after decades…relinquishing control…

We wives and moms metamorphose all our lives.Butterfly-Header

Sometimes we’re butterflies. Wowee!!! Look at me flutter…

MothsO18Most times, however…we’re just plain, ole moths. Hardworking, for sure. No time to flit around looking beautiful all day long. We save that for special occasions, which get fewer and farther along once the children start coming.

I can’t remember when I last felt like a butterfly. Come to think of it, I can’t remember what it was like to be twenty-something. Those days of short-shorts and string bikinis are all but forgotten. And yes! I did wear both. You’ll barf if you’re trying to imagine it, given what I look like now. So don’t try!

Over the last 29 years I’ve worn my moth-eaten wife and mother’s gray garb with happy determination. When I was younger I could do it all. At least I thought I could.

Multi-tasking was a given. Getting hubby off to work after a nourishing breakfast…seeing my daughter onto the bus headed for school…household chores…grocery shopping and other errands…yard work…classroom volunteering…chauffeuring my budding ballerina to dance classes…meals to make…laundry to do…bedtime stories with which to settle in.

Thank goodness hubby loved to play so he and our daughter could do their thing every chance they could. I never got over my childhood habit of…work before play. With 7 sisters to do most of the work around their house, my husband and his 4 brothers were “boys of leisure.” From what I saw when we were dating, they didn’t even make their beds…at least not my husband.

That’s not to minimize playtime, however. I was extremely glad my hubby liked playing with our daughter. Otherwise, that would’ve been one more thing on my “to do list.” And if that were the case, I’m sure it wouldn’t have felt like fun to my toddler if I clocked how much time I had to sit around playing games.

I even explained to the school counselor during kindergarten orientation how I would prefer my child have a teacher more akin to my husband than me. Would you believe I even teared up about it? I was adamant about not wanting someone geared toward the three R’s…reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic….and nothing else. My daughter would get enough of that kind of discipline at home…from me.

So over the years as a stay-at-home mom, I assumed control over an empire…my empire. Even when the “king” returned home to his “castle,” I was still in charge…on the quiet, of course. I feigned homage to my lord and liege.

We moms know who manipulates the strings behind this real life puppet show. Don’t we ladies?

For 45 years, even after we became empty-nesters…almost 11 years now, I ruled the roost. Although as this monarch aged the job was no longer a cinch. Not that it ever was. It’s just that I’m not as adept at  keeping all the balls in the air anymore. It’s more like I’m rolling the balls along a gravely path. And it’s getting gravelier every year. Trust me. One of these days it’s going to seem as though I’m rolling those balls straight uphill.

The last several years I rationalized my loss of get-up-and-go to doing quality work. Doing one or two tasks a day was just fine. At least that’s what I told myself. Meanwhile dust collected. I could no longer see my reflection in the wood floors. Not that I ever could. But they were better than they are now, that’s for sure. A few more days went by before I did the laundry. I bought more underwear to tide us over.

I could chalk it up to my having an under-active thyroid, which I learned about during a visit to a naturopath. Thankfully, that’s been resolved.

Working thyroid or not, getting old slowed me down. I can’t do half of what I use to do, more like a third, on my best days. And I sure as heck can’t move between the house and the yard without breaking a sweat. Don’t get me wrong, it was never a breeze. Just more doable. These days the weeds live in harmony with the flowers. That way, the jack rabbits…yeah, they’re no longer cute, little bunnies…can graze on something other than my prized plants, lovingly hand-picked and bought with hard-earned dinero.

So what’s my point?

Yesterday I decided to skip out on an appointment with the designer who was stopping by to discuss window coverings for our newly remodeled, downstairs master bedroom suite. After almost 3 months as project manager and all that entails…on top of my normal routine…on top of nursing our beloved dog who eventually passed, and a loving cat who almost died from some mystery ailment…and on top of 3 weeks in Nashville literally helping my daughter get back on her feet after back-to-back surgeries…my vintage locomotive of a body finally went kaput! My brain gave in and decided we should all take a mini vacation. So I did. I drove to Home Goods, a subsidiary of the retailer Marshalls, and left my house in the very capable hands of my recently semi-retired husband.

