Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mother As Gardener




Mother's Day is about children planting marigold seeds in disposable plastic picnic cups. And, in that, planting a deeper, symbolic meaning: Mothers, like sun and water and soil, help us grow.

I ask myself, Am I living up to this powerful metaphor? It's best not to ask yourself these kinds of questions for the bar for motherhood is set Renaissance painting Madonna high. Superhuman. Icon. It's designed to make you feel bad. Even if you have, as I have, cut up mounds of apples so that the school can meet its dietary requirements for healthier snacks.

Despite my efforts, I am always falling short of a Hallmark card mother, with fancy vellum overlay and lettered in sparkling script in glitter italics:  Dear Mother. I am not this mother.

I am a far dirtier mother. I have God-knows-what-crafts-project crud under my nails because this tending of the garden of raising children requires an apron, boots, tools, and a slops bucket. And a wheelbarrow. Has anyone who has used a gardening metaphor for motherhood actually gardened? It is backbreaking work. And 90% of it is weeding.

Of course, when something blooms, perfect, inexplicable as my daughter stealing the show, hamming it up recently in lower school choir or my son's papier mache eagle that earned an award? It's hard not to have unsurpassable pride.