For Mother’s Day…A Tribute to The Adventure of a Lifetime
An article on Slate recently described the confusion that happens when you are adapting to a particular life-changing event:
“Mornings don’t have the same meanings.”
“There’s the issue of sleep deprivation.”
“You completely adapt to your environment.”
The above is not, in fact, about new motherhood; it’s about living in outer space.
It struck us how much being shot into outer space has in common with the completely alien experience of bringing a new baby home…and then raising said child while juggling sleeplessness, round-the-clock responsibilities, and unexpected communications from mission control.
Motherhood/outer space…potato/potahto. How similar are they, you ask? Here are some actual quotes from the astronauts:
“The beginning feels like a gorilla that’s squishing you and then throws you off a cliff.”
Or as it’s known on earth…natural childbirth.
“Right after we launched, I realized that all those years of training were completely pointless.”
Also known as the terrible twos.
“Your muscles have to learn to move in ways they’re not used to.”
Muscles, what muscles?
“Speeding by at nearly five miles per second, you learn not to associate the intervening light or darkness with ‘day’ or ‘night’
One word: colic.
Your brain has to acclimate to having your body flipped around in different orientations—upside-down, sideways, horizontal.
Ever try to share a bed with a toddler?
What sounds so surreal and science fiction-like becomes very routine and normal.”
Except the part about having to make lunch…forever.
“Hot shower” is a sponge bath.
Wait…they have hot showers in space?!.
“‘Breakfast’ is sustenance like oatmeal or scrambled eggs in a foil pouch, dehydrated until you add hot water, which you then suck through a straw.”
Or dinner is the last drop of pureed sweet potatoes scraped from the bottom of the jar.
“Going to the bathroom is a little bit tricky.”
And you’re never, ever alone.
“On average, astronauts on the ISS [International Space Station] only get about six hours of sleep.”
“You miss the physical contact of resting on a bed while sleeping.”
As opposed to the physical contact of holding a small human while sleeping in an upright, standing position.
“NASA is working on a couple studies on how to improve sleeping conditions for space dwellers.”
Any breakthroughs for crib dwellers?
“You just rely on caffeine.”
See “suck through a straw,” above.
Um…that’s not at all our experience.
Finally, there’s this: “The views are so beautiful and so amazing, they looked like they weren’t even real. I think all of us spent a lot of time trying to capture that in photographs.”
In other words: “Not so unlike life on earth after all.”
Whatever planet you’re celebrating on — Happy Mother’s Day!
As a writer and blogger, I’ve spent my career chronicling the travels, challenges, and delightful messiness of fitting together work, life, and parenting. I’m a mother of two grown daughters who currently lives in Massachusetts with my husband, two cats, and endless homeowner responsibilities.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Bright Horizons’ Solutions at Work blog and is republished with permission.