Friday, March 31, 2017

Pilot Wings

At the end of January I embarked on one of my most ambitious journeys yet -- I flew from Charleston, SC to Lafayette, LA by myself with three children under the age of five. Needless to say it was exhausting, but 100% feasible. I looked like a small traveling circus and received many looks of encouragement and pity in the airport, and the one question I kept getting was, "Where are you going?!"

To which I would reply, "It's my grandmother's 90th surprise birthday party and I HAVE TO BE THERE."  

Thanks to beaucoup frequent flyer miles that Keith earned working in the tax industry, we all flew for free. (Talk about a major blessing, one of many the Lord has given us over the past few months.) So off we went, and while the task seemed daunting, I was excited. 

You see, I love the airport.

I love the way it smells.

I love the hustle and bustle of travelers and often wonder where everyone is flying off to. What are their stories? How are they feeling?

I love seeing the planes take off and land.

I. love. it. all. 

As someone who one day hopes to be an aviator, I was anxious to see a female pilot. She didn't have to be flying my plane...I just wanted to see one in the flesh. This may sound weird, but women only make up approximately 5% of commercial pilots, so my desire was a long shot. 

I am sad to report that I did not see any women pilots in the Charleston, Lafayette, Atlanta, or New Orleans airports. Which wasn't that big of deal, but something happened that made me feel incredibly confused, and if I'm being honest a little angry. 

On our flight from New Orleans to Atlanta, I asked a flight attendant for some pilot wings for my kids. The older two love flying and really wanted some so that "they could fly their own planes when we got home." As she pinned the wings on Gavin, she said, "Here are your pilot wings!" and then she turned the Arabella and said, "And here are your flight attendant wings!" 


This here pushes my buttons. Now, the flight attendant was incredibly sweet and I'm sure completely unaware of what she had said, but I immediately noticed. So, because Arabella is a girl she should limit herself to being a flight attendant, but Gavin is a boy and this means that he should be a pilot? 

What the actual WHAT? 

Maybe it's because I want to be a pilot myself and am well aware of the statistics of women flying in this "man's world", or maybe it's because I don't like my children being placed in a box. Whatever it was, it had me bothered, and I exited the plane with more determination than ever. 

Determined to continuing pursuing my goal of being a licensed pilot. 

Determined to support my kids in whatever they want to do. 

Determined to be aware of my words and not to place judgment on others.

It was a harmless comment, but one that I will always remember. Not in anger, but with fondness...because while stereotypes exist, it is an empowering and beautiful thing when you can utterly shatter them.

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