“Mom – the sky is really pretty. Come and see.”
It is just after six a.m. My teenager, hair mussed and voice slow with sleep, stands at the front door, peering through the sidelights into the still-dark of early morning. He stopped at the door on his way to the kitchen to start the day. He’s still a morning person, just like me.
I get up from the kitchen table and my coffee to walk over and look out the window. Swirls of pink and orange fade upwards into darker shades of purple and blue-gray, creating a narrow plane of light just under a wide band of dark. The clouds make horizontal streaks through the vibrant color. Within an hour the sun will be fully present and the darkest parts of the sky will be gone. It really is beautiful. I say so, and he smiles. “Yeah.”
When the kids were small I used the “look how pretty the sky is” line to distract them from something: a piece of candy they found in my purse, an argument, a toy from the fast-food place. They would look up at the sky and find an image that only they could see in the clouds. The action would break up whatever undesirable outcome we were falling toward, substituted for the simple pleasure of looking up into the sky to observe its offerings.
I wonder when he learned to look up on his own. Likely he always did and I’d like to take credit for introducing him to the obvious. Likely his human nature dating back to prehistoric times led him to regard the heavens as noteworthy. But he just started to include me in his witness.
The enjoyment of guiding my children to grow into the people they’ll become has supplemented my basic mothering instinct to nourish and protect. Stay present, says every parenting article. The years go by so quickly, says every elderly person. I know. I know now more than ever; the intentionality to be present has become normal behavior. Looking up at the sky still helps to remove us from the chaos of the world. A simple moment is just that, and I am glad that it is something that comes naturally to him.
I love that you still tell me to look at the sky, I say later, incorrectly, as if it was something that always marked his personality. He is sharp and catches my mistake. “I don’t remember doing that. Did I?” he asks. Well, no, I guess you didn’t.
But you learned to look up, and that makes me happy, because it’s something that I do, too, I explained a little lamely, realizing how immature and self-centered I still am.
“Yeah,” he agreed, distractedly. His eyes were on his phone, his mind already elsewhere.
That’s okay. For a moment, I saw the person he is today, and I have hope for the person he’ll be tomorrow. I hope he’ll be someone who looks up and takes the time to regard the sky, and think that it’s pretty.
And I hope that he’ll want to share that with others. Especially me.