On Letting My Son Fly


My son was on this plane earlier today for his first flight as an “unaccompanied minor.”


In the nest that is parenting, it’s not easy to know when to tuck my kid under my wing and when to let him fly. The older he gets, of course, the more freedom I give him because by letting him try his wings, he gets to become who he was created to be.

But, see, the more he becomes that guy–the more I want to have him around!

This week has been a text book case of exactly what I’m talking about…


Mother Nature

We had a bit of a trauma at our house on Monday. Before you get too worried, I will tell you we are all safe and no one was physically harmed. But lightening struck our phone line causing an explosion inside the house within 20 feet of where I was sitting.

Fortunately my husband and son did not witness what I did because the pop and flash made me jump and scream. I went into a panic and ran to the front room where my guys were and hopped onto my husband’s lap.

When my husband went to investigate the extent of the damage, I huddled up with my son on the sofa. It was already clear to me at that point that, since I had been closest to the explosion, I was more upset by the whole thing than my son was. Our cozying up on the sofa, then, was clearly more for me than for him.

My husband came back and reported that the jolt fried our phone and its cord and it blew up our wireless internet router–the router literally popping open when it exploded.


Creature Comforts

Even as the storm raged on, my curiosity drove me to examine the fried equipment and the charred spots on the wall. Then the reality sank in about what I had witnessed.

And I panicked some more.

You know how if there’s a tornado, you’re supposed to find an inside wall or a closet to take shelter? Well, that was what I did. I found an inside wall right by my bedroom closet and I sat myself down there, hugged my knees, and rocked back and forth.

By this time even my son was wise to the fact that mommy was way more scared than he was. As I sat there all curled up in myself, my son brought me one stuffed animal and then another and another.

“Lamby wants to give you love-comfort,” he would offer.

And then, “Here’s Danielle-Bear to comfort you.”

Before I knew it, I wasn’t just hugging myself, I was clutching a dozen plush friends to my chest.


Story Time

“Mommy, maybe it would help if I told you a story?”

“Oh, I don’t know if mommy can handle listening to a story right now.”

I pondered the import of what my son had offered. I know my son is a great storyteller, but any time I ask him to tell me a story he seems annoyed by my request, and if he does tell me a story it is usually just a sentence or two. When I ask for it, he gives me something far beneath his ability as a storyteller.

But this time, he offered to create a story just for me!

I took a few deep breaths and said finally, “You know sweetie, I think I’m ready for that story now.”

It was a sweet story of a boy named Bob who was an only child. Bob and his parents went on a picnic and Bob made friends with some ants. Because, apparently, a story where the ants ruin the picnic is just way too predictable. No, these ants were friends with whom Bob willingly shared some crumbs from the picnic.

By the end of the story, I was feeling a bit better. I held tight to the stuffed animals and brought them to my bed to sit and try to calm down some more.


Nesting Instinct

Oh, to have been so needy to have caused this role-reversal between my son and me…I am the one who is supposed to build the nest, to shelter my baby bird and there he was flitting about to provide my comfort.

And in the way that I get to fretting sometimes about whether I’m a good enough mom, I began to feel guilty. It wasn’t  just for having a melt down that night, it was also for all the times that I have not listened well enough to my son, all the times I have gotten irritable with him, and all the times I have not done (or not done well enough) something for him that I felt like I should’ve done (or done better).

But then, all birds must leave the nest at some point. And I found comfort not only in what my son had done for me, but also in the knowledge that he was growing into the kind of young man that could be so kind, gentle, and caring.

And I thought ahead to later in the week when my son was scheduled to board a jet plane and fly as an “unaccompanied minor” for the first time in his life to visit my mother in Ohio. And I thought how much I did not want to let him go–not because I didn’t think he was ready, but because I just love that kid to bits and I love spending time with him!

All these feelings mixed and interplayed in my brain when I went to sleep for the night with many of the stuffed animals still nestled with me in my bed.



The next morning–mornings are always my slowest times of day–my son had gotten himself breakfast and came back into my room where I was sitting up in bed. The stuff animals who had stayed the night with me were still about me as I sat there.

My son picked up the big purple bear. Sometimes we call him Lotso, like the bear in Toy Story III, but sometimes not because that Lotso was kind-of a meanie. But since saying “the big purple bear” is a bit wordy, I will just call him Lotso. As my son turned Lotso over in his hands he rediscovered a seam that had burst on Lotso’s belly.

“Mom, when are you going to fix him?” My son asked in that irritating way kids do when they themselves are rather irritated.

I took a big, deep breath. It was time for me to get to do something motherly, responsible–even if this particular task was long overdue. “Bring me my sewing box. And where’s Lamby? I still need to mend Lamby too.”

In all, I mended three friends that day. It was the least I could do after they–and my son–had given me so much comfort the night before.


Another Fine Nest

Today was the day my son flew to Ohio. And it was stressful and exciting and sad and wonderful and I’m so proud and I miss him so much already. But I know he is going to have a blast with my mom and step-dad. At their nest in Ohio they will take good care of him and he will care right back and they will all be such a blessing to each other.

The three of them always have such a great time together. They go on wonderful adventures and they play hard and they eat ice cream every day. And my son and my mother are well-matched in their energy levels–I can never quite keep up with either of them!

So, this is good, very good that they get to have this time. As hard as it feels to me to let go, I celebrate my son’s chance to perch for a while at another fine nest.


Taking Flight

Right before my son left I gave him something of mine. You see, there is this one stuffed bear–Arty the Arctic Bear–that I got a few years ago in a gift basket with some bath & body products. Even though my son begged for me to let him have that bear, I kept it for myself–after all the gift basket was given to me! I love that bear and my son respects that it is mine.

As we were about to leave for the airport, I thought of Arty and I thought if there was one way I could show my love to my son it would be to send Arty along with him–for love-comfort on his trip. And I don’t really know if it is helping him, but somehow it brought me comfort to let go of Arty as my son took flight.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Terri on June 14, 2014 at 3:09 am

    Wow, Jen! What an amazing young man. For your son to see your need and being able to respond in such a caring, loving way is a credit to his parents. And, what a brave Mom you are. It had to be really hard to watch him get on that plane. You ALL should be very proud.

  2. […] Living in Texas has had its ups and downs for me. I’ve had the joy of getting better acquainted with my in-laws, and the honor of being with my mother-in-law in her dying days. I’ve enjoyed spending time outdoors more days out of the year. But I’ve also had the worry of drought, and the terror of lightening striking my house. […]

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