Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Blanket of Stars

Ron and I left for the Davis Mountains - he went to go hiking, and I went to work on my book sans interruptions.  As we were winding through the desert, south to Fort Davis, it occurred to me. This might be our first trip to take without the kids.  At first, that didn't really bother me too much. Everyone was busy with their lives, and it would be a nice break away.

So Ron hiked and I wrote and all was well. We made plans to go to the McDonald Observatory for a Star Party.  As the Prius climbed the side of the mountain, I was feeling as if something was out of place.  We got to the Visitor's Center, upgraded our tickets, because they were opening the 36 inch telescope that night. We'd be able to see much more. We boarded the shuttle with 13 other people and off we went. 

The stars were beautiful. You don't really know what "a blanket of stars" really is until you're out in the desert away from all light.   Gorgeous.

And not really something you can take a photo of - it's one of those "you had to be there" moments. 

And it hit me. My kids were not there.

They wouldn't see the color of Jupiter with 3 moons circling. Or Messier #1, or the Crab Nebula, or Uranus, or the center of Andromeda. They'd miss all the explanations of the speed of light and how looking into a telescope is like looking into the past. Those explosions of stars we could see that actually happened years ago. Some of which look the same as they did to astronomers of the 1700's and even Galileo. 

All this learning, and no kids to share it with.  And it dawned on me. Homeschooling my kids opened ME up to learning. After all my years in school, I really had the love of learning beat out of me. I didn't pick up a book to read for pleasure until I was in my 30's.  

Until kids. Then I found fun things for them to experience and learn and wove it all together in 20+ years of my life. I often considered myself the perfect tour guide - we'd move somewhere and I'd find all the cool things we could go explore. I loved sharing these opportunities with my children. 

I even asked Ron, "Do you think we did enough fun things with the kids?" He laughed and began listing out all the adventures:  volcanoes and mountaintops, whales and glaciers, Blue Ridge Parkway and Continental Divide...the list goes on and on.

And now that they're on their own paths, who do I share these opportunities with? I never considered going on explorations on my own or for my own enjoyment. I had never done that before kids.  But I'm still interested in all these little corners of the world.  Having kids and unschooling them, ignited this little sense of adventure for myself. 

So, now, on the top of what's probably one of the highest peaks in Texas, I let the information and the beauty waft over me. I think about how foreign this feels - no kids beside me asking questions or looking for bathrooms or wondering about snacks.  Ron wanders around the telescope, exploring the area, holding the ladder for me so I can look through the eyepiece.  

I told someone that I hope my Motherhood Transition passes quickly.  It's not a comfortable feeling. And me, getting all teary, is even getting on MY nerves!  So I'm trying not to avoid thinking about this process. They say, "lean into the feeling."  OK. That's what I'll do.

The sky is so black up here. And the stars are so numerous they really are like a blanket. And the idea that they've been up there all along. Before me.  When I was kid, looking at them.  When I was a mom showing them to my kids.  And they're still there for me now.  There's something comforting about that.  Kind of like an old blanket.  

1 comment:

Valerie said...

Sue, this is how the sky looked when we went up to Canada to visit Donn and Jean Reed in the '90s. I grew up looking at a South Dakota sky, so I had a good view of the stars, but that Canadian sky, WOW. It was like a blanket of diamonds.