Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Traveling by Air

In one of my favorite books on child rearing, Operating
Anne Lamott wrote something that stuck with me. I’m not sure of the exact wording but, in my
memory, it goes something like this:

When I say my prayers at night, I pray that my son is happy. I pray that my son is healthy. I pray that my son changes the world for the
better. But, most of all, I pray that
my son outlives me.

This rings so true with me. I desperately want my children to be happy, healthy, productive human
beings who find love and joy in their lives. I also want them to enjoy their childhood and learn, from my husband and
I, how to be a good wife, husband, Mother, and Father. There is absolutely no doubt that I have
these aspirations for my children. If I
am to be 100% honest, though, and acknowledge my deepest fears, what
I want, more than anything, is for them to survive me.

The second I became a parent I became completely
vulnerable. My heart is no longer
inside of my chest. It is outside of my
body, beating in the rib cages of my children. For me, being a parent is like traveling by air, with worse
odds. You strap yourself into your
seat, make sure the tray table is in its upright and locked position, and put your
safety and well being wholly in the hands of the pilot. Has he been drinking? Most likely not, but stranger things have
happened. Is he tired? Maybe, but he’s got to earn a living. We pray that our children are healthy and
make the right choices in life. They
are bound to fail just as we are bound to fail as parents. The best we can do is tighten our seat belts
and provide our children with the skills necessary to fly their plane safely to
its destination. We pray that they
enjoy the ride and, most importantly, that we reach our destination long before
they do.


  1. Ahmen. (In many many ways we have had part of that prayer answered numerous times, and, like you,we have always hoped to be survived by our children.)

  2. This is my ultimate prayer for sure. I do sometimes think, please let me live to see them grow up. It would be nuts if they didn't have my influences growing up. I see how Ben clings to me when I leave the room, when he calls my name, I just can't imagine him searching for me and Trey uuuughh, too much. Just got to live and not worry about these things, but as many of us moms do it does creep up occasionally!!
    I have bear witness to several people who have lost a child as many of us have, it is sad, but life goes on. My Stepdad lost one of his sons to cancer at 42, friend's of my moms lost daughters to cancer and one to a accident on a jet ski. Anyway, life goes on.
    When teaching Autistic children how to communicate my mentor at the time said "seize the opportunity", no doubt that can be done in anyones life!!!
    Ok, bathtime!!

  3. You touched on my worst fear as a mother.
    I know I still suffer everyday without my Sister yet I look at my Mom and wonder how she has survived after experiencing such a loss. Knowing how her heart has suffered has instilled a deep fear within myself that the same fate will fall upon me.

  4. Papa Dale-
    I'm sure you do feel that way, especially considering some of the trouble your boys got into. It's a bit of a miracle, don't you think?

  5. Kathleen-
    I agree. Life does go on but I am certain it is never the same. I would imagine it is like living in limbo.

  6. Angie-
    I think we all have that fear. I know that I sometimes look at my life and think about how vulnerable I am paralyzed by fear. That's the price we pay as parents and women (who tend to over-analyze everything and consider every possible scenario). This parenting thing is a bumpy ride but so worthwhile. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

  7. I remember how I felt when Cora was born and I relayed it to my sister, Jennifer, when she was about to have her first baby. I told her tht you can't understand the love that you will have for this little person. I never thought I could love anything so much, it's almost scary. Scary because it leaves you feeling vulnerable. If anything were to happen.... I can't even talk about it. Thanks for touching on this.

  8. Joann-
    I know. We are all in the same boat. They have no idea how much power they have in their little, 30 pound bodies!