Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What if They Fly?

Half way there I stopped dead in my tracks, "Maybe this isn't a good idea."
"We don't have to do it." Husband answered swiftly because he, too, was unsure about the decision we were making.
"I just feel like maybe we're rushing this."
"We could still turn around." 
I'm writing about this in real-time, as in, this just happened real-time so the wound is fresh. I'm still sobbing over our decision. As a very normal person, you'd think I was crazy. But I'm not a normal person. I've always bordered on the side of crazy and have pretty much eclipsed the moon of emotion and 3 years ago, almost to the day, I took a giant leap further into both abysses. That was the day I became a parent and would forever live in crazy and emotional.

Today was the first day I dropped that child off at school.
I didn't handle it well.

Don't let the smiles fool you; it was a hard day for both of us.

Husband and I have wavered with this decision since last year. We wanted (and still want) to take advantage of living in a Spanish speaking country and enroll her in a Spanish speaking school. I feel confident in saying she is bilingual; although at the moment she prefers Spanish, but I know a time will come when English takes the lead so I want to immerse her in my family's native language before that time comes.

I've continued to waver and stood on the fence of this decision up until the last moment:
Waking her up this morning I thought Maybe her not waking up on her own is a sign that we shouldn't bring her today. Walking to school I said, "Maybe we should just leave her home with Shelly (her nanny) and her brother." At school I asked the Director, "What if I decide that I don't want to continue with her at school." Still at school looking at Husband I asked his opinion, "What do you think? Maybe I should take her home." (I secretly hoped he'd scoop her up and carry her home; saving her from big, bad school, but really, saving me.)

I trust my motherly instincts now... most of the time. Most of the time they're good. But today, I felt like they were betraying me. Today, I think, my motherly instincts were about me, about my running
Though she be but little, she is fierce!
ahead into the future: when my child is a teenager and will want to be left alone, when my child is in college and can stand on her own two feet, when my child is a grown up and is no longer dependent on me. Today my motherly instincts were trying to mother me. To protect me. To help me understand how something so little can grow so fast. How it could be possible that she is already going to school?

My daughter is strong and resilient and brave and smart. I have no doubt that once she feels more confident in her surroundings she will run the place. She's that kind of kid. But she is also sensitive and kind and well-mannered and nervous in new situations so I expected her to act exactly as she did today. She was nervous and wailed when they took her inside. And there was no dam strong enough to hold back my tears either. I anticipated her reaction so thoroughly that I wasn't, at all, aware of mine. I should have been. I should have known my emotions were tied tightly to hers. But I didn't. I was blind-sided. If I'm honest, the only thing that kept me from a total breakdown is that I'm an adult and have learned to control my tears. That, and I put on my sunglasses so no one could see me sobbing relentlessly.

I try not to hover or helicopter. I try to let her find her own place and her own comfort in her own skin without me because I truly believe that kids need to fly on their own, even young little birdlings. But damn that was hard today. It was like I crawled inside her little body and felt all of the same things she was feeling and I wanted to make it so that she didn't feel any of those strange emotions that come with trying something new. I wanted her to stay safely in the nest I had created for her. I wanted to soar her away under my own wings.  I wanted her not to fly.

And as I'm writing those words in real-time, I'm having an epiphany right now, a Universe moment. I remember a poem that was put in my path recently, probably because the Universe knew I'd be in need of it today because the Universe often works like that in my life. I think about these four words that I've been holding onto for weeks; four words that are part of a poem but that even alone mean everything:

What if you fly?

"There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask "What if I fall?"
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?"
Erin Hanson

Oh, the power in those words, the potential.

This decision had opened up so many scary possibilities I had to face for my child as a parent. What if they're mean to her? What if she cries? What if she hates it? What if she's too young? What if it scares her? What if she thinks I've left her? What if... what if...

All of these what ifs just being versions of the same question: what if she falls? 

Taken over by the fear of her falling, I never considered the other possibility:

What if she flies?

And isn't that what I want to ultimately teach my children? Isn't that why instead of living a predictable life at home we've decided to live abroad? Or why instead of taking a teaching job, I've decided to pursue my writing. Isn't that why when she asks me if I have to go to work (a job that doesn't pay me... yet) I tell her I do. Because Mami is visualizing a life for herself that requires a leap, that requires me to try to fly? And that I can't think about the possibility of falling because flying is too important. Don't I want them to know that the fear of falling is scary but the possibility of flying is everything?

I sit here, not looking forward to Thursday knowing that Thursday I'll have to take her back to school and watch her struggle a little again. There will surely be another fall before there is flight but if I want her to know that flying is always worth the risk, then I have to let her fly.

I have to help her fly.


  1. love this post. It's so hard leaving our little ones.... my first day dropping my girl off at daycare I could have cried all day... she loves it and is learning more than I ever expected!

    1. I know what you mean. That whole day whenever someone asked me how i was doing I broke out into tears. And the second day was no easier. We'll see how thi week goes. Fingers crossed. Thanks for stopping by and reading along. :)


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