In less than a month, I’ll be 26. Closer to 30 than to 20. An adult with a job, grocery lists that include things like cat litter and spanikopita, bills to pay and a family that lives farther away than I ever thought possible. There are days when I wish I could curl up in my mother’s arms again and have her rock me to sleep. And I know there are days she wishes she could do the same.
On my recent trip home, my mom and I reenacted a photo taken of us shortly after she gave birth to me. We were sitting on the front steps of our house. It’s the same house my parents live in today. I love everything about these pictures. There’s a different car in the driveway now (my mom’s Big Fat Cow), a different tint in each photo, and different hair cuts (or in my case, hair where there once was none). A wonderland of flowers now frame the house where once there were just fledgling blooms. My mom was an inexperienced mother then, nervous no doubt. Now, she is an expert, an advisor, a co-pilot, a friend — she’s even a mother to nature (as evidenced below).
On my last day home, this fawn showed up in our backyard one morning. I’m sure the squirrels and birds and skunks and raccoons that my parents have been feeding for many years spread the word throughout the neighborhood that generous people live in the yellow house.
She lay in those leaves all day long, standing up occasionally on jello legs to munch on ferns. The mama deer came back for her baby later that afternoon. My mom pulled into the driveway after dropping me off at the airport to find them both standing there and watched as they trotted off together. I guess that’s what all good mothers have in common. They take wobbly legs and teach them how to sprint.
There’s something amazing about tending a garden. Watching plants grow (and knowing you haven’t killed them) is kind of an incredible feeling. Despite the drought here, I’ve kept my garden growing strong, and this week I noticed the first red tomatoes on the vine. I’ve been getting about one Juliet tomato every day this week. Not quite enough for a salad, but enough to pop in my mouth right after picking. I relish these little moments in life.
Forgive the quality of this shot. I was too excited to grab my real camera.
I’m still getting the hang of the gardening process. I used to watch my mom pull weeds in her garden as a kid. Now it’s my turn to pull weeds and tie plants to stakes to keep them from blowing over. My mom’s garden was, and continues to be, one of the prettiest on our street. Here’s a photo of it my dad sent me recently. We don’t get tulips like those here in Texas.
This Mother’s Day weekend, I’ll be far away from home. But I’ll tend my garden and think of my mother and all the flowers she has made grow strong and beautiful with the careful touch of her nurturing hand.
There are certain things about my mother that will always fill me with awe.
As a kid, I would marvel at how she could get all the leftover cookie batter off a spatula with a quick swipe of her finger. Not a drop would go to waste.
When I was little, I used to get out of bed a lot. A LOT. She never lost patience when I came traipsing down the stairs. She would parade me back up to bed and sit with me until I fell asleep. Sometimes she’d have to crawl out of my room on hands and knees so I wouldn’t wake up.
In the summer, she’d cart me to art class and swimming practice and orchestra rehearsal, tirelessly taxiing me around town. And during the school year, my lunches were always gourmet. I blame her for my current inability to eat a regular sandwich. She always managed to pack me lunches that made all the other kids jealous. She made vegetarian bologna (yes, it exists) look so good that carnivorous kids wanted to take my sandwiches. I had to shelter my leftover homemade pizza as though it was a member of the witness protection program.
She taught me how to rescue baby birds that had fallen during flight and resuscitate them with worms crushed in an eye dropper. Her compassion is endless.
And look how beautiful she is. I love this picture of her and my brothers.
And this one…
And this one, too. After just giving birth, her hair is flawless. I look a little like an alien, though. She still thought of me as a miracle despite this minor detail.
And I love this picture of us on the front porch.
And this one of us at Niagara Falls… Oh, and there’s the hat I lost.
Thanks for all you do, Mom. I love you. Happy Birthday!