Thursday, December 28, 2006

Skies Not So Blue

Becoming a mother was a watershed moment in my life. I know people who are born to be mothers, women who have envisioned themselves with babies and children since they were little girls playing with dolls. Not me. For one thing, I named all of my dolls the same thing when I was young. Clearly I was not cut out for a mothering career (though I was not quite as bad as my sister, who carried her favorite doll around by the hair until it looked like some demented pixie.) Even my husband once said that he feared I would be a terrible mother. Let's see, self-centered, severely lacking in patience, driven mad by the slightest noises or touches - yep, not really a checklist for the cover of Mothering magazine there.

But something happened when I first became pregnant. My life became infused with a joy that I had not known before. Oh, I was always a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of person, but motherhood brought a day-to-day happiness that, even on days when my children are taking me to the teetering brink of insanity, swirls around and through every encounter, bringing a kind of blessedness that I suppose the truly religious must feel. In short, as Viggo Mortensen says in one of his fabulous books of poetry and photography: "Kids are God; Pay attention"

But then there are days in every parent's life when the skies are not so blue. Pain, to an adult, is a terrible thing. But pain to one's children, whether physical or emotional, is almost unendurable. It's the kind of thing that keeps one up at midnight, staring at the ceiling, a pit of dread in your stomach. Yesterday was one of those days.

One of those days when your kid has gotten a remote controlled airplane for Christmas from Grandma, something they've wanted for a very long time. And you read the instructions carefully, and test the controls, and take it to a huge big field on a calm day, and do the ground tests that the instructions recommend, and it launches perfectly, but then as it goes up, you realize that the sky is not just overcast, but actually foggy. And the airplane starts disappearing into the foggy clouds, at which point it loses contact with the radio controller and it's going farther and farther away, so you take the controls from your distraught child to try to get it back, and it crashes into an area of houses. So you go over to the houses and spend a considerable amount of time peering into trees and over fences into backyards and knocking on doors, but you never find the plane. One of those kind of days.

All in all, he took it very well. He didn't scream or cry or throw a fit as he might have done even a year ago. He was heartbreakingly stoic. And, because a large measure of the fault of this inaugural flight lays with me, I have promised to find him another one. And next time we won't be so blinded by sheer enthusiasm, and we'll wait until our neighbor can come along, who flies RC planes and can help us get it squared away.

And of course, we'll wait until the skies are truly blue.

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