Launching Rockets

Launching rockets is an idea stolen from Rob Bell about raising children. I love the idea so I’m taking it. Actually, I love all of Rob Bell’s ideas so you can pretty much guarantee I will continue to steal steal steal from the master. #sorrynotsorry

Launching rockets is a metaphor about what it means to be a parent. It’s the idea that we are taking part of a great journey. We are a team working towards something big and beautiful that is about to happen. There is preparation and anticipation and anxiety. We are building and designing something that will eventually take off, has a mind of its own, has a specific path and purpose, and something that is going somewhere.

What it looks like today to launch rockets:

We are walking down the road in the middle of a hot September afternoon. Husband, baby rockets, and my mom visiting from out of town. Its 90 degrees of hell outside. I’m agitated and annoyed because why can’t we walk at a decent hour or walk inside a mall?  We eventually find a mysterious opening that leads to water and we follow a long and winding path to the bay. We see the breaking waves and I know exactly what I need to do. I know exactly how to love my rocket today. I take off all of Josh’s clothes and untie my sneakers. We both run into the water, diving and splashing and back floating the heat away. My mother looks at us like we are insane people. And we are. Launching rockets is not for the sane minded. Or the closed minded. Or people using their minds much at all. It is a memory making, soul making, love making, kind of game. Face down in the sand. Wet clothes hanging loosely off my body. A nakey tiny baby-peeper out and about at our new found sanctuary.

Josh won’t remember this day because he is two and because most of his days are naked and whimsical and hysterical. But I won’t forget this day. It was the day where I acted like the mother I want to be. I took my rocket launching task very seriously. I engineered some joy and peace into my tiny machine. I let the water wash over each part again and again. I held my rocket close and inspected each piece carefully.  I brushed off the sand and kissed him clean. I tickled and laughed each bolt into its proper place.

For twenty minutes we were alive, my rocket and I. Heaven whispered into each wave, you’re doing a great work and I sobbed because heaven was right. This is what I am building. A great work. We haven’t reached the “big launch” in Josh’s life, not even close. But these tiny launches, these spontaneous jumps and dives in and out of the water are our practice blast-offs. Trusting each other. Trusting the waves and the sun and the rocket-building process to do its job. It’s slow and tedious some days. Wheels on the Bus. E-I-E-I-O. Bath time. Lunch time. Snack time. Dinner time. Elmo time. Slowwwww.

But other days I get a glimpse of the momentous and ginormous rocket we are building. Red and shiny and sparkly. The progress is just incredible. It’s happening so fast. I’m in shock and paralyzed by the speed of the process. Didn’t we just start… yesterday?

But time marches on and we are doing a great work here. We are creating something that is going somewhere. Something that matters. Something important.  Rocket and I are both so proud and so exhausted- soaking wet, far from home, sun burned, and whimsically alive. Keeping our eyes out for fish and sharks and dolphins and seaweed. Expecting a miracle, forgetting we are one.

Joshua Makarios, being a part of your rocket launching team is the greatest honor of my life. I can’t wait to watch you soar through outer space, but let’s enjoy just a few more years of precious earth together.



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