I have had a taste of freedom. It’s not Braveheart’s ride in on a stallion, face painted in warring blue, ready to fight for my country “FREEDOM!” It’s more like little ol’ me, weaving in and out of parking spaces in my mom-mobile, remnants of doughnut on the corner of my mouth, ready to politely request my grande non-fat vanilla latte to go.
This taste of freedom comes from our evening sports schedule. It’s only happened a handful of times, but my husband will opt (He actually chooses this!) to stay home with all three boys and I get to take the girls to their volleyball and soccer practices.
…and just sit.
…drink some coffee.
…have adult conversation. (Meaning conversation with grown-ups, not an inappropriate exchange…ahem.)
It’s really lovely. But freedom comes with a price, doesn’t it, Braveheart?
As I walked in the door to my abode last night following one of these serene evenings of freedom, I was bombarded by three boys with chocolate on their faces (one without pants), clothing strewn all over the floor, the husband sitting in his chair with laptop and the television volume set to “stun,” abandoned television on upstairs announcing Spongebob’s Best Day Ever, and nearby a newly purchased box of fruit roll-ups completely emptied with foil and wax wrappers scattered haphazardly all over my bedroom floor.
Re-entry is brutal.
My limited knowledge of space travel comes mostly from the adult discourse I overheard and glimpses of nightly news I was forced to sit through while awaiting The Cosby Show as I was growing up in the 80′s. One thing I have gleaned from this less-than-extensive education is that re-entry is one of the most dangerous and difficult parts of space flight. I can relate.
According to the article on this site, http://h2g2.com/approved_entry/A6381038, the fundamental problem in re-entry is that the spacecraft has to be going at a precise amount of speed ~ fast enough to enter the upper atmosphere and brace for atmospheric resistance, yet quickly drop enough speed to be able to encounter gravity and make a safe landing. There are four different methods of doing this.
The first is “powered deceleration.” While my re-entry is a little different from the space shuttle (just a bit) in that I am going from a slower rate of speed to a much faster one, it still needs to be planned and precise. The shuttle will fire a rocket backwards to send energy in the opposite direction and slow itself down. I have found that a perfectly timed Starbucks can have the same effect for me. I need that caffeine to hit the bloodstream at the categorical moment of re-entry to provide energy for the blast about to transpire, yet dissipate from my system so as to allow sleep to occur before midnight. It’s very delicate.
The second is an “energy exchange.” For the space shuttle, this means converting kinetic energy into potential energy and storing it in some device. For me, I need to somehow gather the potential energy gained from my peaceful evening and channel it into the kinetic energy necessary to enter a house in which 4 boys have been busily demolishing, destroying, thrashing, walloping, whooping, hollering, and so on and so forth. I find that listening to my tween daughters discuss boy/girl drama in addition to hearing Bruno Mars’ songs played incessantly on the radio prepares me in such a way that I’m ready to leap from the car and tackle whatever damage the boys may have inflicted.
The third is “mass shedding.” Not used since the Apollo program, mass shedding is in layman’s terms dumping what is not necessary in order to provide a lighter, safer landing. My mass shedding means the laptop is sleeved, the bookmark has been placed, and the coffee cup is empty. In other words, my electronic devices have been turned off, and my seat back and tray table have been placed in their upright and locked positions. Upon entering the house, my arms are empty and available for leaping children, falling beverages, and whatever wiping, collecting, and/or scrubbing will be necessary.
The fourth and final method is “energy dissipation.” This is very similar to the energy exchange except that kinetic energy is progressively converted to another form such as heat as the descent occurs. For me this step is called “reaching the speed limit.” I drive very slowly on the beginning of our way home. You know that annoying person that waits until the road is absolutely empty to turn out of the sports center parking lot? Me. You know that creep going five miles below the speed limit at 8:30 pm? Me. Back off; I’m preparing for re-entry. As I get closer to home, my speed picks up until by the time I’m on my street I am cruising at the posted speed limit.
I remember watching one of the space shuttle landings. When the vehicle actually hit the ground, there was a flurry of activity. Sirens flashing, people in uniform running about, ambulances and fire trucks and police vehicles…but no astronauts. They are not usually seen until much, much later at a press conference ~ pretty anticlimactic for me as a spectator. But upon my re-entry I become all those personnel. Pj’s are thrown on, “wet” clothes from the bathroom floor tossed in the laundry, beloved lost toys found, blankies rescued from underneath the bed, toothbrushes loaded, homework signed, drinks poured, trash collected, televisions turned off or reset to a volume less than “my-ears-are-bleeding,” kisses given, books read, backs scratched, feet rubbed, babies carried up and tucked in…
And then I sit down to my press conference to discuss the evening with my husband. And I wonder…is the moment of freedom worth it? Though certainly a gift, freedom is not for the weak. It is not something given easily or taken lightly. But it does help to right my center a bit. Despite the fact that re-entry is arduous and trying, the me that remains after the storm is a little more Becky and a little less stressed-out-mama ~ a little more woman and a little less housemaid. So I practice Eucharisteo – giving thanks for all things – and say that I am thankful for the freedom and the re-entry. I am thankful for the relaxation and the rumpus.
I am thankful for the peace…and the mess.