My two children are taking their first flight without either parent. Hardly a big deal, I know. Plenty of kids fly solo. And it’s not as if my girls are alone. They have each other. Plus, Peyton is 14, perfectly capable of making her way through an airport. And Katherine, 11, enjoys being in charge.
Flying solo. Just thinking about it gets me all Hallmark-y. They’re off. They’re leaving the nest. They don’t need me anymore. Come to think of it, I’m the one who will be left flying solo. Obviously, they’ll be back, but I can’t seem to stop the waterworks. Is there Botox for tear ducts?
Adding to my pain and suffering, the airline charged an extra $100 for their tickets because they are “unaccompanied minors” in need of assistance. That, even though I’m walking them directly to the gate for the one hour, non-stop flight. I’m the one who needs assistance. An in-house shrink would be nice. Or perhaps a pinot grigio? Actually, make that a vodka.
As we wait at the boarding gate, I pace the blue carpet, swallowing the expanding lump in my throat, and text their father, my former husband: “I’m trying not to cry,” I type with my thumb.
“Oh no...try to stay upbeat...we’ll see them in a week and it will be good for K,” he texts back. I’m sure he’s thinking I’m overly hormonal. And he’d probably be right.
I check in with the girls, who are reading their newly purchased magazines: Teen Beat and Teen Vogue. If they are nervous, they’re not revealing much. Wish I could be so calm. Peyton, her hair braided in a single pony tail, is wearing an apricot peasant top, skinny jeans and metallic Jack Rogers. She looks chic. She looks...like the teenager she is. “Please don’t cry, Mommy,” Peyton says. “It’s embarrassing.”
Katherine is a full blown tween--neither here nor there. Her blond hair is in pig-tails and she's sporting chipped toe-nail polish the same hue as her pink Old Navy flip-flops. Unlike her sister, she has yet to be self-conscious about attire. She still plays with Barbies, but would never admit that to her friends. And even though she can cross the street alone, I like how she still reaches for my hand.
When the girls were younger, I constantly complained about sleepless nights, whining, interminable play dates. That’s when older parents would always say, somewhat smugly, I thought, “It goes so fast. Savor every moment.” Now those words don’t seem so trite. It feels like just yesterday Peyton was pedaling her tricycle down the sidewalk, a grosgrain ribbon clipped in her curly hair.
But those parents were right. It does go so fast--as fast as their plane barreling down the runway, about to take flight.