Vantage Point

I peer down through the darkness to the coastline sketched below. Tiny towns and broccoli-sized trees remind me of a scene from a puzzle, huddled together along the shoreline of one of the Great Lakes. It's July 2nd and we're flying east towards Massachusetts to celebrate the Fourth of July with family in Cape Cod. The sun is just starting to set from our vantage point above the clouds but the families below us, already in shadow, are shifting into night mode, chasing fireflies and lighting bonfires.

I love the aerial view from an airplane. To remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and take a quick pause above the clouds, gives you perspective. Something magical happens when you take that quick trip down the runway and lift off into the sky. Homes look extra cozy from a distance, even in the summertime. I imagine camp fires and ice cream gatherings and neighborhood walks, and can't help but think of my favorite summertime memories from my childhood.

I've always been into the big hallmark celebration of summer, the Fourth of July. When my sisters and I were little we'd gather on a friend's front step and make American flag shoe jewelry out of safety pins and beads, we'd pick out our best patriotic colors and then ride our bikes to a nearby parade. The rest of the day usually involved more high-energy outdoor activities, like tennis in the street or cartwheels in the yard, and always ended with a flag cake and fireworks - choreographed to live orchestral music, because that's how you celebrate in New Jersey.

Our celebrations look a little different these days. With a toddler at home, nap time takes a priority over parade schedules and we definitely don't take in the local firework display. But that's okay. Because when little ones enter your life, everything shifts. We let go of some things that used to be important and we hold tighter to those things we now realize truly are. And this change in perspective can be refreshing, promising all sorts of new adventures and surprises.

I was a bit of a reluctant parent in that I wanted to understand it before I experienced it. The thought of being pregnant terrified me because of the big unknown ahead. But at the same time I was craving a change in perspective, new routines, new purpose. I like to think the entrance into parenthood is a little like jumping on a plane. You might know where your destination lies and have a general sense of what your future holds, but it's impossible to know exactly what it looks or feels like until you begin the journey. And thankfully you can't, because otherwise the view wouldn't be a surprise.

The light has faded when I look out the window again, but I can still make out the etched shoreline as we approach the eastern edge of the lake. Our toddler rarely sleeps on a plane anymore and is normally restless, determined to run down the aisle. But tonight he settles in and seems to be just as content to look out the window as I am. And just as surprised when the little coastal towns take turns tossing up fireworks, like bouquets into the night sky.

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