The first time we went to see space shuttle Endeavour was Mother’s Day 2013. It was exactly what I wanted to do on my special day. It was awe-inspiring to see, close-up, a piece of machinery that had safely traveled into space twenty-five times.
The second time we saw the space shuttle was just a few days ago on my son’s sixth birthday. This time it was his choice to celebrate his birthday exploring the California Science Center.
Standing there with my family, all I could do was marvel. Looking from the space shuttle to my son’s face full of wonder, I just kept recognizing the parallels between the two.
Both my son and the space shuttle are miraculous creations. The space shuttle began as a vision and through science and engineering became a reality. Likewise, my son began as a dream. Through the miracle of the human body, he is a reality.
Both my son and the space shuttle are vessels capable of pushing the limits. For the space shuttle, it was pushing the boundaries of the Earth’s atmosphere and navigating the streets of Los Angeles as it crawled its way to its current home at the California Science Center. For my son, it’s his limitless future. My son is living in a different world than the world I grew up in -- a world that now includes an African-American United States President and a world where computers fit in your pocket.
Being an astronaut was once my long-held childhood dream. I was fascinated by space exploration and believed I would travel into space. Strangely enough, being a mother was never a preoccupation of mine. Some little girls grow up playing with baby dolls, fantasizing about changing diapers and pushing strollers, but I wasn’t one of them. I knew I wanted to someday be a mother, but someday was far off and would come after I had lived my life a bit and achieved some other goals.
Now, both the space shuttle and my son are passions of mine. While I never did become an astronaut, I retained my interest and zeal for manned space flight and loved sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm with my students (and now with my son). Being a mother to my son is my greatest honor and greatest joy; consequently, parenting is something I feel strongly about. I read about it, I write about it, and I live it -- I tell my son that I will never run out of hugs, kisses, or “I love you’s.”
On my son’s sixth birthday, I looked up at the space shuttle and felt my eyes water. On my son’s sixth birthday, my eyes watered throughout the day. I became teary eyed thinking about the evening of his birth, looking at baby pictures, and looking at this big boy who is my son. A space shuttle in California. A six-year-old son. They may be facts of life now, but it doesn’t make them any less extraordinary.