Slogging Through the Sludge of Life

Saturday I did my annual planting.  We live in a condo with a postage stamp sized front yard and lots of hosta.  No fuss, no muss.  Hosta fulfills my housewife mantra:  minimum imput, maximum output.  Hosta shows that you care, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time caring, except it looks like you care a lot.  Perfect.

So while I don’t really have to worry about the yard, I do have to actually think about my planters.  I have sixteen feet of containers to fill along my deck. The deck is right outside our dining room, so it features prominently in our home.  There is nothing more depressing than empty planters in July.  That’s not true.  Empty planters with last year’s dead plants would be worse.

So every year I plant.

Here’s the breakdown:  I like to shop for plants.  I like to design where they will go, and yes, what the theme of the planting season will be:  botanical, traditional, grassy.  Yes, I have planting themes.  Shut up.  I like to water them right after planting.  Job well done, and all.  I don’t like to do the actual planting.  It’s a little like torture.  More accurately, it’s like work.  Ugh.  I work enough, right?  Do I really want to make more work for myself?  NO.  Work defies that already stated housewife mantra:  minimum imput, maximum output.

This year was no exception.  The family went together to the nursery.  Mary Tyler Son behaved beautifully, fascinated by the sensitive plant.  Little Scientist in the making, that one.  We were back home by ten and unloaded the plants and soil.  Mary Tyler Dad took the little one to the park to give me some time to plant.  Hooray!  Yeah, not so much.

All those plants and soil and empty planters overwhelmed me.  I puttered a little, but within minutes I was sitting inside watching The Real World San Diego.  Ugh.  Insufferable, self-righteous, ignorant youth were somehow more palatable than planting.

I gave it another shot after one episode.  I brought music with me this time. It annoyed the neighbors two floors up, which thrilled me, as those neighbors are really annoying.  This time I had more fun dancing than planting.  I mean, how can you not have the moves like Jagger when you’re holding a trowel? And all apologies to the new next door neighbors whose dining room looks onto our deck.  My only hope is that when you look upon the lovely plants you aren’t scarred by the memory of me getting my groove on in a really unfortunate way.

I retreated back inside for more Real World, as my real world was too much for me in that instant.  It struck me that planting reminds me of the changing of the seasons, the passing of time.  This is three plantings since Donna died.  Seasons are how I often mark how long it has been since Donna left us.

Something about planting those plants was making me want to hide under the blankets, drowning my sorrow in Coke and chocolate.  A task that should have taken two hours ended up taking nine.  Nine hours to plant six containers.  Pathetic.

This is life in grief.  Not every day, but on some days, every single thing I do is work.  Showering = work.  Dressing = work.  Deciding what to eat for lunch = work.  Going to the bathroom = work.  Changing into pajamas = work.  It is so much easier to watch others struggle with their lives rather than struggle with my own.  The Real World and Real Housewives franchises were made for grieving mothers.

But what kind of life is that?

Not a good one.  Not a pleasant one.  Not a joyful one.

So I got my a$$ in line and planted those plants.  Mary Tyler Dad is patient with me.  He gives me the time and space I need.  The cost benefit ratio is an easy one.  Nine hours of slogging misery against four full months of light and life.  I look out my bedroom window and see life and growth.  I walk through the dining room and see color and hope.  Ugh.  I wish it weren’t so damn hard to get there, but it is.

Part of why I do what I do, plant those plants, and make those efforts is because of Mary Tyler Son.  He deserves no less than Donna.  He is no less worthy of a mom who does whatever she can to bring wonder and joy into his life.  He is a powerful motivator, my little one.  I refuse to let him grow up with an absent, depressed mother.  Some days I need more time to get it together, but I do get it together.

Grief sucks.  Just like cancer.  But just as cancer did not prevent me from mothering, grief is not going to get the best of me either.  I will plant those plants, and cook those meals, and fold that laundry.  I will fly that kite, and splash in that pool, and bake those cookies.

I am Grieving Mother, hear me roar.

Potty Training for Mommy

Let me apologize in advance for the blatant use of TMI to create this post.  After last night’s meet-up with fellow mommy bloggers, I knew these words had to be written, that I had an obligation to mothers everywhere, and to share I must.  Forgive me my incontinence. 

A couple few weeks ago we were invited to a birthday party for a newly minted six year old super hero.  This kid rules, as does his mom.  It was held at a gymnastics center in rural Wisconsin and featured seven of the most amazing homemade cakes I have ever eaten:  Ho Ho Cake, Oreo Cake, Snickers Cake.  I am not joking – – it was snacktacular, as only can be done in rural Wisconsin. 

The party had a superhero theme as the birthday boy, a cancer survivor (take that, bastard cancer), is as close to a superhero most of us will ever meet.  Kids were provided with capes and masks upon entering and a cadre of game middle aged men dressed as heroes and villains ran around this gymnastic center for a couple of hours while a zillion kids ran after them.  It was the best.  Poor Mary Tyler Son was freaked out by the villains, though, so Mr. Mary Tyler Mom and I kind of kept to ourselves to give the poor kid some space.

That’s when I saw it:  the twin built in trampolines.  Who knew these things even existed.  Not I.  I strolled over, trying to wait patiently for the kids to have their turn and finally got my chance.  I jumped on it – – literally and figuratively.  I jumped and I learned.  Trampolines are fun.  Capital “F” Fun.  Seriously fun.  I jumped and I jumped and I jumped.  I giggled and jumped some more.  And then I jumped again.

And then it hit me.  I felt a little damp.  Down there.  Yes, that down there.  So what did I do?  I jumped again.  Jumping on a built-in trampoline is freaking Fun.  I jumped and giggled and finally moved so the pushy two year old girl could take a turn.  She didn’t even jump, she just kind of walked around on it.  But while I waited for her to finish I wondered aloud to Mr. Mary Tyler Mom why I was the only adult jumping.  His response?  “Because they’re moms.  They leak.” 

What’s this?  Why does he know this and I don’t know this?  Yes, it was in fact leaking that had been happening down there.  I tried to ignore it.  In the end, despite the joy and freedom and weightlessness the trampoline provided, I thought it best to find a bathroom.  Thank goodness for dark rinse skinny jeans.  I had wet myself.  Right down to my knees.  That little old pad I had on was no match for the gallon of pee that must have escaped my over-taxed pelvic muscles.  Worthless freaking muscles, those are.

Why don’t they teach us about incontinence?  Why don’t we talk about this, moms?  “Hi, my name is Mary Tyler Mom and I leak.”  “Hi, Mary Tyler Mom.”  I mean the first step is admitting there is a problem, right.  My problem is that I leak on trampolines.  I did the best I could, removed the offending pad, cleansed if you will, and made the best of it.  Apparently rural Wisconsin does amazing cakes, but they don’t do sanitary pads.  Couldn’t find one anywhere.  Anywhere.  Seriously, we left the party and had to drive to the Target about 20 minutes away. 

So now you know that I leak.  At least on trampolines.  But you know what?  I would so do it again.  Trampolines rule.  Next time, at the seventh birthday party, Imma come prepared with industrial strength pads.  Imma jump on that trampoline again.  And again.  And again.  Ladies, we gotta jump on those trampolines, cause life is too damn short.  Are you with me?