I seem to remember (I say “seem to” because my memory is sometimes quite imaginative from when my kids were babies) people telling me – as I nursed one daughter, made peanut butter toast for the other and dreamed of a shower – that time would unfold with abundance for me in a few years. And I remember feeling like my baby orbit was already slow and breezy, as if I had cracked into a simpler pace. I know not everyone feels that way. I did.
It was the first time, since I lost my first tooth, that I wasn’t scrambling out the door with the sunrise to school or work. I was largely unflapped by mess and sleep schedules. I was so blissfully keyed into every gorgeous detail. Yes, there were HARD times but they were remedied by slow walks around the block while Ruby sucked on my collar bone and Margot counted sidewalk cracks.
Now, at 5 and 7, my kids play rock paper scissors to make their very own choices about who gets to sit on my right side when reading, who gets the flower bowl for oatmeal and who first gets alone time on the trampoline. Several times a day we hear it: rock paper scissors shoot! This system works well for them. They trust the process. It feels fair and they both win often enough to feel validated.
Life today is different than it was back then. It feels busier and I am constantly resisting the plethora of wonderful, alluring offerings to fill our time. I really dislike feeling spread thin and my kids dislike rushing from one activity to the next. It seems that in order to maintain the unstructured space we value, we have to be more and more intentional about it all. I cherish our slow walks to and from school. I like that we don’t have a tv. We gather around the table every night for dinner and try to take our time there. I have a strong desire to hold tight to these rituals and choices. Sometimes it is hard. I am human and motivated to be and do things and I can get sucked into the dizzying world of crammed hours.
I’ve been thinking about these words that I hear a lot lately: efficiency and productivity. And how it’s up to be to define these words for myself.
Efficient means preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource.
Productive means achieving or producing a significant amount or result.
This year is much like the last several: I grabbed a piece of my daughter’s least favorite color of construction paper and sketched out our plot. I wrote my ideas in pencil because those ideas will definitely get erased and rewritten when a friend gives me her extra pepper plants or the arugula bolts early or I decide I want to just plant tomatoes on top of tomatoes and then live in the tomato patch and be a crazy tomato lady for the rest of my days.
This is our third gardening season in this home and oh mama, I have big hopes this year. I know the sun’s path intimately. I unearth nests of fat worms with each shovel. I get lots of steady time in my plot while Ruby counts millipedes and Margot swings on the monkey bars until her palms ache.
I added a truckload of compost two weeks ago, folding the loamy espresso earth into the winter-compact soil. With each turning in, I could feel the dirt thanking me, promising me it will do its best to breath life into our seeds. The dirt and me, we have a solid partnership. But I feel like I am always working against a deficit: the dirt will always give me more than I can give it. This is where my kids come in, for I figure my greatest gift to the Mother is two humans who appreciate and advocate for the delicate world under our feet.
Peas are always the first thing to go in the ground. Usually the same week as spinach, lettuce and arugula. This year, in our zone 4, we sowed that batch in mid-March. The leafy greens were slow to come up because I kept assuming it would rain; I don’t usually need to water much this time of year. But this year, the heavy clouds roll in and linger. They feel like rain and smell like rain but they roll right out without dropping water. So I started watering regularly and sure enough, those tiny leaves exhaled right through the soil.
My husband’s grandpa Lewie always said potatoes need to be planted by Easter. We were a week late this year but I think it’ll be alright. I am giving more of my plot to potatoes than ever before, hoping those jolly tubers will last through the winter.
The girls each had a packet of their favorite seeds in their Easter baskets this year. For Ruby: Nantes carrots. For Margot: Bull’s Blood beets. We dropped the seeds in rows last month, my daughters eager to see if something Easter Bunny-magical happens in those rows. I’m pretty sure they will find evidence of magic wherever they choose to see it.
We have two new chicks on our little farm. Meet Clover Clove Biscuit and Lydia Butter. We might add just one more. Hands down, the most remarkable part of getting chicks is their relationship with Mabel. Mabel keeps watch over them, pets them and snuggles them. When the big chickens get all pecking-orderly, Mabel defends them. It has happened a few times where Mabel’s puppy paws are a little too heavy but, for the most part, we have been watching a pretty cool kinship form in our backyard.
I am trying my hardest to be present in this unusually warm and dry spring, without focus on the predicted gnarly fire season. I am feeling a strong pull to not wait to camp and hike and explore because we don’t know what comes next. But, truly, when do we ever?
rock paper scissors shoot!