It’s been years since I last flew. Flying has always been exciting and rare for me. I’ve never been able to afford to fly enough to get jaded about it. Flying means something special is going on. So it’s rare enough that I can still get nervous about it. My stomach was full of butterflies as I started writing this.

As it turns out, flying with my daughter for the first time *really* makes me nervous. It comes down to the nonstop conversation that I’ve always had in my head with God. “Anything can happen to me, Lord, just watch over her.” 

But it’s hard to pray that when you slide open the window shade and you can’t see a thing because the engine is physically blocking the view. There’s so many thousands of pounds of pressure and roaring hell on the other side of that window and thin steel skin. It gets even harder when the engines sound like a wobbling mess, the kick-start engine doesn’t work, and the cabin fills with the distinct smell of burning electrical even before you get to take off.

Sheesh. Stay calm, Mom. 😀 If the attendants look nervous, then you have permission to get scared. They look fine…and they know this plane best. So I remind myself to roll with it, Mom…

Then the plane ride back happens.

Okay, I’m not an intrepid flyer, but I’ve been through some bumpy flights. I’ve seen stuff (and people) go flying inside the cabin. I’ve even been through a (controlled) emergency landing. I know what it feels like to drop a few thousand feet really fast. I handled all of that just fine. 

But I’ve never seen the nose of a plane drop so precipitously that I could see over the seat backs in front of me, all the way to the cockpit door…from my seat in row 35. I’ve never felt a pilot scramble for control, engines screaming to either side of me. And I have never been so frightened of an airplane’s sudden motion that an involuntary “JESUS!” squeaked out of my mouth.

I looked over at my daughter. Every maternal instinct I have was howling. I was fighting to keep my composure.

She was grinning ear to ear. 

“This is *great*!” she laughed. “It’s like a roller coaster!”

Lessons for life, Mom. When the ride gets wild, put up your hands and pretend it’s a roller coaster. And laugh.