Pilot Jake and the Adventures of Motherhood

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My son wants to be a pilot. More specifically, he wants to crash paper airplanes and steer parked jets. I told him he’d make a great fighter pilot, right before I told my husband I’d cry if he joined the military. My baby will be 3 in August.

Raising a 2-year old is utterly exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. But, it is a living reminder of what’s lost with the wisdom adults supposedly gain. Each morning, my son wakes up ready to tackle the world. Better yet—he truly believes he can and will conquer the world. By the time I change his morning diaper, he’s babbling away about all of the exciting people he’s going to see, toys he’s going to master, and a lifetime of activities he’s going to do—all by noon. By nightfall, he’s still talking and giggling and sharing stories about his endless adventures. Sure, in-between there he has his dreams and hopes dashed… he’s been cut-off on his third bowl of cereal or told he has to wear pants at daycare. He’s not allowed to jump off furniture (most of the time), and he can’t go outside without an adult. One time, I even accidentally broke his banana in half when pealing it. We barely got through that one. But, as quickly as his world shatters, life resumes. He’s resilient.

This month we took Jake to the Duluth Air and Aviation Show. I was nervous. Large crowds, hot weather and a 2-year old don’t always mix. I was stressed out before we even parked. But, the weather was on our side. A rainy day dispersed crowds and a well-executed event (and pre-planning by me) gave my son plenty to see, touch and try. But, what I loved most about the event was the perspective it gave me. My son was equally as excited to ride the school bus from the parking lot and he was to get up close to a Blue Angel. The squeals of joy from driving his plastic airplane in the sky were equally as high pitched as the squeals when steering a cirrus jet. He devoured his Cheetos with the same enthusiasm as his apple slices. And as we left, he didn’t beg for a bigger adventure but rather asked if we were going home so he could see Joey our dog.

This was a special day for us. I try really hard to take Jake on experiential adventures and to expose him to life beyond Iron River. He doesn’t know or understand this. But, what he does know is that each morning he’s going to get up and make the most out of his day. He’s going to play hard and nap harder. He’s going to giggle and laugh and maybe cry but move on. He’s going to experience something for the first time, even if it is the dentist. And, whatever that something is, he’s going to make the most of it.

All of this has made me wonder—when do we lose this sense of excitement. When do we decide that getting up in the morning is something to dread versus embrace. That we need some adventure or experience to be excited about to make life worth living. Sure, we talk about life being this great gift and how we need to give 150 percent each and every day and make the most out of life. But, if we truly tackled life like that, there wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar self-help industry reminding us about the benefits of being this way.

There are many benefits to being an adult. I get to go outside when I want to and can jump off the couch is I choose. But, by gaining access to these adult choices, I’ve lost something. I’ve lost that sense of wonder and excitement that comes with blowing bubbles for the first time or spending an afternoon skipping rocks. I miss the world of pretend where my 10-speed huffy bike is a race horse. Or, believe that I could run outside and do some cartwheels like Mary Lou Retton without a single day of training. And when I quickly learned I couldn’t, it was ok (other than a sprained ankle).

Jake’s a living reminder of what I’ve lost as I’ve aged. But, he’s also an inspiration to me to not do more and be more, but to do less. To rediscover the sense of wonder that comes with running around all day long but actually getting nothing done, other than living life. And frankly, shouldn’t that be enough?

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