This quote popped up in my Facebook feed this week. It made me smile. And it kind of made me tear up. Erin and I have each spoken before about being brave … and this week, as a parent, I gave some thought to how that happens. How do you learn to be brave? And where does that come from?
I have just had the kind of parenting week where this particular quote, from one of the bravest and best female role models, resonated. Let me share – hopefully I can make some sense out of it.
On Sunday night, my 11 year old daughter and I drove to the international Delta terminal here in Atlanta. My daughter brought a suitcase, a carry-on, and a binder with a well-articulated itinerary, a credit card, and a passport tucked inside. She is the kind of kid that is tall, and confident, and well-prepared for the red-eye flight ahead of her, as well as the 2 weeks beyond where she would be travelling with grandparents and friends. I thought she and I were both good to go.
Soon enough, the gate agent approached us, and it was time for her to board the plane. She gathered her things, gave me a big hug, and walked down the gateway. I just about sobbed right there in the terminal, but instead I gave her a hug and a thumbs up. I proceeded to find a place to sit down, and I waited and watched as her plane loaded, pulled out of the gate, and eventually took off into the sky
I drove home after she took off. It was well after midnight. I cried in the car and went to bed when I got home. But I did not sleep.
I was surprised. I expected to be fine. But I wasn’t. I was awake ALL.NIGHT.LONG.
I just kept thinking about the little girl that lives inside of that big-girl shell. I wanted to make sure she was safe, and not scared. Pre-teens hover between these places. I knew she would be fine – she was not even aware of the invisible safety net of flight attendants, family, and even local friends to whom I had reached out “just in case she needs something”.
The next morning she landed, and all was well. Her grandparents met her, my daughter was safe and sound.
Ah – but what happens next was the best part.
She got to Paris, met her grandparents, and then started to actually experience Paris. The first night, they toured Notre Dame. Then she sent me the sunset photo I posted above. She ate crepes for dinner. Today, she had croissants for breakfast and saw the locks on on the Pont des Arts bridge (before they are removed… next week!).
All I can think to myself is this. She. Must. Be. So. Amazed.
Also, as her parent, I keep thinking about something even bigger — she has NO IDEA that this is changing her life.
But I do.
It turns out that THIS is maybe my favorite part of parenting… the part where I get to escort my child right up to the edge of this big, amazing world and then watch her take it all in, in whatever special, unique way she’s going to do that.
HERE. YOU. GO.
Today she sent me a photo of her favorite work of art from the Louvre. And told me about the meal of preserved duck, potatoes and onions that she ate for dinner (her hashtag was #trysomethingnew – so funny).
And it’s right there – she’s learning to be brave… simply by seeing, doing and trying new things.
As I’m watching my daughter’s experience this week, I can’t help but find both inspiration and satisfaction. Because what she really does not know is that she’s going to need and use the same strength that she is literally trying on and growing as she experiences this week in Paris to do so many other things in her life.
I’m starting a new job in a few weeks – and when I walk in the door on my first day, it’s not going to feel much different to me than how my daughter felt when she walked onto the plane this week. The difference, however, is that I’m an adult. So I have “walked on the plane” over and over, and as a result I know I have what it takes to go do it again, without a safety net.
Erin and I talk so often about how to raise our daughters to be strong, confident, and bold. To be do-ers. And even though watching my daughter walk on the plane this week made me weep at the airport (and in my car) – and stay up all night worrying – I think it was a good parenting week. We’re both good to go.