Photo: The Husband, eager to get the garden started, has planted seeds and put them in the basement. It hasn’t taken long for little sprouts to start shooting up. These little starts of somethin’s will either thrive or fail. Sometimes because of luck. Sometimes because of our decisions. Some of them may not even get started at all. This is how a garden grows. This is how life works.
Ursa Major and I had a hard time this morning. I thought he was lying to me. He thought he was telling me the truth. The conflict now over and both boys now away to school, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that we were both right.
As with all the men I love most in my life, Ursa Major and I argue philosophically. Facts are usually agreed upon, yet approach is up for fierce debate. It makes for frustration and fascination on both of our parts. His stubbornness always surprises me, and so does his gumption: he is not easily intimidated. There was a moment this morning when I was glaring at him, stooping down to have our eyes meet so that he could see my frustration. He leaned forward, raising his chin a bit. Here I am, his face said. I’m frustrated too. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. Who is this little man? How did he get this way?
Oh right. That’s my doing.
Ursa Major always makes me question if I’m doing this right. He always makes me wonder if I’m winning battles but losing something far larger. He’s a wonderful child, don’t get me wrong. He’s sweet, he has the capacity for kindness (does he always show it? Well…), he intelligent, well spoken… but does he listen? Does he know when to follow and when to lead? Does he take responsibility for his actions? Is he forthright and truthful? Can he be manipulative? When should I start to worry about these things? How do I steer him in the right directions without becoming is constant and unrelenting adversary?
I parked the Blackmobile in the school parking lot and calmly made him try to come correct… to make him understand my frustration. It took a while of circling around the same points and I’m not sure that he really understands. Eventually it broke down to the age-appropriate points of contention: “I’m sad because you are mad at me,” he said.
“I love you. I love you so much that I get angry when you do things like this,” I told him. “And it hurts my feelings that you don’t trust me. You have to believe that what I say to you is true.”
And that’s where my Quiet Thoughts live. I think that this matter of trust is a seedling that sometimes thrives, sometimes dies. I know that Major trusts me, that he loves me, that he knows how much he means to me. But as his world expands, as he is introduced to more and more voices and choices, he and I will continually have a push and pull within our own relationship. He has to trust me. For now, he has to trust that my words should not be filtered. When I speak, he needs to listen. Of all the voices that must pierce through, there are two: mine and his father’s. Eventually, this won’t be the case, but today and for a good while longer, it must be so.
Because this is the gardening time. The early years of basic building blocks are over: he can walk, talk, feed himself, dress… he can function and, more importantly, he has the social and intellectual capacity to be taught and to learn. The garden bed has been built. It’s time to plant the seeds of morality and philosophy. This is the training of boyhood. We plant the seeds now and then he tests the strength of every single thing that sprouts during his adolescence. Everything I do is a seed that is planted: when I fight by yelling or refusing to listen. When I’m calm and deliberate. When I ignore and let him learn the hard way. And that’s where I worry… because I know that there are ways to do this poorly. To make wrong decisions. Lord, I know that I will screw this up a few times. Those screw-ups will produce sproutlets, too. We’ve yet to plant a garden bed without finding a few surprises and this will be no different.
I think, ultimately, Motherhood is the ultimate test of every moral and philosophical idea within my own life. Indeed, it is the final exam for the biggest and hardest question I can ever ask: Do I truly and fully trust myself?
My dear, Dear Reader, it is gray day with flurries that just came through. The wind has died down and the cold has softened, but I do wonder where the promised Spring is hiding. There is still plenty of snow on the lawn, few buds on the trees and plenty of soup to still be enjoyed. Enjoy another weekend of cozy fires, hot chocolate and a good book. Soon, it will be time to get outside and get something done.
On this Friday, I wish you seeds. Inspiration for a new project around the house, perhaps? Maybe a new personal project, taking up something that you’ve never done before. Could this be the weekend when you sit down and start typing out that story that has been in your head forever? Or maybe this is the weekend when you step up and sing your song during open mic night or recite that poem in front of a crowd. I wish you a brave moment this weekend, a short burst of gumption that makes you step up and out. I wish you something fresh and bright to set up against these last days of a winter that has outstayed its welcome. Perhaps some forced tulip bulbs to put in the window? Matter of fact, I wish you the opportunity to bring a little brightness and cheer to someone else. When was the last time you visited your elderly neighbor or a shut-in family member? Pick up a pretty little bouquet and go over for a spell. Maybe you’ll get a good story out of it. No matter what, you’ll be doing a bit of good. I wish you a squeeze of your hand, a kiss on the cheek, and the warmth of good company. Go make a new friend this weekend, Dear Reader. No matter where you roam, take with you the knowledge that you are loved beyond measure and admired from near and far. You light up the room for someone, Dear Reader, and your laughter makes someone’s day. Never forget that your presence matters and even your smallest gestures make great waves in the lives of others. That’s what happens when you are infinitely beautiful.
Until Monday, laugh, sing, dance, be brave, step up, reach out and take care.