Yesterday the sun rose and I did too. I got up, got dressed, brushed my teeth, and washed my face with my daughter's oatmeal-rose soap. I put on jeans that are two-sizes-too-big and a frumpy black sweater with an unraveling left arm...tied a blue silk bandana around my hair...and went to volunteer for Earth Day at boy-o's school. My mother met me there with a flat of vibrant petunias--she is smiling more these days. It was a crisp morning, classic Spring...and I milled about at first, unsure of what to do. I talked to my mom, watched the light coming through the newly-leaved branches. We got to work, planting flowers, and didn't talk again until she had to go to work and we said goodbye.
I stayed on to help out with not only boy-o's class, but the two who arrived after. Five minutes after my mother had gone, the "mommy-moms" once again confirmed for me that I am different than they are...somehow a wild flower, bursting open through a neatly coiffed collection of staked and trained topiaries, with their steady limbs and unyielding roots.
I was a ragged looking woman, younger than most of them by about six or seven years. I was composing lines of poetry in my head from the wise snippets of the children's conversations and digging in the soil without the cute starched gloves. I smiled at the other mom on the sidelines, a woman who spoke only to her daughter in quick-fire Korean and who waved inexplicably at me, almost in recognition. The construction-worker Dad said, "Hey", and so did I. Then, I laughed alongside a friendly guy with corn-rows, deep skin, and a dazzling smile laced with gold--at the antics of the squirming, vaulting, and wiggling five year olds. Did I seek out this PC, oddball version of reality? Did I go there with thoughts of being the wildchild mama? No. But, I am different anyway.
The "mommy-moms" all wore the same uniform--like they'd called one another and decided together...crinkly windbreaker, black pants, white sneakers. Add in that standard haircut (you know you've seen it), flashing diamond and gold wedding rings, with the few rebels in sunglasses. They all have a sexlessness about them--no matter the exact shape of the body. Nice women...oh, they are all nice. We all came to help out our children--an inherently nice thing to do. They all said hello...of course they did. They spend so much of their time doing "tablework" with their kids when they get home from school, instilling in them ideas about "citizenship" and "doing unto others". Of course they said hello to me.
But, then they clumped together like a blood clot endangering a major artery and chattered to one another in a way that lets you not-so-subtly know they are "friends" and you are "other". These started with money and government--well, the one ringleader did while the others nodded in agreement. This topic was interesting to me and unusual...but, when the ringleader noticed they only nodded and didn't speak she laughed,
"Oh, Jay was on a rant this morning on his way to New York for a convention!"
The others smiled, visibly relieved, "Oh..."
"Well he's right."
"Anyway," she said, shaking her highlighted blonde hair, "Can you believe it? I haven't scrapbooked for three weeks!" She gave a faux pout, like a child might and the other "mommies" chimed in like WWII vets with their own horror stories,
"Me? Month and a half."
Gasps all around.
"Two," confessed another.
One bold "mommy" proclaimed, "Six." and the blonde whipped out her Palm Pilot and said,
"Okay...I have next Thursday, anyone?" Out came a passel of Blackberries and cell phone schedulers.
"Seven o'clock," one said.
"My place," offered another.
"Done," said the ringleader.
Then, a new bunch of kids emerged from the buildings and the "mommies" each darted over to their respective offspring.
My son saw me and his eyes glowed in his small, sweet face. I sat with him around a tree with several other kids and talked with them, while they planted petunias, marigolds, impatients, and daisies. They plunged their hands into the compost, flung dirt, and ringed the tree with plants. Unlike the other mothers there, I quickly noticed, I let the children do it themselves...wherever they wanted to, in a great clash of color and jumbled spacing. The "mommies" took shovels from the kids' hands and dug for them.
"No, get me a pink one now," they smiled, "Let's keep the pattern."
Let's not, I whispered to myself. The tree-planting anarchists and I made a surreal Van Gogh landscape, laughing and getting completely filthy all the while.
Nature--a wild mother herself--has a way of blurring the artificially imposed boundaries of man and womankind. Next time I am at that school, I'm sure, it will be hard to tell the difference. But yesterday, by the school building, the plants marched in tidy, color-coordinated rows...the ones by the tree were a little bit crooked. And for once--this wildflower mother wouldn't have had it any other way.
Mamasaysom.com--theme this week, "Wild"