This is my first posting. I’m so excited. I realized this morning that a very few of my friends and family are not on Facebook, or are not my “friends” on Facebook. This is the perfect way to share what I am writing with everyone I know.
For my first post, I’d like to talk about kids. Sometimes I regret not having any, but then I realize that there’s probably a reason for that, and I may even be able to take a gander as to what that reason is.
When I wanted to have kids, I mean really wanted them, I wasn’t mature enough for them. It was all about me, and the women who I met, who would want a long term relationship probably noticed that, and would probably not want to commit to anything long term. I lacked the confidence they were looking for, and who could blame them for not wanting to be with a man who didn’t believe in himself.
I had to grow that confidence. I had to slowly build that maturity. I remember about 14 years ago when I killed a Chia Pet out of neglect and thought I was doomed to solitude for the rest of my life. But then a friend gave me a peace lily, a very hard to kill plant, and I watched it grow. I watered it, I gave it exactly the amount of sunlight it needed, and it grew. Not a great accomplishment considering the heartiness of this plant, but still, some confidence was born.
When I moved to my new home in Sterling, the peace lily died. I tried to keep it alive, but my new home just didn’t have enough light to sustain it. It was about that time that I rescued a dog. I had to! Her name was Jamaica, and her add said, “Woof mon! Bark mon! Take me home mon!”. So I did. I took her home. She is still with me today, 11 years old, happy, active, and for the most part healthy. Lately she has been having some balance problems, and a year ago her spleen needed to be removed on an emergency basis because it had filled with blood, and was about to rupture. But she doesn’t know that she isn’t as healthy as she used to be. She still has a light in her eyes when I pick her up from dog daycare, or when I come home after being out for a few hours. She still greets me, still wags her tail, and every once in a while, when, I’m taking her for a walk, she starts prancing, and turns to look up at me, and I swear she is smiling.
A few months ago, my neighbor dragged me to a nursery to by some plants. I decided to buy another peace lily, and some petunias for outside. Why? Well, I wanted to give the peace lily another try, because I thought I might have figured out why the last plant stopped growing and then died. The petunias seemed to required the correct light for what the outside of my home had to offer, but really I knew nothing about them. I asked the salesperson at the nursery what type of soil I should buy, how much water I should give them, and whether or not I should use fertilizer. She gave me all of the information, and I did exactly what she said to do. At first, they thrived. So much that I had to replant some of them in a second pot. But then they started to die, and I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. So again I asked for some help from some friends and family. They told me I needed to pluck off the dead flowers, and two more would grow in each flower’s place. So I started to do this, and here is the result.
The Peace Lily also thrived, so I decided to buy a second plant. A nerve plant is what it’s called. Also very hearty. It began to grow so quickly that I had to replant it in a bigger container within a week. Now it’s stretching the boundaries of that container, so it’s time to get a bigger one.
Then Seri the cat became a part of my life. Seri was my first cat, and I had no idea what I was doing. She disappeared for 3 days, and I wasn’t seeing anything in her litter box. I asked for help, and most people just said to relax and that she will be fine, but when I find her to confine her to a room until she get’s comfortable with the dog and with me. She did turn up, and I did what I was told, and now I have a happy cat.
After about 2 weeks, I decided Seri needed a playmate. So Bene the kitten entered our lives. I didn’t make the same mistakes I made before. I did what people told me to do. I didn’t worry that the cats were hissing at each other, or that Bene was terrified of the dog. Jamaica was showing no aggression towards either cat, so I simply kept introducing her slowly to Bene, and I would slowly let the cats spend time together in my bedroom unsupervised since they weren’t killing each other.
Then one day I walked into the room after leaving them alone for a couple of hours to find them rolling around on the bed like they were one big fur ball. They chased each other around the room, jumped on each other; they were playing! I brought the dog in, and although Bene was obviously still scared, he was also batting at the dogs tail and chasing her around. Now if he finishes eating before Jamaica does, he will go down and sit next to her, and growl at her to try to get more food. All 2 pounds of him growling at my 45 pound dog.
Then I found out the Peace Lily was toxic to cats. My neighbor took it off my hands and I purchased an Ardie, which is perfectly safe.
I started thinking about why people have kids. Of course some of it is to make sure the human race continues forward, or to carry on the traditions or customs of the family, or the family name. But for me it would mostly be about being able to take care of something. It would be about making mistakes and learning from them. It would be about watching them grow, and thrive, be happy. It would be about knowing that I had something to do with that happiness.
So I guess I do have kids. They just aren’t human, but in a way, they will teach me and have taught me and offered me even more. In the case of Jamaica, I’ve become so much stronger, being able to nurture her through her struggles and illness. When it’s finally her time, and I truly hope that isn’t any time soon, I will know that she lived a happy, fulfilling life, and not because I did everything right, but because I did the best I could possibly do for her and loved her so much. I plan to do this with all of my kids, whether or not I ever have human ones, and at least for me, that is what being a parent is all about.
By the way, just in case you haven’t noticed it, there’s a lot of metaphor here. Possibly the biggest lesson I’ve learned here is that nothing grows in the dark, including me. When I first moved to Sterling, I isolated a lot. I got the dog, and that got me outside, but at home, I was deeply depressed and lonely. The Peace Lily died, and I couldn’t figure out why. After being here a little while though, I started to become more active. I got to know my neighbors, I would speak to them outside when we would be taking our dogs for walks, and I began to feel comfortable in my new home. So if you haven’t guessed it yet, I did one, very simple thing that allowed the plants which are currently in my home to survive. It took me about 7 1/2 years to figure this out, and finally decide to get more plants. What did I do? I pulled back the curtains, I opened the blinds, I let in the sunlight.
Nothing grows in isolation. We all need to love and to be loved. We teach each other, we learn from each other, and together we thrive. Today I have a zoo in my home, but I occasionally call it my family. I let the outside world into my home, and in turn I explore it. Today I have grown up just a little bit, and there is nothing I can’t do.