When I was a little girl our yard was lined with forsythia bushes on one side and a large patch of pussy willows on the other. My sweet mama would gather some up in the doldrums of the coldest months and plop them in vases of water scattered about the house. Sometimes she would even include a few branches from the magnolia tree which was so kindly planted the day I was born. Within a few days these beauties would burst into bloom, reminding us that the sun would warm our backs once again.
It is funny to think that when she began doing this, when she was my age with two small babies of her own, she probably felt as lost as I do. Everyday I wonder if I am doing all this parenting stuff right. If I am perhaps screwing these two up so royally they will forever discuss their mother horizontally on a leather chaise lounge to an over payed doctor. Do I yell too much? Do I play with them enough? Do they get enough social interaction? I have the whole mommy guilt, worrying thing down pat.
These days there is a lot of information about exactly how you should parent. There is research done on research proving that every word you say, food you touch, diaper you use, school you choose (or don’t choose), clothing you adorn, show you watch, way they sleep… you name it… is just plain old wrong. Or right. Or both.
It is terribly overwhelming.
But somehow, these small memories of ritual from my youth give me a sense of normalcy that makes me believe its going to work out. I think of my mama, digging in the earth in our front lawn all those years ago. Knowing of roots and stems only from the houseplants she carried from apartment to apartment, and the tomatoes her father dutifully planted each year. Now, thirty years later, it is a legacy of a garden that draws visitors from afar, and for some reason this alone, comforts me.
Here I am deep in the south. This variety of magnolia I marveled at as a child is already past bloom and its only February. But that’s not all that will open in the coming weeks. We will see every hue of the rainbow. It seems I have endless choices of things to gather up and force into bloom indoors around here. So, I started with the pear tree. Its tiny white flowers look like they should be edible; like I should candy them and decorate a cake.
Isn’t that nice? Now quick go try it!
(PS- Don’t put the pussy willows into water, unless you want leaves. But they will remain soft fuzzy little rabbits feet for an indeterminable amount of time just kept in a dry vase.)