4: The Wind Beneath My Wings

4: The Wind Beneath My Wings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

The Wind Beneath My Wings

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.

~Luciano De Crescenzo

I sat in a giant hotel ballroom full of mothers and daughters. My arms were crossed and I was scowling. The Mother’s Day brunch was as elegant as could be. Beautiful round tables were covered with white linen tablecloths, real silver utensils, and fancy china. There were beautiful floral centerpieces. All the mothers and daughters were dressed in their Sunday best. I was too, even though I would have much rather worn ripped jeans, a soft T-shirt, and a side ponytail.

Ugh, I thought, why can’t I be anywhere else but here?

Some other mother’s daughter started singing a beautiful song about her mother. She hadn’t even made it through the first verse and my mom already had tears in her eyes.

Before the song, the girl had proclaimed that her mom was her confidante and comfort and the wind beneath her wings! That was nice for that girl, but I didn’t need my mother’s wind beneath my wings. I was thirteen years old, and I already had it all figured out. I was ready to fly… on my own.

And fly I did.

I spread my wings and sailed off to college in a different state.

I glided into a new job without ever looking down.

I swooped into a marriage with the man of my dreams.

I fluttered through my first pregnancy and flitted through the first few years of motherhood.

And then my second child was diagnosed with autism. The skies were no longer clear, and I came crashing down. My wings were broken, and I could not fix my little girl. My mom swept in and did all the right things.

She read the research and made her own version of CliffsNotes for each book. She took my older child out for special dates, so that he could continue to live a somewhat normal life. She came over to watch my kids when I needed a nap. She babysat for my daughter, who was a danger to herself and needed to be watched at all times.

She packed up and cleaned my house when we moved to a new district with a better special needs school for my daughter. She painted rooms in my house when we needed a change. She gave us money for therapy when we ran out. She came over when I called, and kept her distance when I needed space. She even babysat for several long weekends so I could keep my marriage intact.

That was when I realized it. My mom had always been there, huffing and puffing, blowing and fanning the wind below each of my life’s events. Her wind was a gentle wind. So soft and so subtle that I never knew she was there… until I needed to know she was.

And now she is teaching me how to be the wind beneath my daughter’s wings. My dream is no longer to fly alone. Now my dream is to do all the things my mother did for me for my daughter without her even knowing it. I will work and sweat, worry and pray, and take no credit when my daughter flies high in the sky. I will put myself second, always taking care of her needs before mine.

My daughter is thirteen now, and I think I will take her to that same Mother’s Day brunch. I smile as I wonder if she will be thinking she would rather be anywhere else, wearing jeans and a side ponytail. I know that I’ll have tears in my eyes, too, if someone sings a tribute to one of the other mothers. Because now I know the true joy of being a mother — being the quiet wind beneath my children’s wings.

~Julie Hornok

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