane ride, an overnight stay in a hotel and two very busy days of historical outings and highlights.
When the trip was first presented to us back in September (when she was only NINE!), we looked at it together, combing over the dates and the itinerary and the costs, and I told her we would see if we could make it work for us. She paused at the word “us.” She looked me square in the eye, a hint of hesitation and a lot of heart in her voice, and asked if she could go alone.
I paused at that moment. And I don’t think I have let go of that pause yet.
With more than a hint of my own hesitation, my husband and I talked it over and decided to let her go. I tried my best to argue about safety, communication, cell phone signals…anything to justify not letting her do it.
But clipping her wings wasn’t going to make mine any stronger.
So she will go.
She will leave on a plane without me. She will load her things through security and tuck her backpack under the seat in front of her and securely fasten her seat belt. She will ride a packed bus with all her friends and see the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf for the first time and eat six square meals and sleep in a hotel room and apply her own sunscreen (maybe)…without me. She will get her first taste of real independence. And she will probably like it.
I will spend the weekend with my phone glued to my hand. I will text to check in. I will text the chaperone mom she has been paired with to check in. I will probably check the weather and plane trajectory 17 times. I will lose sleep that night, worrying about her night terrors and if one might possibly come on due to stress or fatigue or just my bad luck. I will try to talk myself out of checking in again.
I will give her those wings to fly but I will also be standing by if she needs me at any moment.
I think that’s what motherhood is about, in a lot of ways, right? Letting them fly, with or without you, even if it gives you pause. And then being there to catch them if they fall. And to cheer them on - and yourself, for that matter - when they don’t.
With your phone glued to your hand.
Happy Mother’s Day, friends. I hope you have a great one.