Okay, So Maybe It Is Rocket Science

Last week I posted that parenting is not rocket science. After reflecting on the recent launch of Atlantis and making a trip to the science museum, I realize that maybe it is, in fact, the very same.

When the shuttle blasts off, there is a certain sequence of events that must take place in order for the launch to be successful. There are protocols to follow in order to ensure the safety of the crew and the integrity of the craft. The machine itself has so many parts, both moving and stationary, and the malfunction of even one can spell disaster. Tragically, I have seen this to be true twice in my life.

As a mother, I must begin my day much like a shuttle launch. If I don’t get the sequence right, we could be heading for trouble. Just one change in the morning routine could mean a major meltdown later in the day. Of course, I serve as both flight commander and mission control, and my crew of two is counting on me to avert disaster.

Once we have successfully launched our day, there is a mission to complete. The mission varies, but the basic principles apply. Get from point A to point B. The same is true in space travel; however, a recent trip to the science museum gave me a new perspective on this. I had never realized that traveling from point A to point B was complicated by the fact that both points A and B are in motion as is the vehicle attempting to go from one to the other. So, simply setting a course does not work in space like it does on Earth. Constant adjustments must be made by both the team on and off the ground. Without careful coordination, the mission would fail, and the astronauts would be lost in space.

Oh how I envy the astronauts. They have a specialized team to get them where they need to be. I must go it alone with my two little orbiters.

After a successful mission, there is the re-entry. It poses its own challenges. I learned this the hard way on our trip to the science museum.

Consider this scenario: We are preparing to leave because the baby is fussing. She has been strapped in her seat most of our mission. She has skipped part of our usual sequence, namely her morning nap, and is now desperate for her pacifier, which has been jettisoned somewhere over the vast expanse of the museum. As we exit the building, we go through the gift shop. I stop to ask a question about an upcoming event and lose sight of my older daughter. I locate her near a constellation of shiny rocks. I dismiss this as I am now docking at the counter with baby in tow. I get the information I need and call to the older one that it is time to leave. We proceed home, and, unbeknownst to me, we have picked up some excess cargo. The mission has been compromised.

The next day, of course, we set out on a new mission, one that was slightly more successful because of lessons learned. Each mission is like that. And maybe parenting is not exactly rocket science, but it comes close.

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