One key to life is in the seatback pocket in front of you . . . .

Courtney - Ventura, California
Entered on March 22, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

This I believe: “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting those seated near you.”

Over the holidays, I heard a family story that revealed deep resentments that I had never known existed. The details of the story are irrelevant, but one brother went abroad, and the other brother died. The brother who went away came home too late. The father went broke with the medical bills, and the son who went away fumed that the father had not kept prized possessions, but instead systematically sold everything to pay the hospital. No one resents the brother for going away, or even for not coming home on time. The problem comes when the brother did not support those who needed him and worse, did not understand when others did what they needed to survive and thrive, just like he did when he left.

I am a mother. Of three 19-month-olds. I have beautiful triplets, a boy and two identical girls. They are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. When they laugh, I forget my concerns: money issues, family dramas, work catastrophes. But they have taught me that to survive, I need to make sure I wear my oxygen mask. I need to sleep, eat, go to the gym, and even, go to work. I want to be with them, but at the end of a long day without a break, I also find that I loose my grip of reality, and their laugh loses some of its special power. I need my oxygen mask so that I can help them find theirs.

Although I am not religious, I believe firmly in the Golden Rule, to do unto others as they would do to you. And frankly, I’d prefer to be helped by someone whose brain is not oxygen deprived. And I wonder what my children will think, years from now: will they be happy that the mother and father and nanny and babysitter and grandmother and grandfather were happy and smiling? Or would they have preferred to have their mother always with them, cranking and oxygen deprived? Not knowing for sure, of course, but I think I’d prefer the village with the oxygen masks.