My gift to me: these flowers, and a minute to plant them.
It turns out that all I want for Mother’s Day is to be able to stroll the aisles at a home improvement store, casually scoping out solar lighting options and salvia varieties and replacement drill bits without anyone yelling at me to hurry up.
I remember, a few weeks after we moved into this house, noticing that our next-door neighbors – who initially appeared to be aliens from the Planet DIY but are now among our best friends – seemed to spend the bulk of their weekends puttering around their house and doing…stuff. It wasn’t clear to me what they were doing, exactly, but it seemed extremely labor-intensive. I mean, they own a wheelbarrow. And they use it. Frequently.
There were so many mornings when I watched them through the passenger window as we drove off on one day trip or another and thought how much it meant to me to get out and get away as often as possible. I couldn’t imagine what could be important enough to keep them right there where they lived.
And then I fell in love with our house, and now I get it: I am happy just staying still. I still love our day trips, but now they feel like what they are: trips. Just what we do sometimes not because we feel like we need to, but simply because it’s fun. The minutiae of home ownership, all of a sudden, feels like less of a chore than like a form of meditation: these plants in need of pruning, this doorknob in need of tightening, this wall in need of painting…all of it is our responsibility and no one else’s, and caring for these things feels as necessary and satisfying as caring for ourselves.
I spent yesterday afternoon sitting in a pile of black mulch in our park strip, hacking away at the earth with a spade and trying to find a relatively rock-free spot to plant a lavender bush. My son was busy earning 50 cents by ferrying rocks from our side yard towards the river-rock property divider we’re building with our neighbors, and my daughter was fast asleep in her bedroom, and for a couple of hours I wasn’t checking my phone, or missing my parents, or worrying about the state of our country. I was just gardening.
I read a Times article a couple of weeks ago about how people who grow up in the city and suddenly find themselves priced out experience a fairly extreme learning curve when they end up somewhere with actual lawns and laundry machines that don’t require quarters. It’s a learning curve that appears completely bizarre to people who have always lived in actual houses; I get that. But when we moved into our very first home – the one in Westchester – I didn’t have a whole lot of incentive to actually learn more than the basics. I did what I couldn’t avoid doing, let more things fall apart than I should have, and paid people money I didn’t really have to do things that, in retrospect, I could easily have done myself.
I have incentive now. I don’t *know* that this house is where we’ll be in ten years, but I don’t know it’s not, and so it’s worth it to me to put the time into figuring out how to make it run as smoothly as possible. How to make it pretty on a budget. How to fix what needs fixing without always calling in an expert. (I’m sure this goes without saying, but I ask my neighbors a lot of questions.)
So when Kendrick handed me my Mother’s Day coffee and asked what I wanted to do, the answer was easy: I wanted to putter around my house and do stuff.
Honestly, if Lowe’s had a bar and some sandwiches, I’d probably just call it a day and move in.
(I also ate a lot of hot dogs.)