I made it! I flew by myself from Maryland to New Orleans… with four children… 18 months to 8 years… alone. I have to admit that I was hoping to have a crowd of people cheering for me when we all exited the plane in nola holding up signs that said “Way to go!” or at least handing me a gold metal for the marathon that I just completed.
I also have to admit that I was completely full of anxiety when my husband and I decided that he needed to go on an important work related trip, which meant that I would have to fly back from Thanksgiving vacation by myself with our four lively children. I have never flown with more than one child alone, which as we all know can be a challenge in itself. I had flashbacks to one plane ride where I flew with our daughter Adi, seven months at the time, by myself; I remembered the challenge of trying to hold a crying baby, a diaper bag, and a carry on and the shock that no one offered to help.
My anxiety about flying affected my whole Thanksgiving trip. I imagined my 18 month old screaming and throwing food and toys on the plane, my 8 year old teasing his siblings without remorse, and my other two hitting each other until everyone on the plane questioned my credentials at being an effective mother entirely.
And then there was getting through security…
I had many comments throughout the weekend that were all meant to be supportive remarks such as “You can do it!” “You’re capable” “You’re a great mom!” But there were no encouraging words that actually pumped me up for the experience.
It wasn’t until the plane ride home that I realized I had it all wrong. It wasn’t about whether I thought I was capable of going on a airplane alone with my four strong-willed children. I knew that I’d survive this stressful situation like I have with many others. It wasn’t until mid-flight when I looked at all my peaceful children (well, for that moment) and realized that it wasn’t about believing in myself at all (although I should have more faith). Rather, it was about believing in my children that would help me have the strength I needed to get through the rest of the flight.
As I stared at my kids, I realized that I often become anxious or irritable because I am not looking at and appreciating my children’s strengths and believing in their unique abilities to face life’s challenges. And if I didn’t believe in them enough, how could I possibly expect my children to have the confidence to believe in themselves and their own capabilities. After all, if I would have taken the time, I could have focused on how much I love Elyon’s (age 8.5) eagerness to always want to help, Itai’s (age 6.5) ability to make his siblings laugh, Adi’s smile and joy of life, and Liat’s easy going nature.
As I sat there on the plane, I decided to try to make it a priority to express more often to my children my confidence in who they are. And I hope in my next moment of angst, that I allow this knowledge, of each of their beautiful qualities, to give me strength to face whatever challenge lies in front of me, as a more relaxed mom.
What surprises have your children afforded you lately?