This blog was written in the sky somewhere between Spain and New York City after I spent a week helping our son make Seville, Spain his new home overseas. One might assume “Wing-mom” refers to a mom who banks sky miles to be with her children. You would be mistaken. Thinking Wing-moms don capes and leap tall buildings in a single bound. Wrong again—though pretty sure they could if necessary.
Here’s the truth, a Wing-mom supports her child to be their best self. She must be brave enough to encourage and allow their first independent steps and let go of the bike when they’re learning to ride. Her heart soft enough to break when her child’s heart does, but strong enough to heal them both. Wing-mom possesses the strength to fake a thumbs up as her child walks out the door to their first school bus, sleepover, date or drives away in the family car. She documents the “first” of every single thing with a vengeance. Her faith runs deep enough to step back and quietly watch her child make mistakes, yet be there afterwards to help appreciate the tough lessons. In summation, wing-mom is selfless enough to let her child grow up to be independent so they eventually have the courage to fly away from them.
Whether your child chooses to land down the road or across the globe the result is the same: They have physically left you. With seven long hours on this plane, I’ve determined this seems the oddest of rewards. You give your heart and soul, every ounce of energy and love you possess, spend so much of your time every single day raising your child to be successfully independent and courageous enough to have them leave? Somehow that doesn’t seem right.
It’s been happening for centuries, yet somehow I find myself surprised. All my mothering life I was the pilot, planner, protector, cook, driver, organizer, interpreter, leader and decision maker. This past week while traversing the medieval city of Seville, I downshifted gears. I didn’t lead, I followed. I did not interpret, I listened. There was no directing on my part, just support and encouragement. Honestly, I wish I had packed a cape because this was much harder than I anticipated.
If you know me, you know I like to handle things and make them right. But this trip was different. I needed to take a back seat, be the passenger and go along for the ride. I wanted him to struggle with me close by. I needed to see him get lost in the labyrinth of streets and find his way. I relinquished my need to “do” so he could lead the search for the right apartment in his brand-new city. Many times I bit my lip, but you know what? He not only managed, but thrived. He found his way for the both of us, opened up a bank account and an international phone plan. He found an apartment in a neighborhood he felt fit his needs with two Italians and a French guy, whose only common language amongst them is Spanish as their second language! It will be these memories I am counting on to fortify my heart when worry gets the best of me.
So as my plane flies further and further away from the little boy who refused to sleep over at a friend’s house his entire childhood, I am confident he will be happy in Seville, Spain. While he masters his command of the Spanish language, teaches English to little ones at a local elementary school and travels, I’ll go back home and throw myself into running The Stoutland Inn, but without the piece of my heart I left with my son in Spain.
your Wing-mom friend,
Moral: Time flies as do our children.
A little thing you should know: A few days prior to this trip I shared my worries with my Aunt. “How in the world will I find a clean apartment in a safe neighborhood and make it feel like home in less than one week? I cannot even speak Spanish. I am so worried I will not be able get this done.” Her response was immediate, powerful, and heart changing. “Allison, that is not your job. You are his wingman, his support and safety net in case he should fall.” And she was oh so right… thank you Aunt Nancy!