Every few days I walk the perimeter of our backyard. It is a nice yard, not too big. It is a simple rectangle with a patio and a lawn. I can see the whole yard from the patio, not typically the kind of property that would need someone to walk its perimeter.
But I do. I walk the perimeter checking the fence. I make sure every board is in place, that no new gaps have appeared since the last time I checked, just a few days prior.
Because one time, one of those boards was loose. Moe walked by, and it must have tipped over. He walked right through it into the neighbor's yard.
He wasn't scared. He wasn't escaping anything. He was just curious, saw an opening and walked through.
I didn't see him go through the fence. I was there in the yard with him. He was swinging, and I looked away. Maybe there was a bird. Maybe I stooped to pick a weed out of a crack in the patio or swat away a bee. When I looked back up the swing was going, empty, like a scene from a stranger danger PSA.
"Moe?" I called, peering into the playhouse, the one spot he can hide in our yard. He wasn't there.
I don't know what made me check the fence. But I saw the hole. I rushed through, thankful that I was able to fit. Moe was right there. I grabbed him (and our dog who had of course followed us through), my heart pounding, and ran into the house. Locking the door safely behind me.
I was lucky. Moe was there. He was right there.
Moe was lost once other time, at school. They messed up, two aides each thinking the other had him. He popped into an open classroom. He could have been anywhere, including the creek they walked to every Friday afternoon.
Again, were were lucky.
Moe has been lost twice. Twice found. But I have nightmares about losing him. Shouting his name as he walks away. Begging people to grab him while no one listens.
We recently trimmed some branches from our grapefruit tree. Moe has learned to climb the tree, and as the branches grew closer to the neighbor's fence, I could see him peering over the top. It wouldn't be long before he decided to leap right over.
We are diligent. We are paranoid. And yet, we are human. Just the other day, Moe and I were in the yard. The dog started scratching at the neighbor's dog through the fence. I rushed over to stop her, knowing that the scratching could compromise the fence in that spot. When I looked up, I didn't see Moe. He was fine, just in the opposite corner of the yard.
This week, we lost several beautiful children (in unrelated incidences) who wandered from safe places and drowned. My heart breaks for them, for their families and caregivers. I will not dwell on the people who have chosen judgement and blame. I do not know what happened, but I do know how it could happen. How it has happened. To me. To Moe. Unless you've lived it, you do not know.
We are diligent. But we have also been very lucky.
May 16, 2013
Listen to Your Mother show. Fourteen of us took the stage, sharing our stories to give "mother's day a microphone."
I live in San Jose, about an hour's drive south of San Francisco, and was full of nervous energy as I drove north on the 101 freeway. I psyched myself up on the drive, talking to myself out loud. I practiced my piece, especially the last line. I didn't want to get choked up on stage. I looked for messages of inspiration in the billboards. One was for an upcoming movie and stated "It's going to be epic." "It is!" I said aloud. Another, for a local hospital, pictured an enormous baby fist. I threw my fist in the air and gave that baby a fist bump as I drove by. "Bam!" I said. "Let's rock this thing."
The last time I was similarly inspired on the freeway was in the mid 1990's. I was a couple years out of college, driving from Berkeley to Palo Alto for a job interview. I drove, south this time, through the tech corridor. It was an exciting time in Silicon Valley, and I felt that entrepreneurial spirit building within me as I passed billboard after billboard for tech companies quite literally creating the future. I got the job that day, doing tech support for a startup called WebTV, despite my complete lack of technology experience. It was a defining time in my life.
Sometimes that drive down 101 seems a lifetime ago. I've been a stay at home parent for six years. We are coming up on the four year anniversary of my son's autism diagnosis. I recently had a round number birthday. It is easy to get bogged down in this life of special needs parenting, to focus on getting through the day and forget to be inspired. To feel like the best is behind us.
Listen to this mother when I tell you it is not. There is something about standing on a stage in front of 300 people and baring your soul. I owe so much to the producers of the San Francisco show, who put their faith in me. They allowed me the opportunity to not just share my story, but also to prove to myself that I have so much more to do. And to the other women in the cast, who shared so much of themselves and reminded me that we can learn from and support each other, no matter how diverse our experiences.
And most importantly, that a good cry, followed by a really great laugh, can get you through just about anything.
Photos courtesy of ZemyaPhotography. Video from Listen To Your Mother will be available this summer. I will post my piece here in the near future.