I’ve been thinking about the word ‘wow’ lately, for two reasons. Steve Jobs’ sister said that his dying words were “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.” And I just finished Anne Lamott’s little book Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers. All of which has got me to thinking – When was the last time I said ‘wow’? When was the last time something took my breath away, knocked me flat on my bum, made me realize (in that split second that it takes to say ‘wow’) that as much as I pretend to be Empress of All That Is, there are amazing things out there that are simply beyond my ken?
We say ‘wow’ when Bear has a particularly good round of Uno, but we don’t necessarily mean it the way a beach sunset is wow. What made Steve Jobs say what he did – was a look back or a look forward? What took his breath away as his breath ebbed away? Why the wow?
Maybe it’s not coincidence that WOW spelled upside down is MOM. My life is full of details and to-do lists and pragmatics. I am always planning something, carrying out the plan, or post-morteming the past plan. Something always has to get done – hair deloused, hutch dusted, a Sunday bulletin proofed, dinner made, toilet paper rolls recycled. But for me, the planning has edged out the wow. There is just no room for amazement in my well-planned life. Plans resist spontaneity. Wow takes too much mindfulness, too much time.
But what kind of mom am I if I don’t show my child the Wow? What if she never learns anything about amazement from me? What if fireworks never knock her on her bum, or a kiss, or a Bernini sculpture? What if all she wants to be when she grows up the next Empress of All That Is?
Wow. That would not be good.
P.S. A few days after I wrote this, I picked my daughter up from an after-school activities. The clouds were forming what would be a gorgeous sunset. She looked up and said, “Wow.” And so did I.