Friday, April 08, 2005

After the Fire Comes Growth

Flower in the Fire
Taken at the San Diego Natural History Museum.
A thousand thanks to Catherine Jamieson for working her magic on this photo.

I had an interesting experience recently. When I was at a friend's house, she was feeling sad that she wouldn't be able to have a fourth kid, and she told me that as weird and potentially offensive as it may sound, she comforts herself by telling herself she's being greedy—after all, as she said, "I have THREE and you have only one!" ;^) Last Friday I went to another friend's house; she has to stay flat on her back for two weeks, as she just underwent an insemination procedure and wants to give the swimmers a chance (and needs to recover)...and I realized I probably seem infinitely blessed sometimes to those trying to conceive their first child.

Although I'd like to have more kids someday, I do feel incredibly blessed to have my son. It was thought-provoking to see myself through my friends' eyes somewhat and notice the difference in perspective.

Perspective counts for a lot. After I moved out of my son's dad's house with our son, I felt lost. I longed for what had been my vision of family: a mom and dad living together, married, waking up with their kids each morning, working together to raise them and seeing them every day...instead of shuttling the kids from house to house every weekend. I felt like a failure, although I'd done everything I humanly could to hang on to that vision and make it work somehow. The trouble with my family vision, though, was that I couldn't realize it on my own, and my son's dad didn't share my dream.

I started taking Mommy and Me yoga classes with my son, and occasionally I'd chat with the other moms. I loved that class until my son got big enough to toddle around the room, yanking on wall decorations and playing with the stereo. During one chat with a younger mom, I mentioned that I was without my son every single weekend and I hated it. "Wow," she said, "I wish I had that sort of arrangement."

Like I said, it's about perspective.

Going back to blessings, though...I took my little blessing to Balboa Park recently, to the Rueben H. Fleet Museum (science) and Natural History Museum. We really spent only an hour in each (late in the day) but it seemed like longer. My kiddo loves to play in Kid City (it has various gizmos to play with, and a pretend store!) at the Fleet, and to press all the buttons he can find in the whole place. Let's not forget the supercool periscope! At the Natural History Museum, we saw the wildfire and chocolate exhibits. My boy was disappointed by the chocolate exhibit—I think he'd expected it to be like a candy store, where he could actually get chocolate. Hey, I tried to warn him. Why don't kids like to see ancient Aztec grinding bowls, hmm? ;^) He was, however, fascinated by the looping video (macro) of various processes in a chocolate factory, but the wildfire exhibit was much more interesting for him. He got to play in the dress-up box and try on butterfly, firefighter and flower costumes, and play with puppets shaped like racoons, skunks, porcupines and other animals.

October 2003 was the time of the wildfires in Southern California, and although my son tells me he has no memory of the helicopters that scooped up water from our nearby lake, I haven't forgotten the choking ash and dark skies that seemed to last for months. Ash covered everything on our deck, we kept the windows closed so as to keep the indoor air breathable, and I wept as I read stories online about people who were caught unaware by the fire and died. I also packed up our baby photos, clothes, and other items I considered important, and when the worst of the fires was over, my neighbor generously hosed off my deck after she cleaned hers. A new start.

That's just what I need.