No More Children

March 16, 2011

Yesterday was Eliza’s 18th birthday. Tony says I must stop saying “the kids” and say “adult children” instead.

Only three more days of this year in my garden. When the project started, a year seemed like such a long time to devote to writing. I worried that life and work and “other things” would get in the way. I worried that I wouldn’t finish it as well as I had started.

Well, it has gone by in a blink and I have kept with it the whole way through.

It’s much the same with my “adult children”. When they were born, it seems like the years until their adulthood stretched out, languid and long, the anticipation of a slow unspooling of hours and days and years. How does 18 years go by in a blink?

I worry here too – much more than I do about my garden. I worry about piercings (she mentioned something about her nose, but Tony suggested otherwise), but not much about tattoos. She is too aware of job possibilities and acting roles evaporating because of errant ink. I worry about her confidence, her independence, her fire and her trust in people. She is such a spirited child.

Oh, sorry. She is such a spirited adult.

Spring is in the air today. A week ago, I made suet, melting bacon grease, adding peanut butter and poring that mixture over bird seed in plastic cups, with string inside for hanging. I stuck them in the freezer to harden. A day or so ago, I put a cake out, tying it to the shepherd’s hook. Today, it is gone, completely disappeared. Somebody – probably a squirrel – has dragged it off and is now probably laying somewhere with a terrific bellyache from overindulging. I can imagine tiny glazed over eyes, a swollen tummy and a hazy smile on little squirrel lips.

I see daffodils under the pin oak, just starting to emerge in the crotch of the berm and the ground. There is bellflower coming up too, shiny and green with hints of red in the leaves. No geranium yet.

Around front, a cardinal is calling, bright and piercing. Neatnik Neighbor is out, absorbed in his lawn care already. In the grasses bed, I see tiny, scalloped leaves of mums, a tender pale green, starting their long journey to bloom.

A fly startles me and then settles on the brick. Spring is certainly approaching – insects are out. The raggedy tulips are coming up. These things are a marvel, a miracle and an astonishment. They were planted before we bought the house, buried in rock, surrounded by bushes. We moved all the rock, ripped out the old bushes, dumped in inches and inches of black dirt. The bulbs have probably been disturbed a dozen times over the years, sometimes dug right up, sometimes just sliced in half by a trowel. They still persist, each and every year. The sprouts come up in strange places, scattered with no pattern; one is smashed right against the crown of a hydrangea. The Damn Rabbits chew them but they continue to persevere. How incredibly heroic – right here in my front bed.

Daffodils are higher and higher, starting to form slender buds on stems. I put another cake of suet out, into the hands of our concrete sun. One of the milkweed pods has made it through the winter, still filled with seeds. What promise this holds! A chance at starting a brand new story – all over again. Like a garden, like a life – we can always start over again.

New stories are starting now for Eliza. These 18 years have just been the foundation. Her childhood may be over, but the real adventures begin now.  She is starting a brand new story today, and will start another again in the fall – and then again after that. There will be so many new stories throughout her life.

And I will still worry.


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