Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garden Plants - Beware

It’s that time of year again when the days are long and sunny; the earth is warm and inviting. The time of year when gardeners both young and old head out to the local nurseries to select the plants that will grace their yards for the next few months. I love to admire the little baby flowers and the supple young tomato vines and dream of growing carrots and radishes that rival the pictures on the front of the seed packets. But all I can do is admire from afar, because my thumbs are not green – they are yellow grey the color of dead plants

With the possible exception of weeds, I seem destine to drain the life out of every piece of vegetation I encounter. My first garden produced a roaring harvest of tall brown grass, prickly weeds, an incredibly tall dandelion and three cherry tomatoes buried down underneath.

Houseplants are even worse. My husband won’t let me grow them anymore after that herbicide massacre thing. It was an innocent mistake! If one tablespoon of fertilizer in a gallon of water was good for my plants, imagine what half a cup of fertilizer in a cup of water would do. I had visions of huge vines of English Ivy wrapping itself around my kitchen while the kids had to push aside long fern tendrils to make their way to the dinner table.

Instead I got to watch my houseplants whither and dye right before my eyes. One minute they were green and healthy, the next they were brown lifeless piles of fibrous debris. Even the little cactus that the lady from the nursery had assured me could withstand almost anything, actually imploded right there in its pot.

The thing is that I do love working in my yard and the beauty that comes from a wide variety of plants and flowers. So this year, I had a plan.

First, I bought a garden statue and placed it in one of my flowerbeds. I figure, no matter what else happens, the pretty little swinging angle was guaranteed to make it through the summer without dying.

Next I spent several hours on the Internet and more hours consulting with experts in the field, searching for the strongest and toughest plants available. Shrubs that could accidentally be backed over by a minivan and still come back to life. Flowers with plenty of blooms for those times when my kids are inspired to surprise me with a bouquet of blossoms. Vegetables flexible enough to deal with a flood of water when the wading pool gets turned over on them, and drought resistant enough for those times I forget to water.

Believe it or not, I now have the perfect garden! My astro-turf is always the perfect shade of green, and I never have to mow it. Rock gardens are more exciting than one would imagine and fake flowers come in a wider variety of colors than the real thing. Best of all, if I prop the hose over the dog’s metal food-dish and turn on the water, it sounds just like a fountain.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Singing the Mother’s Day Blues

Recently my siblings and I received an email from our mother, announcing that she and her best friend (another mother of a bunch of grown children) had decided they no longer wished to receive gifts for Mothers Day. Her reasoning was that she already knew how much we all loved her and didn’t require any additional proof. Instead, she said, we should simply bask in the gifts and attentions of our own families.

This from the woman who never stopped celebrating Mother’s Day with her own mother until Grandma finally passed away.

Although I have not attempted to take on Mother’s day, I did try a few years ago to cancel my birthday. After about twenty-five, no one really wants to be reminded about the ceaseless ticking away of the life clock. Not that there is anything wrong with being thirty, forty, fifty, sixty etc… but who wants to have to have it thrown in their face on an annual basis. But, despite my best efforts, I still am forced, once a year, to celebrate my slowly declining body, diminishing eye-sight and the fact that there is no chance I will EVER have a body like Demi Moore.

But then Mother’s Day isn’t really about mother is it? This holiday was originally established by a daughter as a way for her and other children like her, to remember and honor all the years of sacrifice and effort her own mother had made in bringing her into the world and raising her.

As I look back on my own life, I know I didn’t really understand the depth of my own mother’s love or the challenges she faced raising me until I became a mother myself. As I held my first born baby daughter in my arms a few hours after she’d been born, I had this sudden understanding of my own mother’s life.

How can a child or teenager really get the immense weight that comes with caring for the every need of a helpless infant? Or the fear that freezes a mother’s heart when her young child wanders off in a department store? Mom’s knows from day one how vigilant they must be to protect their young from the evils of the world such as child molesters, pornography, or the tragic accidents are so often reported on the news. And oh, how long the hours of the night seem when a mother is up worrying about her teenager’s choices or waiting for him to get home safely from a late date. And despite her best efforts, every child will still go through heartache or suffering.

Over the course of her life, a mother spends countless hours washing dishes and clothes that never stay clean for long. They purchase cart load after cart load of food and make thousands of meals (about a third of which are met with less than stellar approval). They cleans toilets they didn’t dirty, mops up dirt they didn’t track in and live with the constant guilt that they still arn’t doing enough.

As I stood by my daughter’s hospital bed last July and watched her labor and deliver my beautiful baby grandson, I was reminded again of the chain that turns daughters into mothers. Tears ran down her cheeks, first from the pain and effort it took to deliver her son and then from the joy and trepidation of the responsibility she and her husband would now carry in raising that precious little child.

We children, whether adult or kids, need to take the time to celebrate Motherhood in general and specifically the Mothers in our lives. We need to give them gifts and take them out to dinner. We cannot forgot the efforts they made to bring us into the world and/or cared for and raised us through those trying adolescent years.
Okay, so I know that Mother’s day gifts are often cheesy. But sometimes, just the effort to think beyond oneself, if only for a few minutes, is an important experience for a child. One year my son bought me a bottle of French perfume from the dollar store that smelled like really strong moon-shine. I dumped the liquid out, and filled the bottle with water and blue food coloring. (My son never knew the difference when I dabbed a little on my wrist and told him how much I liked it.)

Our children learn to honor us as they watch us honor our own mother and my mother-in –law in May and through out the whole year. Not because either woman needs gifts, or because they have any doubt of our love for them. But because we need to do it, and our children need to see us do it.

Life is too short not to take every opportunity to show our love for our parents and to in turn accept the honor and love of our children. So Mom, I love you, but you’re just gonna have to deal with it!

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