Life flows. The garden and managing it’s bounty takes hours of my time. Whole weekends get dedicated to putting in spring starts, preserving tomatoes, catching up on weeding when I fall behind, which is often.
And then, in the turn of a season, the garden coasts. Weeds slow, crops round into maturity of their own accord. She needs a little top dressing maybe, a little harvesting, but basically she knows what she’s doing and I just enjoy the result, relaxing into the kind of satisfaction that comes when the work pays off.
I just put my daughter on the bus to school. She, too, is rounding into maturity. She is not yet a young woman, but there are moments when I can see her girlhood fading into memory.
She knows what she’s doing, where she’s going, what she needs to do. She manages her own affairs far more than I could have imagined nine years ago, when she was just thinking about worming, belly-down, across the carpet over to grab some particularly interesting toy.
My son, too, is starting to need me less. I can’t say I’m upset by this. I’ve always been the kind of mom who thinks my job is to raise independent people, and unending, unceasing giving to others, even to my own flesh and blood, has never struck me as a particularly balanced way to live. And yet, you get what you get, and my son for those first three years was the kind of kid who took up a lot of space in a room.
Making space for him was a full time job, and it damn near killed me. I don’t want to give the wrong impression. He’s wonderful. Charming, thoughtful, funny, smart, and very, very goal oriented. He wants what he wants, when he wants it, and he doesn’t want to take no for an answer. This is a personality trait with which I deeply sympathize, since he got it from me. And if I had the choice, I’d do it all again without question.
But, within the context of my life, which is quite blessed and easy as these things go, those first years with my son, my son who never slept, my son who feels his feelings, my son who goes from zero to meltdown just like that, they were just hard.
Mom’s aren’t supposed to feel frustration, or resentment, or anger towards their babies. Well, let me declare publicly that I am a damned good mom and I have felt all those things. And not just once – in those first couple years with my boy, I felt those “bad emotions” often. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said something like, “Can you give mommy three minutes to finish….oh, fuck, where did you get those oil pastels? Not the couch, are you fucking kidding me? Fuck!”
And yet here we are. Life flows. Seasons change. He’s sleeping, I’m sleeping. For the first time in nearly three years I feel like I can breathe. I want to see friends, go out with my husband, invite people in instead of hiding away inside my little bubble. The self-medicating with wine and chocolate has fallen away as I’ve clawed my way back up the stacked mountain of obligations and challenges and moments of pure bliss that we call life and realized I really can do this, and more than that: I really want to.
Seasons change. My son starts preschool today. I don’t have an infant anymore, or a challenging toddler, I have this remarkably fun little guy who asks punctuated questions and runs for the joy of going fast and can do lots of things for himself, which is, I think, all that he’s wanted all along.
Outside, too, we’ve moved on from the pressing eagerness of the summer harvest, where a million things cry to be dealt with right this instant. The weeds still grow, the tomatoes still ripen, there is still plenty to do.
But squash plants and cucumber plants are taking on that tell-tale yellowing that is unavoidable as the cooler nights and rains return. Leaves are getting blotchy as mildew finds conditions to it’s liking. Fall cabbages and chard and kale start to move to the forefront, lovely and unassuming and finally, in the crispness of the evenings, the makes of an appealing cool-weather meal.
Fall is my favorite time of year. The air feels like the crunch of a tart apple against your teeth. Damp earth, wood smoke, slow-braised suppers and clean, crushed cedar mingles into this comforting, honest scent that begs you to breathe in deeply, to clear the dazzle of summer from your lungs and to turn you back towards home and hearth.
A season is a period of the year related to the earth’s position with regards to the sun, of course. But it also means to flavor something, or to become accustomed to particular conditions. A bland soup must be seasoned. You can become a seasoned writer, or a seasoned gardener.
Some periods in our life add more spice – seasoning, both sweet and tart – and some season us, make use stronger. Here, on the cusp of the seasons, pause. Look back on those well seasoned times and know, gratefully, that they seasoned you.
Seasons change. Whatever’s next, bring on the turn. I’m ready for fall.