From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

Learning to Fly

How blessings brighten as they take their flight

Edward Young

I had finally finished another term of graduate school, and my job at the school district had just ended. My stressful journey to becoming a teacher had been taking a toll on me. For the first time in a year, I had free time on my hands. I had a whole month to relax, catch up on home projects, and hang out with my kids.

I found myself falling into a strange routine of lounging on the couch, channel surfing. My family had been tucked away for the night, but I lay awake flipping through the endless sea of infomercials, home shopping channels, and taking a tour of the late night comedy circuit. Sadly, nothing made me laugh or smile. I would love to blame my problem on insomnia, but that wasn’t the case. My dog looked at me with pity. My body gave me all the signals that it was ready for bed, yet I ignored them. Why did I force myself to stay up so late? Why did I prolong the day?

I think that I was putting off the inevitable: I didn’t want tomorrow to come too soon. It would mean I had lost another day of my vacation and moved one step closer to going back to work and school. It also meant that I could avoid the morning wake-up call from my children and not face another day’s to-do list. I had lost that spark that keeps us all eager to embrace each day that life gives us. I gave myself a pep talk, but I couldn’t figure out how to get out of this funk. Eventually, I gave up, turned in for the night, and fell asleep.

Bright and blurry the next morning, my five-year-old son nudged me to wake up. Still half asleep, I looked into his adorable blue eyes and sweet face. Then I rolled over and told him grumpily that it was too early and to go back to bed. He obediently went back to his room, but returned like clockwork about twenty minutes later. We continued this song and dance for another hour. Each time I became a little more irritable and desperate for sleep. And each time he became a little more persistent to get my attention. I heard my toddler daughter coming to life in the next room and realized that my morning needed to start. Deep down I knew that my fatigue was my own fault for staying up too late the night before, yet I couldn’t break the pattern. Finally, I dragged myself out of bed and went about my day.

Most mornings I walked around in a fog while making my kids’ breakfast. Their chatter was a bit like listening to the birds chirping outside. A morning wasn’t the same without it. However, one morning, my son asked me to read him a particular story in bed. I had written it for a graduate class. Because my son would be starting kindergarten in the fall, I had written about his first day of school. The book held a lot of sentimental value already, so I didn’t mind forcing myself to open my eyes. To my amazement, my son did something that gave me the true wake-up call I needed. As we lay together in bed, I read him the final lines of the story:

   On your first day of school
   You squeeze my hand tight
And give me a great big hug
Telling me you’ll be all right
That sparkle in your eyes
Says you are ready to say good-bye
And I let go of your wings
And trust that you know how to fly

Now, my son’s five-year-old logic kicked in and he jumped onto the bed. Unable to comprehend the metaphor in the story, he simply asked me watch him try to fly. He proceeded to jump up and down on my bed while flapping his wings. His hopeful eyes and eager smile permeated every part of my soul. My heavy heart now felt light as a feather. I got up on the bed, and together we bounced up and down in a futile effort to take off. We landed in a heap and giggled. In that moment, I let all the stress of the last year melt away as my son reminded me that I had forgotten how to laugh.

With renewed energy, I grabbed my son’s hand, and we went to wake up his sister. As usual, we found that she had turned her bed into a playground. She had surrounded herself with a sea of dolls, stuffed animals, and any other toy she could find. I sat down with my two babes in toyland and gave them a great big hug.

They finally let me go from their hugs. They had just taught me how to fly.

Britt Prince

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