Monday, August 23, 2010

Lessons about Mud.

Yesterday Jackson played in the mud.

While most mother's are fearful of the "I looked away for one second..." followed by a tale of danger that brings terror to every mother's heart, my story regularly goes more like this:
I looked away for one second and Jackson was covered in dirt. In this particular case, it was mud. There is one mud puddle on the entire farm right now and Jackson found it. The sticky looking pit in the driveway was caused by the sprinkler. As I turned away from Jackson to adjust said sprinkler I didn't give it a second thought. I should have known better.

A couple days prior Jackson went on a walk with Grami up the driveway while I was tending to the farmers market. She looked away for one second and "it was like he was swimming in the dirt." As she described it, he was belly-down in the field with arms and legs submerged. So I had plenty of warning that his affinity toward dirt was rather strong.

The real kicker, though, is that he was wearing his brand new Converse shoes- both times. Now, I have owned the same pair of Converse since 2002. They are tan and look like I've been through a battlefield with them- because I have. I love am obsessed with my Converse and will not trade them in for a new pair until I can feel the gravel between my toes. However, my initial reaction to the scene that I turned toward after wrangling with the sprinkler would say otherwise. 

Let's just say I had a bad mommy moment.

I grabbed Jackson out of the puddle, held him out in front of me at arm's length (he had been sitting in the puddle) and said, "no, no, no!" while pointing at the source of Converse shoe demise. 

His shock was evident on his little, mud smeared face. Then he was mad. Really mad. How could I be so unreasonable?

At the same moment I thought, "How could I be so unreasonable?". Yes, I paid too much for those shoes in the name of baby fashion. Yes, I had just given Jackson a bath. Yes, mud is, well, very dirty. But where's the harm in letting him play in the mud- it washes off.  He'll grow out of those shoes by December anyway.
In my guilt I placed him back in the puddle. This was very confusing and he stood there frozen for a second, looked up at me, looked down at the puddle, pointed, and said, "no, no, no" as his shoes disappeared into the oozing abyss. The puddle had lost its lure and he toddled away down the driveway with the dog, all offenses forgotten.

I continued to feel awful. I had just unnecessarily disciplined Jackson for doing something he was absolutely loving just because I was worried about his shoes. Shouldn't his emotional well-being take precedence over his material possessions? Shouldn't there be a mommy manual that says, "If you overreact like this, you will feel like crap and you will send confusing messages to your child- so don't overreact."?  

At the end of the day Jackson was clean, his shoes were salvaged and we snuggled extra long before bedtime to make up for it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where the Wild Things Grow

It's been hiding in my backyard for awhile now. I don't let friends, family or guests go back there for fear they will either judge me or get lost forever in the jungle of foliage.

I love my garden, but you'd never be able to tell. Actually, I love the thought of my garden. I love the thought of strolling through the perfect rows, not a weed in sight, while sipping my coffee on early, dewy mornings. I bend over occasionally to check the status of a budding tomato or infant squash. As I make my way back through the lush, productive vegetation I pluck off ripe and ready fruits with glorious summer recipes in mind. I am wearing a summer dress. I am barefoot.  

(the haze around the edge of the screen slowly disappears and the sounds of wind chimes dissipate in the background)

I have weeds. The poky kind and the tall kind. I have to wear combat boots to get to the corn, which is infested with grasshoppers, and the broccoli, which has lace-like leaves. I'm pretty sure they aren't supposed to be that way. My herb garden, while producing, shares much of it's space with ants and, of course, weeds.

So here I am, confessing my green thumb sins and wiping the slate clean.

Green Thumb Sin #1: Believing I had a green thumb
Okay. I never really thought I had a green thumb, but, like many of things I've wanted in life, I thought I could change the parts that were never really in my control anyway. I scoff at people who buy all the latest scrap booking, stamping, photography paraphernalia, who sign up for an entire year's worth of subscriptions and classes on the subject, who start off so strong and who have nothing to show for it all, but a closet full of hobby and a half-finished memory book you can't even open because the pages stick together from the glue.

I am that person.

Green Thumb Sin #2: Being a time-whore
There are things you must devote your time to and then there are things you choose to devote your time to. I must devote my time to my son, my job, my relationships, my animals, my business, my sleep. These things leave roughly -5 (as in "negative five") hours for me to devote my chosen time to- things like recreational activities, facebook (she says sheepishly), my blog, community activities, vacation, yoga, my garden. Of course, I fit some of these activities in, but they are on a priority only basis. Sadly, facebook is easier than gardening at the end of a long day. (she says even more sheepishly)

Green Thumb Sin #3: Doing it the hard way
I wanted organic. I didn't own a hoe. I have an 18 month old child who has an uncontrollable attraction to tractors. The tractor is on the opposite side of the farm from the garden. Going on vacation for a week (or a weekend) is not good for gardens.
I like to think these were hurdles that kept me from my dream garden, but reading back over them I know they are just excuses. I mean, they really did hinder my efforts toward a bountiful harvest as going organic means pulling more weeds,means necessity for a hoe, means more time spent in the garden,  means chasing Jackson down the driveway toward the "tracka", means no time for vacations anyway. But deep down I know that if my garden was a priority then these would not have been hurdles.

Green Thumb Sin #4: Expectation of inheritance
You should see my mom's garden. Strategically placed Sunflowers and a white fence frame fruit trees and perfect rows of lush vegetables. When I call her house before 8pm in the summers I don't expect her to answer because I know she's out in the garden.
My fault is in thinking some of this would be passed on to me- that somehow because we share the same kind of knees that we would also share the same kind of thumbs... the green kind.
Also, my dad is a farmer. 'Nuff said.
I know I committed more than four green thumb transgressions. However, I feel I have been forgiven because there is a farmers market in my front yard every Friday. Thank the garden gods...

There are two roads I can take from here. I can forever be a one-tomato-plant-in-a-pot kind of girl and never try to plant a garden again- solely relying on the talents of those around me, or, I can try again next year and probably fail, but be one lesson learned closer to the sun shining on my shoulders as I bend over and pluck my first successful cucumber from its leafy bed on the ground. I will be wearing a summer dress. I will be barefoot. I will use Preen.