I took a huge trip this past week...more on that later...but it reminded me of a story that I want to tell....one that I think about often.
Many years ago, when my oldest was four and my second was 18 months old, we took a trip to NY. The night before our flight, actually early morning, my 18 month old woke up crying and after putting him in our bed; he vomited several times. Obviously he had caught a stomach virus and I thought to myself; there is no way I can go on this trip!
Long story short, we decided to go anyway. My husband was going on a work trip overseas, the kids and I were going to spend that whole time being with family all over the state of NY, starting with my brother and his new family in NYC. I couldn't just not go.
The plane ride was long and just awful. Three hours and 30 minutes of a fussy, grumpy, and all over just a miserable baby boy. Luckily, we were at the back of the plane by the bathrooms and I could just stand there and rock him, and try to soothe him the best I could. No more vomiting, thank goodness, but I felt the ire of those around me. He was never quiet.
There was one woman, she was probably the age I am now, who just made me cry tears of relief. She was in front of us and kept looking back at me with looks of understanding and compassion. She said to me in essence; "He isn't bothering anyone but you. Relax, it will be okay." Her kindness meant the world to me.
We landed and I was so relieved. Anything would be better than this flight.
As we were gathering up our stuff to exit, my daughter (who wasn't exactly being ignored by me, but sort of) stretched her little arms over her head and proclaimed with a big smile: "Mommy, this was the best flight EVER!" (She literally said it just like that).
Well, that was a different perspective.
The entire flight she had sat nicely in her seat with headphones on, watching cartoons on the screen in front of her. She had asked for snacks and drinks on and off and I had helped her with video choices, but for the most part, she required little attention. I think I laughed hysterically to myself with regards to her attitude until we deplaned.
I bring this story up and I think about it a lot because it very much relates to how I'm trying to approach parenting now. I feel like when my kids were toddlers, I was very much "in the weeds". JustJust trying to get by, obsessing over every moment, trying to control everything.
As they age, I cannot do that anymore. Number one, that isn't even remotely possible. (Was it ever really? I thought so). There is so much about them that I do not even know, much less, able to control. I am forced now, for the betterment of me, to take more of a "30,000 foot view" of everything. I raised good, hard-working, kids who can now be in the weeds of their own lives and let me view from above and help them from there. I needed to change my perspective.
Is this a shift in perspective which I am totally comfortable with? No, no it is not. Do I need to make this shift for myself and my children? Yes, yes I do. It has been hard the last couple of years with my older two to know when to hold my tongue and when to share my thoughts. It is almost a dance, in a way, of wanting to help and needing them to find their own way. A dance I struggle with all the time.
I do have the perspective now of that kind woman on the plane. She had a 30,000 foot view which helped me tremendously. I hope to do the same for another woman/mother/parent some day. Maybe through this blog, I will.
P.S. We did share the above stomach virus with a lot of the family we encountered after we landed, but in the grander view, it was the trip of many amazing memories. I see that now :-)