Sunday, May 10, 2009

Let us cultivate our garden

Most things came pretty easy to me. I could get pretty far by trying a little. I could have gotten farther if I tried harder, but I usually wasn't interested. If I could do well with 90% effort then I could reserve the other 10% for daydreaming. For wandering. For living fairytales. I graduated fourth in my class in high school. I got into Vassar. I got a great job straight out of graduate school. I might have been valedictorian if I tried a little harder, but I've always made a deal with myself to do well enough, and then go have some fun. My brother was valedictorian. He's always made a deal with himself to try really hard. I've always had fun, and I've done well enough.

I could kick your butt in Scrabble and annihilate you in Boggle but I don't like Sodukus because I find them to be hard and I don't enjoy the struggle. They're masochistic and I'd rather go do something fun.

Those were the fancies running through my mind today as I sat on the ground in the hot sun and cut away a swath of our grass. This was a project for E. She wanted to plant sunflowers. So I cared for her and her sister all morning and then while they both napped blissfully I toiled some more in their name.

If these sunflowers don't grow, how long will it take our yard to recover from this assault? And I think: it might never, really. Moss will slowly cover it, the sharp edges will slowly blur, like the stretch marks two pregnancies tracked across my abdomen.

Today you celebrated me, girls. You brought me a rose from the bagel shop, and school-made cards, and another magic bean plant. M asked what I wanted to do today, and I said I wanted to set up a vegetable garden. And so we all did.

We set up the girls' pool and their picnic table with snack food. They wandered between grapes and salami and splashing and swinging while M built a box and poured in the soil. Then the girls helped me plant.

The onions came with instructions to space evenly, and plant in straight rows. But I turned them over to the girls with instructions to "put in the dirt, and leave the tails sticking out."

M walked over to check our progress as L decided to pull down her pants. "Pull your pants up, L," he chided with a smile on his face. He walked away and she pulled them back down. Then she grabbed two fists of dirt and threw them up in the air, ticker-tape style. Mess! Yay! she yelled.

Then E and I dug a row of holes and in she dropped a hundred sunflower seeds. Back and forth she walked with her purple watering can, raiding her pool to feed her seeds, and then mine. As she watered I lay down on the grass in the waning sun, tired but happy. She jumped in the pool and then jumped on me. Mama, you're my towel!

I finished this day tired, callused, sore and happy. Mothering is the first very hard thing I've done that I've wanted to keep pursuing. You celebrated me, girls. I celebrate you. Happy Mother's day, my little loves. In that one shot, we made each of you. And now you both make me and remake me every day.

May 10, 2009 (Mother's Day)
The handiwork of pretty maidens, with nothing all in a row

It's a little haphazard, and so is my parenting. But its yield will undoubtedly be scrumptious.

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