Lately I’ve been feeling like a bit of a crappy mom. My kids are both at the age where they want to play ALL the time, and Dexter asks about twenty times an hour, “Mommy, will you play with me?” Being on bed rest and in constant pain makes it hard to get down on his level or to engage for more than a few minutes at a time, and while I try to do what I can to make him happy, it usually entails me finding a way to distract him instead.
One of Dexter’s very favorite subjects these days is outer space. He loves to talk about the planets (he can name them all!) and he’s aware that the sun is a star and other stars can be suns, as well. He spouts off facts constantly, and his favorite things to watch are Cosmos and Star Trek. We try to encourage this. In fact, if you want to see some amazing cuteness, check out this small video of him schooling me on Pluto.
Anyway, if you ever spend any time with the kid, he will make it known that his very favorite thing in the world is The Moon. He has a special love for it that makes my heart soar. I’ve written in the past about my own special relationship with the moon as it pertains to my relationship with my father, and to have a child share that same bond with me is a privilege. So when I heard a couple weeks ago that there was to be an eclipse on October 8th, I knew it would be something special to share with my little man.
He’s been talking about it every day. How the moon will be big and bright and turn blood red. He made up a story about how the moon will come down to talk to him and show him his real face. He thinks the moon comes down every night while he’s sleeping and watches over him. I am happy to let him think this.
I figured the eclipse would happen in the late evening, and I’d let Dexter stay up an extra few hours so he could watch it with me. I didn’t realize that when the news said it was happening October 8th, they meant EARLY MORNING. After looking it up yesterday, I realized that in our location, the actual eclipse would begin around 2:30 AM, hit its blood red peak around 4:30 and end somewhere around 6:30. I knew that I’d have to get up early to make this happen.
So when I put him to bed last night, I promised him that I’d wake him up to look at the moon. He was so excited, he made me promise him again and again. I assured him I would do it, even though I knew how hard it would be since getting enough sleep is difficult and my pain is worst in the early hours. But I set my alarm and went to bed.
And I started to panic.
What if I missed the alarm? What if it was too cloudy to see the eclipse? What if the moon was too low on the horizon or was hidden behind a tree or another house? What would I do? I’d promised Dexter the chance to see the eclipse, and I was terrified we’d somehow miss it.
I spent all night, wide awake and worried. When my alarm finally went off, I was weary and wary. I went into the kids room, where Mark happened to be sleeping since Daniel had been extra fussy all night, and I gently prodded him to wake up. “Did you want to see the moon with us?” I asked. Mark nodded and quietly got up to go put some clothes on. I tried to wake up Dexter gently without waking Daniel, but they both ended up wide awake. Dexter was so excited. We made our way upstairs, and I got him in his boots and a hat, and Mark told me the moon was perfectly visible.
We headed outside, and we sat on our tiny side porch just watching as the already orange moon turned a nice shade of crimson. I’d brought my nice camera, but it didn’t seem able to capture the effect, so I had to settle for blurry iPhone photos.
As we sat together, Dexter smiled so big, holding onto my arm and asking questions about what the moon was doing. As tired as I was, and as long ago as my elementary school science classes were, I tried to explain how eclipses worked… I thought quickly about how a solar eclipses is when the moon blocks out the sun, so I told him the sun was going behind the moon. He was very satisfied with this answer and couldn’t wait to go and tell daddy, who had by this time gone back inside with Daniel to get him back to bed.
When we finally went inside, Dexter asked if he could come into my bed with me and cuddle because he was “so happy.” Of course I said yes. He curled up next to me with a big smile and started repeating facts about the planets and stars, and I held him tight and kissed his little cheeks as I expressed my amazement at all he was telling me. He finally drifted slowly off to sleep, and when daddy came back to bed, his eyes sprang open and he said, “Daddy! The sun went behind the moon and made it red!”
Daddy – the smarter parent for sure – quickly corrected this mistake by explaining that it was the earth who was blocking the sun that made the moon appear red. Dexter was confused for a moment. “That’s not what mommy said,” he said. I was a little embarrassed, but I assured him that daddy was correct. He seemed satisfied and was able to go back to sleep quickly.
To have experienced such a wonderful moment with my boy is high up on my list of motherhood highs. I feel so blessed to have such a great relationship with my little guy, and I will keep this memory with me for many years to come.
I am so glad I was able to keep my promise to him, even if it did cost me a night of sleep.