41 thoughts on “When My Mom Was An Astronaut

  1. My mother’s adopted. I’m not, but my dad left us before I was born, so part of me relates to the “maybe we’ll bump into each other in the supermarket! And we’ll know each other instantly and hug passionately and he’ll be so thankful to have found me at last!” feelings. I’ve sent the article to my mum. It’s… It’s really beautifully written. Thanks, so much, for sharing it.

    1. She said:

      “Oh what a brilliant article so much of it resonates!

      I didn’t imagine an astronaut mummy but definitely a rich and bountiful one!
      I remember looking up at the stars, especially on my birthdays, and wondering if she was thinking of me, if she remembered me. Later, I was fortunate enough to be able to ask and she said yes, always.

      I’m glad you are my daughter in all the universes xx”


  2. Oh! The bent pinkies thing! If they bend inward, towards the other fingers, it’s called fifth finger clinodactyly. It’s technically classified as a congential abnormality but it’s so common that most epidemiologists consider it a normal human variation. It can be inherited, random variation, or associated with a dysmorphic syndrome. It results from a wedge-shaped second phalange that’s shorter on the inner side than the outer.

    The article was really lovely, too, I just jumped all over the pinkie thing because it’s a thing I know about from work, and a thing I have. Curvy pinkie high five?

      1. I thought my pinkie bent inward too but then I actually googled what orbitalflyby was talking about and I realized I don’t have it 😦 Now I has a sad.

        And that was an amazing article!

    1. My boyfriend has bent pinkies! Now the next time he mentions it I’m going to tell him it’s clinodactyly so he can be all impressed with me.

  3. I really enjoyed this. It doesn’t hurt that my name is Tamara L-e-i-g-h and I was born in 1974, so we sort of almost had the same name, only the parts got mixed up.

  4. That was beautifully written, and had surprising parallels to my own life. Although my experiences were all quite different. I’m my father’s youngest child, but I always grew up knowing his first child had been given up for adoption. If she ever turned up, he wanted us to know, so it wouldn’t be a surprise and she would be welcomed. We actually do have contact with her now, but it wasn’t until long after I was grown when New York created a registry for regaining contact. So, I had the other half of the adoption story, knowing I had a sister out there somewhere, but with no idea of who she might be or what she was doing. Sometimes wondering if a random stranger was really my sister. And the Challenger explosion still hurts… I was around seven or eight years old at the time, and my teacher was a runner-up. Every student in my class wrote a letter to NASA, as part of the selection process, telling NASA why they should select our teacher. I often think about that. I think about the fact that there are a bunch of people out there who wrote those letters and then their teacher was selected. And now I’m tearing up.

  5. That was a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing something so personal and bittersweet. ❀

    1. Overactive imagination + ACTUAL LIFELONG MYSTERY + reading tons of fairy tales = lots of staring at the backs of wardrobes.

      1. I’m not even adopted (and very very very strongly resemble my parents physically and not just because we’re all redheads, so there was no way that I was ever really convinced they secretly weren’t my parents) and I was always looking for the magic wardrobe or tunnel or forest clearing that would take me to adventure and a way cooler family that had magic and and and… you know?

        I think that part, the searching for the secret switch that will tell you you’re special, you’re different (and in a way that’s AWESOME) is common to most imaginative kids, but being adopted probably turns it up to eleven, because you really *do* have another family out there, somewhere.

      2. I read a lot, plus the actual mystery (not lifelong), but my imagination is rather stymied by a genetic bent towards practicality. Now, I think if I’d had my way at age 12 or so, my genetic family would have been dragonriders.

  6. That was an amazing piece of writing. Thank you. Thank you for writing it, and for sharing it.
    That was also a really effective use of foreshadowing– reading it knowing, of course, how that flight ended, and feeling a helpless desire to protect the child-Jennifer from that unchangeable outcome… Wow.

  7. Beautiful. I kept thinking “this is like me.” I relate so much to some of this, including Anna Devane. Thanks for sharing.

  8. That was awsome! As an adoptive Mom [a miracle since the Christians have that market sewed UP and I’m Buddhist], I love to red of the experiences and thoughts and feelings of adopted Kids.

    For what it’s worth, I had a physically and emotionally abusive father and used to wIsh! I was adopted!

    1. Thank you. I worry that my adopted family would be hurt by reading something like that, but a) it’s all true b) it doesn’t mean I didn’t love them, just that I was hungry to solve the mystery & meet people who looked like me, since I am such an outlier looks-wise.

  9. Just amazing. That part about the 74th second… wow. I felt like I was there and dropped my imaginary cupcake.

  10. Thank you for that personal glimpse into your mind and heart. That moment! Lovely piece.
    I knew who my biological mother is, but I still hoped it couldn’t be someone as cruel as her, so I appreciate the idea of fixating on someone else as the one who created you. Mine was Olivia Newton-John.
    One of my high school’s English teachers was one of 5 candidates for McAuliffe’s seat on that shuttle. Before the launch he was having some mixed emotions (likely jealousy and annoyance at himself for being a sore loser); after the launch, even more emotions, as you might imagine.

  11. I saw this on the Toast yesterday but didn’t realize it was yours. This was so, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

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