Of Mothers and Air Traffic Controllers

by Erika Tellier-Angley

When asked to write about motherhood, a million and one thoughts came to mind. Do I write about the circus act of being a working mom? Do I write about being a working  mother of a child on the autism spectrum? Or do I write about the anxieties and exhaustion that seem to accompany motherhood?

In exploring and settling on a topic, I came across a quote on motherhood by Lisa Alther that succinctly describes my experience:

“Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease.”

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Dad Edward with Connor and Liam.

Fast forward to June 2009. I had just gotten off the phone with my brother who announced that they were happily expecting their second child. “They’re out of their mind! Brody just turned one in March… don’t they want to sleep?!?!” I thought.

The next day though, which was Father’s Day, I found myself in the bathroom, staring at two pink lines on a home pregnancy test in utter and complete disbelief. I called to my husband, who was blissfully feeding Connor cheerios.

“Edward, lines don’t lie, right?” He rushed in, and peered at the stick on the counter:

“Shut up. Shut. Up.”

“Happy First Father’s Day, babe.”

And so my training began….

My pregnancy  with  Liam  was  the  complete  opposite  with that of Connor. I was never uncomfortable when Connor was in utero, and it seemed that Liam was bent on letting me know that I was the “alien host.” Liam would roll and dive in the womb non-stop.

I was back at work while pregnant with Liam and during a lecture on Geoffrey  Chaucer’s  The Canterbury Tales,  a  student  raised  his  hand cautiously, “Mrs. A? Did you make your stomach do that just now?” Liam had chosen that exact moment to do a somersault and stretch out as far as he could. I shook my head ‘no’ and the student’s girlfriend looked him dead in the eye, “You are NOT going to do THAT to me. EVER.”

Liam spent eight days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit following his birth,  hooked  up  to more  machines  than  I  could  count,  due  to  his underdeveloped lungs. The back and forth between home and the hospital, all while managing a 15-month old and trying to recuperate, brought me to the realization that I had to juggle all the parts of this life now.

I knew that I could always count on my husband and parents to help, however, they weren’t always going to be right by my side on a day in, day out, basis.

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Edward and Erika on their wedding day.

My nickname is now “the glue” and as one can infer, I keep everything together. I manage  the  chaos  to  an organized state.

I’ve become the master of the calendar, enforcer of day in and day out routines and structure down to the minute, all while being flexible and sacrificing my own needs for my boys. I handle blips on my radar, big and  small,  in the  same manner, as to not upset the flow of my house.

Although there have been some desperate moments, there haven’t been any crash landings on my shift.

Liam will be five years old on January 13th, and I am in awe of how I manage to keep my house running smoothly. Connor and Liam are the best of friends, and although part of my job responsibilities now includes being a toy hostage negotiator, I wouldn’t give up my sons’ snuggles or kisses for anything. Their personalities are starting to emerge, and the “one-liners” that they utter are hilarious.

Time spent at the breakfast and dinner table has become a time to practice their “comedy routine.” The most recent iteration had to do with a TV  commercial  they  saw  while  watching a  program  on Disney Junior:

“Hey Mommy! You know what you should get yourself for Christmas? The Magical Flying Tinker Bell! She even has fairy dust!”

How did they know that’s exactly what I want?


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Edward and Erika with sons Connor and Liam.

Erika is a National Board Certified teacher and a very dear friend. Yes, I nicknamed her “the glue” because I am in awe with how she manages with ease all the “traffic” of being a working mother in New York City. She takes care of her lovely family so well, teaches like a champion to students in Harlem, and still finds time to support her struggling colleagues in any way possible. She has the softest heart ever and manages to always look beautiful, whether at home or at work.

4 thoughts on “Of Mothers and Air Traffic Controllers

  1. The undying love of a mother never ceases… not even certificates from any institution can grasp a mother’s authentic love towards her family.

    Liked by 1 person

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