Going over what we’d decided to install on the windows, I opted out deciding I’d live with whatever technicalities the designer and my other half finalized. It felt really, really good to relinquish control. My husband could grill the designer on her credentials as far as the installation went. After all she doesn’t work for the manufacturer, so her information is second-hand. More than that, she had to prove to my husband that what she was selling was worth every penny of his money. She knew my aesthetics; she’d never dealt with his budgetary consciousness…first hand. I did. Convincing him to spend the money was a job in itself. Of course, I knew the right buttons to press. Like “It’ll only increase the resale value of our house.” That’s always a good one. Fastest way to get him to open up his checkbook. Not that he’s ever “fast on the draw,” just not “slow like molasses.”

butterfly-garden-4For a couple of hours I felt as though I was floating along on a cloud…free as a…butterfly. No worries. No cares other than looking at what was in front of me…a wall rack for the laundry room doubling as a gift-wrapping station…decorative waste baskets…a piece of art for the bedroom. When hubby joined me later I showed him what I had in my shopping cart. He pointed out things I’d not thought about which made me change my mind, returning some of the items to their shelves. Made me feel good too, having someone else make decisions, however small.

I felt so calm and refreshed that hubby and I wound up having a date night. We walked to nearby AJE restaurant, dining on Japanese food, a favorite of ours. Not having been to the movies in a while, we decided to stop at a nearby Regal Theatre to see The Avengers Age of Ultron. We both dozed off, unbeknownst to one another, near the beginning of the film. Hubby said he awoke and saw me asleep. We didn’t miss much, however, since most action films are primarily about the actors annihilating one another, or trying to at least. It was good not having to think about anything…except the good guys smashing the bad guys to smithereens.

Today I was back on the job. MothsO125As project manager I oversaw last minute details…where to hang mirrors, artwork, vintage pieces and chandeliers.

I never know how purchased items are going to look once in place. I have some idea, based upon pictures and customer reviews. However it isn’t until I see a piece in place will I know if it works as I imagined, or not. Take the massive metal chandelier I bought online to hang over the end of our king-sized bed. I thought it would hang 24″ low. Not until the electrician was up on a ladder, fixture in hand, did I learn that my gorgeous chandelier would block most of our view of the newly minted porcelain tile fireplace with gas insert, as we lay in bed. It was me and my woman’s intuition going up against the practical mindset of 3 men, including my husband and our contractor.

I’m delighted to admit…the men won! What got me over to their side? The electrician saying “If the chandelier isn’t hung as a flush mount, then the only other option is that it hangs 34″ from the ceiling. In that case, what you’ll be looking at while sitting in bed is the light glaring out at you from the chandelier.” That made total sense, so I relinquished control of that debate.

I think I’m going to like having the men in my life take back control…

…as long as i agree. 

………hugmamma. butterfly-world

A Butterfly Companion

…beautifully written…of cherished pets…and loved ones…and our insecurities…real or imagined…
………hugmamma.

rachelmankowitz

Butterfly flits around like a ladybug. I always think she should be wearing ballet slippers and a tutu, the way she twirls and flies. She is gossamer. Her wings are so ethereal that they are almost invisible. Almost.

My Butterfly My Butterfly

She doesn’t seem to be like any other dog I’ve known. I’m used to moody dogs, dogs with personality problems, dogs who use guilt to push me around, dogs who could be diagnosed using the DSM V. But Butterfly is a different. She poops and barks and begs for treats, yes, but she’s also untouchable in a way, so sweet as to be unreal.

"Gimme some sugar!" “Gimme some sugar!”

In a way her butterfly-ness is upsetting, because she is always a bit out of reach. Cricket will jump on me and curl up on my chest, or my hip, while I’m sleeping. She scratches me and shrieks in my ear. She is…

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“sun’s out!,” time to plant?

What a difference a day makes, even here in the Pacific Northwest! The sun’s rays are showering down on all the tree tops; glistening raindrops hanging ever so delicately from the twiggy branches of the apple tree. It feels like spring. Yet I have to remind myself that the calendar on the desk top reads January 19. No scurrying out to weed or plant bulbs. I did that when we first moved from the east coast 13 years ago.

