Do What Your Mother Tells You

I think this is a little bit embarrassing, but my husband wants me to tell this story. He says people will resonate with it.

The picture you see above was painted and drawn on sopping wet watercolor paper. My oldest son, Heinz, and I were drawing companionably side by side, when my mother called.

“Did you water those beets yet?” She asked. “They were dry when I was there and I bet they’re completely dead by now.”

“Um, no.” I answered, truthfully, although she is far away and wouldn’t know if I hadn’t. But I don’t lie. “I haven’t.”

“Oh no. . .” She used that grieved sounding voice that really gets to me. “Please go do that. They really need it and I wanted those beets. I don’t have any beets at all this year. Go do that right now. Stop what you’re doing and go water them,” she commanded.

I laughed a little. “Mom, you can’t just call me up from 400 miles away and tell me what to do.”

She laughed too. “I know. And you will do whatever you want, no matter what I say anyway.”

It was true that I had told her that I would water them before she left last weekend. After the hail storm shredded everything in my garden last month, I felt discouraged about all the work I had put into it, which was now wasted. I decided to pout about it by ignoring it. Then it rained and rained, which sprouted every single weed seed in the world, right in my yard. I could hardly even approach my garden anymore for all the knee high ragweed plants everywhere.

“Mom, I’m painting. I’m drawing with Heinz. Besides, I have to wear a mask just to drive the kids to school, my allergies are so bad. I don’t even go outside anymore.”

She sounded a little bit sympathetic and we chatted about other things. She gave me some feedback on my painting. Then the sound cut off from her side. For a minute I thought she was being a good listener and I told her how much fun I was having with the ink on the wet paper. Then I realized what had happened and I hung up. After I took a picture of my progress to send to her, I put my mask and shoes on and went outside to approach my beleaguered garden with the hose.

I pulled weeds and sweated in the sun for a long time. Then I texted her back, “I watered the beets, Mom!” And she replied, “Thank you!”

Alan laughed a lot about this exchange of friendly resistance and then compliance. “It’s the dutiful daughter, doing what her mother says.”

It was good for me to get out there and confront my fears and see the devastated plants. They had grown back, many of them. I think I will go out and do a little more tomorrow.

Although I fantasize about pulling every weed in the yard, it would take several weeks to accomplish that… so I’ll start with just 10 minutes.

Pigweed, which I am allergic to.
Wasps and bees visit the multitude of wild sunflower plants.

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