We sat cross-legged on the bedroom floor, the four of us, and counted ceiling stars. They were plastic, glow-in-the-dark, the kind you buy in packs at the drug store. By then, entire constellations had gone the way of single LEGO blocks: down the vents or in between couch cushions, or into the slobbery mouths of our dogs. But a handful remained, stuck onto the plaster with putty wads.
We named them, listened to the sounds as they echoed through make-believe space.
We were astronomers, with paper towel rolls for telescopes.
My oldest, the sensitive soul, wondered aloud. What's it like up there, Mom? In space?
Before long the bottom fell out. It disintegrated into He poked my eye and She's pulling my hairbut for one brief moment we were under a blanket of sky, asking Big Questions, imagining Big Things.
I held on to it like a butterfly in the cup of my hands, felt its fluttery wings before letting it go.
As a child I'd laid out in that farmer's field and watched the sky dance with meteors. I was twelve. Thirteen? There were three of us. There was silence punctuated by stars.
I remember thinking then that the universe was so big, that my life was so small. I feel that way still, in my brick house in the middle of the block. As my car sits in the pick up line for the elementary school. In the produce aisle weighing fruit.
I get that same feeling standing at the kitchen counter, chopping carrots into coins. Applying band-aids to boo boos. Teaching them to pray.
There is a big world spinning around me. People rush to catch connecting flights, hail taxi cabs on busy street corners somewhere. Meetings are held behind closed doors, millions of dollars are exchanged with the shaking of hands.
But this mother stuff is Big Work, too, and not for the faint of heart.
I may not always see it as important. I may not broker transactions or negotiate terms. I don't remove cancers from the body or sit in boardrooms at lunch. For my children, though, this home is the world, a constellation all its own.
I was granted my three wishes that day in the field, when the stars fell around me and burned themselves out.
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned blogger. She's pursuing a career as a freelance writer, and her work has been published in Sleet Magazine and featured on many popular websites. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, focuses on the small reflections - MOMents - in each day that make life beautiful. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!