Having left icy winters behind whose last dregs were not gone until Memorial Day, I was elated to find that here in the Seattle burbs my garden began to show signs of new birth in February. So I got outside and sloshed around in the mud, oft-times kneeling in it to pull out unwanted stuff, and replace them with finds I’d discovered at Molbak’s or Squawk Mountain Nursery.

I wallowed in early spring, in the sunshine, in the sweet smell of new growth. I loved the sun warmly beating against my bent back, as I toiled away in the dirt. I am my mother’s daughter, I’d think to myself. She left me her “green thumb,” and she’d be proud at my constant use of it, even when I lived in Redding, Connecticut.

Friends, neighbors, and passersby would often comment upon the lovely cottage garden that surrounded our small, Victorian farmhouse. I strived to outdo myself each year. But my loveliest memory is of the abundance of wildflowers which grew from a packet. I sprinkled its contents on either side of the walkway leading to our front porch. Never one for math, I overlooked the explanation that the seeds were to be spread over a larger area than where I’d chosen.

It seemed forever before the blooms all emerged. But as they filled in, overwhelming the space in which they grew, I was like a child experiencing nature’s glory for the first time. Every morning I’d bound out the front door, which slammed shut with a loud bang. I’d walk the path, oohing and aahing at the varieties, the colors, the scents. I couldn’t count the number of wildflowers peeking out from behind one another. I tried picking favorites but gave up, because en-masse they were all beautiful!

Soon the bees came calling. And the butterflies, tiny ones and Monarchs, began congregating in my garden. Nearby, robins and finches twittered and chirped in the massive, overhanging, rhododendron shrub. Being careful not to get stung by a busy bee, my husband, daughter and I would plop ourselves down on the porch steps or an outdoor bench. Gazing upon Mother Nature’s handiwork, we were enthralled by what she could do with one inexpensive, little packet of seeds.

Those among you who are gardeners, probably know the ending to my story. Yes, it didn’t take long, perhaps a few weeks, before happiness turned to sorrow. With the first heavy downpour, my glorious, little garden nearly drowned in the onslaught. Hardier flowers were able to lift their heads once more, but the more fragile were too frail to pick themselves up again. I tried for a time to help, leaning some against others for support, propping others up with twine and stakes. Before long I too gave in, digging up the whole mess, save for a few that didn’t “throw in the towel” like me.

I replanted with specimens that were tried and true. Though the results were lovely, they never recaptured that brief moment when our house and its front path looked as though Cinderella and her fairy godmothers lived there, or Snow White and the seven dwarfs, or Red Riding Hood’s grandmother.

Throughout the first decade of her life however, my daughter loved the first home she ever knew, and all the flowers that grew in its gardens. And so, while I could never replicate my cottage garden fantasy, I’ve continued to make my garden here my own. I try very hard to follow planting instructions, but I’m still inclined to want every plant that I fancy to have a home with me. Grumbling to dissuade me, my husband is usually won over, and moves plants to make room for a new neighbor, or two, or three.

But thank goodness my energy’s maxing out as the years pass, for my garden space is maturing as well, meaning that it’s maxed out too. Although there’s still that wild, unkempt patch of brush at the top right of our driveway. I Wonder what I can do there? Hmmm…

it never ends…nature’s beauty, i mean…hugmamma.

“moments” of unsurpassed beauty

I find great pleasure in gardening because I can work the soil and create my own special “magic,” by melding ground covers, vines, grasses, perennials, annuals, bulbs, shrubs and trees, according to their individual “personalities,” colors,  fragrances, and textures. My finished “masterpiece” may never be picture perfect, since it’s always a work in progress. But each “snapshot” captures a moment of breathtaking beauty.

I feel blest when nature graces my garden in the form of butterflies and birds, particularly the elusive hummingbird. I may see one or two through the growing season. So when a friend sent me the following, I was amazed. I’m certain you will be too…hugmamma.