Cady Coleman is like many moms, unfortunately spending Mother’s Day away from her family. But unlike the others, Coleman is an astronaut on the international space station, orbiting 220 miles above the Earth.
She’s the only woman on board. Hopefully, the boys up there gave her Sunday off. Usually each crew member gets one day a week to chill.
Coleman may be an astronaut, but first and foremost she is a mom. Cady sent me an e-mail a few days back. I could tell she was just beaming while writing about how her 10-year-old son, Jamey, had struck out three batters in one inning in his Little League game.
She just sent me this message telling me what it has been like up there, the work she is doing and why it is so important, and her feelings on being so far away on this day. So now, in her words:
“Being a mom is special, and distance doesn’t change the bond we have with those we love. It never goes away, even when you leave the planet for a few months! It seems like just yesterday that Paolo Nespoli, Dmitry Kondratyev and I strapped ourselves into a frozen and creaking Russian Soyuz rocket, and were launched into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. For the past five months, I’ve made the International Space Station (ISS) my home in low earth orbit, circling our Earth 16 times every single day at 17,500 miles per hour. From 200 miles above the earth, my husband Josh and sons Jamey and Josiah seem both close – and far.
"I get to talk to my family almost every day via an internet protocol phone, and once a week we get to see each other on a video conference. I still miss lots of important events and occasions, but thanks to Josh, Jamey writes a short journal entry almost every day. Josh sends it to me and I love to hear about life from the perspective of a 10 year old. Jamey is fond of a cartoon where a small boy and a tiger share adventures and get themselves into all sorts of mischief.
"I brought a small stuffed tiger up here with me and I take photos for Jamey so that he can relate to what his Mom does on the space station. From the tiger’s perspective, there is a lot of great trouble to get into here on the ISS!
"Life in our ‘zero gravity’ world on the ISS is fascinating. We talk about floating around, but really we get to fly from place to place. It is just like Peter Pan, except that we are grownups! This place brings out the child in all of us, and it is a nice reminder to me to treasure the things and the people that touch my heart.
"I love looking out the window at our Earth – a fragile oasis in a busy universe. When I see the places that I know – the places where my family lives – it makes me feel closer to them, although still a bit wistful and lonely when I see those places recede over the horizon.
"It was hard for me to go so far away, but I’m hoping that I set an example for my child and others to follow their dreams. My family knows that I love the work that I am doing up here, and that I think it is important enough to be gone from home for so long.
"Today as I look down at our beautiful Earth, I think of mothers everywhere and realize that we are all of one family. I am not the only one who is farther from their loved ones than they would wish to be. Today we celebrate those women who are supporting their families, following their dreams and making a difference, and we thank all of them.
"I’d especially like to thank the women who serve our countries in jobs that keep them from home on holidays like this one.
"Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, step mom, mother-in-law and to moms everywhere.”