02/10/2015 04:36 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

My Son Has One of the Most Dangerous Jobs in the World

The Boy has embarked on a new journey. He has accepted one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. He is now an Alaskan bush pilot (I suppose we should now call him "Captain The Boy").

The Boy at 16

This is something he has wanted to do for a long time, and though I'm beyond-words proud of him for realizing a dream (and working extremely hard for it), I am not thrilled by this turn of events at all.

The Boy began flying at thirteen and I fully admit to trying everything I could to stop him from pursuing it. But his passion for flying soon made me realize that I would be wrong to let my fear and selfishness get in the way of my child's dream.

Talk about passion: He built his own plane at age 10!

I've since learned that parenting and comfort level rarely peacefully coexist. And he is an adult, so it is not my place to make decisions for him - as much as I'd like to.

When he graduated college and his buddies spread their wings to start working at airlines and cargo companies, The Boy continued his crazy talk about bush piloting in Alaska or Africa. With that goal in mind, he stayed on at the college as a flight instructor for a year to build up his flight hours.

When he applied for the Alaska job, we were visiting him at his home and he and my husband, David -- knowing I was going to freak out -- sat me down and tried convince me that I needn't worry. Yeah, right.

After all, they said, flight instructing has to be more dangerous. You've got novice kids behind the... Wait. WHAT?! Nobody told me about the hazards of instructing, but then again we do have a pact to not discuss those sort of things in front of me.

Captain The Boy's new job requires him to live in a town that is only accessible by air. He then flies people, food, medical supplies and mail to areas also only accessible by air. Bush pilots are truly a lifeline to many.

The scary part is that the airstrips (in the places that have them) are primitive and the weather conditions are hardly ideal. And it's really remote. And huge animals venture out in front of the planes. And... I really need to stop Googling "bush piloting dangers."

As a mom who is fear-and-guilt based, a product of my seriously old-school Eastern European Catholic upbringing, if something goes awry I'm going to blame myself forever for letting him fly in the first place. What kind of mother allows their kid to become a pilot?

I spoke to The Boy's big sisters about my fears while visiting them last week and they both assured me that it would have been wrong if I hadn't let him fly - he would have been miserable. They are really proud of the man their brother has become and applaud his adventurous spirit.

Like my daughters, I need to learn to do more applauding and less fretting. My worrying does no one any good, and I'm positive that The Boy would love to start regaling me with his adventures rather than convincing me of his safety constantly.

On the plus side, he works a two-weeks on/two-weeks off schedule with jumpseat privileges, so he can easily meet up with us, visit his sisters, or fly off to exotic destinations with his pilot buddies during his free time.

To deal with this new situation, I'm going to act as if all of his time is his free time. Yeah, like that'll work.


Author of Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All

YOUR TURN: Would you allow be thrilled if your son became a bush pilot? Any suggestions to help me overcome my fears?