I’m a single mom. That is all I have ever known. My child’s father left us when I was only four months pregnant and didn’t come back around until more than a year later – when I filed for child support. So as my child’s father stepped up to the plate and began to show interest in parenting our son, a court agreement came into play. It states that I need to encourage my son to go see his dad four times a year (for one week each) until he is in elementary school, at which point it changes. Doesn’t seem so bad, right? Well visiting his dad doesn’t mean going across town or even across the state. For us, it means flying out to the East Coast which is about 1,200 miles away from our current residence – a 21 hour drive, a 6 hour flight.
For me, it’s been challenging to adapt to not being the sole parent and having to share my responsibilities with another person. So “shipping” my child off without me for a week long vacation, four times a year, scares the hell out of me. It’s not his destination that scares me, it’s getting there. I am so terrified that somewhere in the next 16 years of continuous flying, my son’s plane will be hit with a catastrophe. And if that happens, my life will be hit with one, too.
As a mom you don’t always think logically when it comes to protecting your child. I don’t think about what the statistics tell me – that only 1 in 29.4 million people are in a fatal plane accident each year, instead I think about my son being in a plane accident. Period. And how I, the person he looks to for safety and comfort, the one who has always been there for him, wouldn’t be there this time. I think about something horrible happening and that he would never come back home to me – to lay in my arms and give me sweet-scented snuggles. My mind goes to an awful place and I wonder if that’s normal…do all moms have irrational fears like this?
I think the hardest part for me to come to terms with is that I’m sending my baby into the sky with someone I don’t entirely trust – someone who wasn’t there for the most crucial time in my son and I’s life, someone who wasn’t there for over a year and half, someone who never called to check in. He was MIA. And no amount of pleading and begging for love, commitment, and support from him mattered. He just didn’t care. I don’t look at this man as loving open-armed person anymore, he scares me, and I doubt him. Which makes it all the more terrifying to put my most precious and fragile gift in his arms.
Then I think about all of the horrible things in this world – the terrorists, the bombers, the shooters…and how so many bad things happen in airports or large crowds. Am I blindly putting my son into a dangerous situation over and over? Out of his 64+ flights over the next 16 years, will something awful happen? My mommy-mind says there’s a good chance that it could. The more rational side of me talks me down off of the ledge.
All of my fears are amplified as my son takes his first flight ever without me by his side. I wonder how tough on him it will be, how well he’ll transition the next day, and I worry that his father won’t be able to read/understand his cues or take care of him like I do. I have reached out to God more in the last two years than I ever have; I’ve thanked Him, bargained with Him, cried to Him, and so on. But one thing that I am struggling to find with God and with myself is the ability to push my fears aside; trust that with all of the terrorists, nut jobs, and accidents in this world and in our airports, my son will come out of it just fine.
I know he will be safe.
But it’s constant battle within myself to believe the words I just placed before you.
It’s always been the two of us conquering the world together. It’s been us – the dynamic duo, two peas in a pod, two-of-a-kind facing the boo-boos, the giggles, and the hardships of parenting together…as a unit. And now my other-half is taking the biggest adventure of his little life and he’s doing it without me; I’m terrified that I cannot be there for him. Like clockwork, my logical side steps in and tells me that he won’t know enough to be afraid and he won’t be too upset that I’m not with him. But mommy-me? She’s writing this through clouded teary-eyes as she dreads the thought of letting her baby go.
I know at some point every mother has to let go, give up control, and trust that her little one will be fine without her there. But I never expected I’d be doing it so soon. I figured that his first sleepover or field trip would test my ability to let go and trust that he’ll be okay. But I never expected that at an age where he cannot even speak, he’d be flying across the country without me.
I’m sure that as the first few flights are successful, my faith will grow in the traveling agreement. And then as he takes his first flight as an 8 year-old without a family member around, I’ll feel every bit of this again, as deeply as I do now.
There are no guarantees in life. But when it comes to the safety of our children, I sure wish there were.
On days like today where my over-protective mommy-mind is winning, I need to be hugged a little more, I need my hand squeezed a little tighter, and I need a my logical mind to work a little harder. Because after all, I know deep down that every little thing is gonna be alright.