We’ve been eating eggplant in everything this week.
It still amazes me that our garden is actually yielding edible, beautiful fresh produce. At twilight, when the house is quiet and still, children all tucked snugly under covers, I wander through the abundance and marvel at the magnificence of life. Lifting leaves, discovering smooth aubergine balls emerging as if by magic from the slender stems.
I wonder if I would be able to witness the cucumbers expanding before my eyes if I had either the patience or inclination, as each night yields a bounty that was seemingly invisible the evening before.
And then there are the failures. The snow peas that were carefully tended and bursting forth with tender pockets of bright green crunch… until brown began creeping up from the roots, gradually strangling life and leaving hollow husks that crackle in the wind.
Eli has begun ‘big boy’ Kinder. At first eagerly, rushing out of his bedroom in the morning, fully-dressed (including shoes!) and raring to go. For a kid who insists on living solely in undies no matter what the temperature, that is no small feat. It almost felt as if I were the child, as Eli confidently dragged me by the hand, looking for his name on the lockers, and then suggesting we just talk to the teacher when it failed to materialise.
As the parents were kindly ushered out by the teachers, all the while being reassured that our little ones would be well taken care of, I was reminded of the moment I left Hudson on the operating table out cold. Staring forlornly through the glass separating me from my boy, the one who has seldom left my side these four and a half years since making his entrance… it felt as if I’d left a piece of me beyond those doors.
He came home bursting with stories, beaming with pride and excitement. Which made the next session’s hysterical drop off all the more unsettling. Nevertheless, he recovered quickly and found his niche as the Teacher’s helper, and had the good fortune of making a friend that day. ‘We had good chats about life and people and food, Mum‘.
Sometimes I find parenting as elusive as tending a garden.
Feeding, watering, plucking weeds, nurturing, waiting, discovering, protecting. Sometimes to great success, as the fruit bursts forth unexpectedly. Sudden first steps, seemingly out of nowhere from our cheeky, blossoming girl. Snatches of wisdom internalised: ‘Dress ups go in the toy room‘, Eli says in a singsong voice to himself as he picks up the offending items and drops them off in the right zone. ‘No, Ivy, those toys don’t go outside!‘ Hudson declares passionately to his wayward sister. ‘I found my friend because she was playing by herself and had no one to play with‘, Eli confides as we lay in the dark sharing stories together. Sentiments I have declared repeatedly to the boys, often feeling as if the words would vanish into the air….water evaporating into mist even before it hits the scorched earth.
And then are the moments which are inexplicable. Textbook adherence to the ‘right’ things, and yet…. Outbursts that appear out of nowhere, right hooks to a brother’s face, heavy wooden doll houses carelessly yanked off shelves to plummet to a destructive death below.
The flame of anger blossoms quickly. Clenched fists, wave of heat, rigid stance. Perspective vanishes and I burst forth in fiery words. Though recently I have actually found an antidote to this landslide. I grit my teeth, pull out a pen and claw open the Gratitude Journal. The first entry is the hardest. ‘#168: For oxygen”… or on another occasion, unable to even get to that point: ‘#172: F%&^ING HELL’. I continue to scrawl until the writhing ball in my gut is a whisper.
I made the mistake of telling Eli my new practice. ‘You need to go and write in your book, Mum’, he tells me… often.
Gratitude. It’s the only thing left in my arsenal to deal with those moments, but it is surprisingly powerful.
My little plot reveals how little control I hold over the bounty that can blossom. And perhaps it is best that way. In hindsight I realise how little I do grasp- of the incredible lives forming before my eyes and what they truly need to flourish. It’s my job to keep lovingly tending them. And I’m learning to be OK with that.