First Day of School

No Telling

Tomorrow is the first day of school for everyone in the No Telling household. I’ll meet my nervous freshman comp students for the first time and Em will be all over the same campus taking this and that as she feverishly works at getting that degree under her skinny belt.

Nothing new there.

What’s new is that tomorrow morning The Perfect Grandson will attend his very first day of daycare/preschool. He’s two years old, a charming rascal beloved by all, and has never been taken care of by anyone outside of our close family. Oh my.

You mamas out there know exactly what I’m talking about. Em’s already worked herself up into a pre-first-day state where she envisions the worst – choking hazards, split lips, crying jags – the whole shebang. Why, she’s even thrown herself past the immediate and well into the future. Soon, Mom, he’s going to be in kindergarten, and then high school and then some wench [sic] will take him away from me forever.

And she’s right. That’s exactly what will happen, but not tomorrow. My experienced motherhood tells me that she’ll drop him off in the morning and cry much harder than he will, because kids are funny like that. When class is over she’ll fly to the daycare to hug him more tightly than he’ll want or allow. He’ll show her around, punch his new friends affectionately, come home with a few new words and nasty habits.

That’s how it works. There are women all over the world dropping their womb-babies off with strangers for the first time. All that common umbilical cutting doesn’t make it less excruciating for a first time mama. It doesn’t get any better, I suspect, with the second or the third.

I will not be a part of the dropping off and picking up tomorrow. That’s Em’s moment and she has a right to the love and pain of it. My job will be to comfort a weeping daughter, to give her a solid place to lean when the ground starts slipping underneath. It’ll be all right.

I‘ll make sure to to schedule my own moment behind a locked office door, neatly timed so I come out looking fresh for class. And for my daughter, who will never know I’m not the rock she believes me to be.

Dirt Farming

No Telling

It’s that time of year again. I crave puttering and seedlings and faded pink canvas gloves and big straw hats. There’s nothing like the hot, green smell of tomato leaves after a storm, or the random geometry of climbing yard-long beans. I’m a Southern Grandmother and it’s my right to tend the garden.

But I don’t have one and it’s my own fault. I tried to simplify yard work by moving into a gardenless garden home where mysterious bands of young rogues sweep across the subdivision on riding mowers, slinging edgers and leaf blowers. Twice a week, the battalion tidies our postage-stamp yards. A plague of well-paid locusts. They do a good job, mind you, but a yard that can be manicured in half an hour is too small for a garden.

When I was a young mother with a strapping husband and big yard, I planted thick raised-bed gardens every summer. He fought the grass and bamboo, I nurtured seedlings, weeded, and staked. Later as a single mother, I turned to flowers and herbs. It was all I could manage in those busy years. Weekends when Em went to her father’s, I’d hit the plant stores. Putting rose bushes in the ground somehow helped the shock of childless weekends. It filled the empty places.

It occurs to me now I’ve unconsciously given myself less fertile ground to tend and maybe it’s a sign. The need to parent vegetables and blooms is still strong. But gardening is maternity and I suspect my own waning fertility has made choices without consulting me.

I don’t like the sound of that. I’m not ready.

So look out, Home Depot and Lowes. It’s Sunday and I plan to worship a little dirt. Grammy needs to plant even if it’s only a few tubs on a concrete patio.