As I write this, I am currently up-to-date with my On Demand corners-of-child-rearing viewing of Astronaut Wives Club (I know, I KNOW. Mom victory!) and 3/4 of the way through the true-story book that inspired the show.
I first ingratiated myself in astro-culture when my sister said, “You have to watch this show. Seriously.” She said “seriously”, so I tabled my go-to excuses of having no time and I’m-so-tired-I’m-passing-out-as-soon-as-I-get-the-kids-in-bed and got on board. And I’m so glad I did.
As I started watching and loving the show, I knew I must read the book too–this was a fascinating piece of American history to explore! So I snatched a copy up from the library and dug in.
And I am wowed. Wowed as this era of history becomes vibrantly real to me in way that my 7th grade social studies books were unable to deliver.
As I excitedly delve into the world of the wives of the first astronauts and their families, Rene, Trudy, Betty, Jo, Louise, Marge, and Annie have become my new heroes.
In days marked by tremendous change and great uncertainty, their incredible class and grace under fire is astoundingly inspiring. Of course they weren’t perfect, but they got so much so darn right–in a time when it mattered so darn much.
1) They valued friendship. They had young kids and were jealously, constantly competing for their own husband’s flight status. They decided to be friends and commit to supporting each other anyway. How boss.
2) They got up every morning and got dressed. Listen, I’ll never stop being a fan of yoga pants, I promise, but I also know when I get up in the morning and pull myself together, the tone for the day is be far more positively set. Dressing for success is a real thing.
3) They supported their husbands. Regardless of whatever era or movement we’re in, standing up for what your partner believes in and encouraging them along the way will never go out of style.
4) They didn’t give up on their own dreams. Trudy’s passion for flying and Rene’s refusal to let go of her own voice? Inspiring.
5) They lived their lives regardless of their children. I know, I struggle with this one too. But the truth is, there was a time and place in history when children were not the central force around which all adults orbited. Moms cooked, cleaned, and made time to chat with friends while the kids entertained themselves. And they still turned out okay.
6) In the big moments, they were together. Regardless of what was going on in their own lives, when someone’s husband was launched into space in a rocket, they made sure they were together. When the American president was shot, they came together to mourn. The commitment to remain beside someone is a valuable gift.
7) The “little things” mattered. Granted, to a 1960s Texas housewife, air-conditioning was not a “small thing”, but they didn’t take for granted the conveniences as we so often do in modern-day. They knew a running washing machine was (and it still is) a blessing.
8) They knew that, at the end of the day, things were beyond their control. Watching your husband launch into space in a small vessel had a way of reinforcing that regardless of endless planning and prepping, you had no control over what happened. This life can change in a blink of an eye. Time to start praying indeed.
9) Privacy mattered. The Astrowives were in the media, but they maintained boundaries within their Life magazine contract. While it was important to share their stories with the world, what was private family stuff appropriately remained private family stuff.
10) They kept putting one foot in front of the other. The idea of Betty Grissom mowing her lawn in her curlers while her husband prepared to shoot into space gorgeously highlights the value of getting up every day and doing what’s before us, regardless of how big and daunting life may be. To me, this is true heroism.
So, Astrowives, here’s my Standing O to all of your classy coolness. Well done. Well done. The world may long remember your husbands, but to me, you’ll always be the superstars who rocked the Space Age.
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