Let’s face it, these days, these summer months, are not filled with time for quiet contemplation or the solitude necessary to write. The hours are filled with noise ranging from laughter to tears to squabbles to blood-curdling cries of sibling deceptions. Oh yes, I am the mom who wished for these days and eagerly checked the boxes off counting the moments until we got here. And I’m still the mom enjoying our light schedule, not packing lunches, and skipping showers for days(the pool and hose rinse all the summer dirt off, right?). Anyway, one of my points is that when my life is loud and my mind is busy, I find it hard to write. So forgive me for being absent from this space that tends to be therapy for my soul and please prod me to write more if you see me in person.
But while I’m here, I want to tell you about this moment that left me feeling like a good mom…a really good mom. Two weeks ago we flew out to Seattle. To my adult friends, I’ve kept no secrets about my larger-than-life fear of flying. I dread it. I sit with my arms and legs crossed tracking the progress of the flight on the little screen in front of me. I make bargains with the Universe and play little games in my head. Like, if there’s not an announcement in the next five seconds we will make it there alive or if the seatbelt sign stays off while I count to ten everything will be okay. It takes every ounce of my being to not hyperventilate and reach for an emergency exit. But when you fly with four kids, you have to be a mom. Suddenly I can’t numb my anxiety with Benadryl or several cocktails. I need to be present. I need to be cheery. I need to be entertaining. And I need to keep my kids from seeing my fear. And somehow, during this trip and our recent trip to California, I did just that. After our second to last flight that flew completely across the country and had two of the children in tears because of the awful turbulence, one child sick to her stomach and needing to go to the bathroom even though the seatbelt sign was illuminated, a bored little boy who scared himself watching Jaws and refused to watch anything else, and a husband sitting across the aisle from the children quietly watching The King’s Speech, I felt like a good mom. I calmed fears when all I wanted to do was get ready to secure the oxygen mask I was certain would be falling from the ceiling. I worked with the flight attendants to find creative food options when almost nothing was left for the family of six in row 57. I stood in the bathroom with a crying eleven-year-old as she tried to brace herself over the toilet during a most bumpy ride. I raced through the airport via foot and then via train with a barf bag just in case to make a connection that had us sitting apart from one another. I traded seats and got most of us together and watched a lightning storm from the plane window and pretended it was fireworks. And I was a good mom not because I took care of my childrens’ basic needs but because they didn’t see my fear. Somehow I calmed them and told them everything was okay while every cell of my body told me the opposite. Because, really, if I give my kids nothing else in this life that we are shaping together I just want them to feel safe…and loved no matter what.
And now that I’ve written these words praising myself and my parenting skills, I promise you I can write a thousand more about all the ways I’ve been an impatient and worst-mom-in-the-world during these warm summer days and how my mind is preoccupied and not living in the moment…but that’s a blog for another day.