The skies looked a bit stormy for a while. Dark shadows rolled across the sky and you could see rain clouds in the distance. He wasn’t worried. I was worried enough for both of us. But, when the time came for take-off, the blueness opened up above us and beautiful cotton clouds filled the sky. I stared through the metal fence, wanting to climb over the barbed wire and onto the runway. I wanted to grab his hand like I used to when he would wander a bit too far. But, the taxiing had begun…..there was no turning back. Sure, he hit a few bumps along the way, but all in all the take-off was smooth and off he went into the wide open sky. My baby’s first steps to becoming a pilot.
I’m having a “mom crisis” of late. As my last post said, I have one son venturing off to college in seven weeks and my youngest, Harrison, is getting his wings, literally and figuratively. I’m usually not like this. I was never an emotional mom. I wasn’t one of those hovering moms when they were toddlers. But, as they age, I’ve gotten worse. I see them becoming these strong, independent young men and all I want to do is bring them home to make cookies and binge on Disney movies. I want to tuck them into their bunk-beds and get perturbed at 3 in the morning when one of them yells for mom. I miss the days of Tom and Jerry and Legos digging in my feet.
Then, today my youngest passed his driver’s permit test. Just one more cog in the wheel that carries him onto adulthood. I’m trying very hard to do that tightrope balancing act we moms do. Don’t hold too tight……don’t let them fall too hard. As I sat in the pilot’s lounge on Sunday, waiting for my son to land, I kept thinking back to the times when he was a child. He always seemed to need me more than my eldest. I remember a night when he was barely a year old. I woke at 2 AM to the sound of a screaming child. Harrison was in bed with me, as I was still breast feeding and when I got up to turn on the light, all I saw was blood…on the wall, on the floor, all over his face as he lied screaming on the floor next to me. One trip to the E.R. and some stitches followed. I felt like such a horrible mom. How could I let my baby fall out of bed?
Fast forward two years and he and his brother were playing in my room, when I heard a loud thud and a scream. Another trip to the E.R. and an arm sling for two months for a broken shoulder bone. Again, terrible mom. When he was 10 and a very good competitive swimmer, he was having some issues with a swelling, blue arm. This turned out to be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and he had to have rib removal surgery at Johns Hopkins. Seeing him lying helpless on a gurney while an anesthesiologist put my baby to sleep was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. But, he pulled through it like a champ. Like he always had.
Add to all these things, the speech problems….recurring ear infections…..OCD and general anxiety diagnosis…..severe depression and intensive psychotherapy……and I think it’s obvious why I’ve grown into this neurotic mother who wants to follow him around just in case he needs me. But, now that we are in the teenage years, he doesn’t need me. Or should I say, he doesn’t WANT to need me. He wants to be the pilot of his life and I’m pretty much grounded to be the guy who pulls the plane into the hangar once the flight is over. I don’t even get a co-pilot seat anymore.
It’s a funny thing to watch this person that you gave birth to, nourished with your own body, bathed, changed their diaper, become a man. I want to shelter him, but I want him to grow and find his wings. I want to save him from hurt, but I know that hurt brings change and growth. I look at him sometimes and I still see that beautiful little blonde boy smiling out from the teenage face. How did time go so fast? How did my little guy become this amazing young man? I take pride in the man he has become, but I miss that little boy who needed his mom. So, for now, I’ll be a silent backseat pilot. One who can reach over and help steer when the skies get rough, but will be along for the ride no matter what.