Photo credits: Christina Sicoli, Unsplash
I’m the mother of two little boys who are now in their twenties. I don’t do much mother-ing anymore, but the fact that I’m still a mother will stay with me until the end. Here’s a comparison I make on the subject of motherhood. I hope you enjoy it.
MOTHERHOOD IS LIKE FLYING SOLO
“Oh, if they weren’t so cute, I’d send them back and get my refund,” some tease.
“How is it that they smell so good? I roll in the same field and end up smelling like a cow while they — they smell like morning dew,” exclaim others, “hahaha.”
These people are talking about their children…
Those not yet in the parent-club do some eye rolling and utter ‘as ifs..’ But for those already smitten by the likes of children the puppy-love faces with the knowing raised-eyebrows are priceless. So what is so mystifying about children, or better yet, what is so mystifying about becoming a parent? I’m here to help shed some light on the subject.
Being a parent is like going on your first solo flight — repeatedly — as every day brings new emotions similar to those, I’m told, as flying solo. I embrace that notion, somehow; the somehow comes from the obvious realization that children do not come with instruction manuals. Still, let me try to demystify the idea of parenting.
Ideally, a child enters your world after a nine-month pregnancy, and it is then that you become a parent.
The average instruction period for flying lessons is ten-weeks. Ideally, at the end of those lessons, you’re ready to take your first solo flight.
For soloists the anticipation of that day is similar in its uniformity but different in its meaning as undoubtedly learning to fly is an exciting experience unduplicatable. Well, with all the ‘elements of planning’ that are required in giving attention to sequence, the application of motor skills and coordination, the crucial simulations, and let’s not forget, all the confidence building that is required, a pilot-to-be is prepared for his/her solo.
The same ‘elements of planning’ are required of parents-to-be. The difference being that unlike flying, the brain of a parent-to-be cannot simulate the experience until the moment the experiences start happening. And I say experiences because new ones arise daily.
I want to put you, my reader, in the driver seat. From here on, let me talk to YOU.
When you arrive at the airfield, you envisage everything you studied and worry that you might be forgetting something important. You want to check your notes but the instructor is right there commanding you to breathe instead. You manage a smile and a nod.
You climb inside the plane and you breathe in deeply. Now you’re on the pilot seat. You methodically complete the checklist of the plane’s controls. That was easy, you think.
You might feel the urge to look over at the seat beside you only to find it empty. You glance out the window on your left and see your instructor standing in the distance. You wave but she doesn’t see you. You breathe again. The only noise in the cockpit is the purr of the engine and a voice over the intercom. You are alone.
You touch your headphones, waiting for a signal from the control tower. All clear for takeoff, you may proceed, says the voice in your ears. At that moment, your breathing steadies, your brows furrow in concentration, and your feelings of anxiety leave you.
You start the engine and release the brake. Next you open the throttle a little, you feed more gasoline to the engine. The propeller whirls faster. The plane starts moving forward. You taxi onto the runway, facing into the direction of the wind. You wait. A voice from the control tower comes through your headphones again. Permission to take off, it says.
You open the throttle wide. The plane accelerates down the runway. On your right sits a stick — a control. When pulled back it lifts the nose of the plane; when pulled forward it drops the nose of the plane. You also know that to increase speed, you need to push the stick forward. Your right-hand rests on the stick.
The plane is now traveling fast. You can feel it trying to leave the ground. “This is it,” you say to yourself. Ever so gently you pull back on the stick. You see the nose lift while the ground suddenly drops away beneath you.
You are flying!
In the ten weeks of instructions, you have been told many things. One that you need to recall for this solo is: go no faster than eighty-five miles an hour. You know the plane has a maximum speed of twice that speed, yet you stay within the eighty-five miles.
You are constantly watching your airspeed indicator. You see the small clock face slowly creep up: 20, 30, 50. You know that if it drops below fifty-five miles an hour, the plane will stall. The airspeed reaches 60 knots, you ease back on the throttle. You cannot see the runway anymore, only sky.
You are flying!
You and the plane climb to five hundred feet. You’re on top of the world; or at least high enough to make your first turn.
I repeat: It is time to make the first turn… A turn? Yeah, you knew that was coming. You’ve simulated turning, remember? Now get turning. A turn!
You wipe the sweat from your hand on your trousers and immediately return it to the stick.
You push it gently to the left. The wing on the left side drops, the plane makes a turn, or bank as you have learned to call it. Everything is going well, but there are so many things to think about that you hardly notice the view. You breathe in slowly.
After making three more left banks, you’re on your final approach. The voice from the control tower gives you the all clear for landing. Landing! Crap, you think, now you have to land this thing! You glance over at the the seat next to you, again, you find it empty. Your brows furrow. You reduce the amount that the throttle is open. You can feel the plane begin dropping. Not too fast. Not too steep an angle, you remind yourself. Come in too high and you’ll overshoot the runway; come in too low and you’ll fall short.
Your brows are still furrowed but your breathing is stable.
You brace yourself.
The runway comes rushing up toward you.
When the plane is inches from the ground, you close the throttle restricting power from the engine. You pull back on the stick to raise the nose. The engine power dies. The wings no longer support the plane; the plane drops.
You make a perfect landing! YOU make a perfect landing!
Nice landing, you hear over the radio. You grin.
A feeling of exultation cascades over you as you ease down the runway.
You come to a complete stop.
Parenting is like that!
Only, you never stop the engine.
Enjoy your flight and don’t forget to take in the view!
This article was first published in Medium under the title of ‘Motherhood is like Flying Solo’. If you enjoyed this post kindly leave me a brief comment and/or share with others who you think might enjoy it as well. Thank you ever so kindly. Blessings, Selma.