Wednesday, June 29, 2011
As many of you know we've been toiling in our landscape hell for about a month now. I think it's my penance for rushing that old lady at King Soopers last Spring. This has been years in the planning, but usually we'd look out back while holding cups of coffee and say something like,
"We really need to do something about the yard."
"Yeah. It's horrid."
"It's beyond horrid."
"But if we start it..."
"...then we'll have to finish it. And we could..."
"ride our bikes instead and then go..."
"swimming with the girls. Or hiking. Then I guess we could do..."
"anything. I'd even play Candy Land for 5 hours straight instead of work on that."
"I'd rather take a shovel and hit myself on my bare pinky toe multiple times instead of work on that."
"Oh yeah? Well I'D ______________________", (fill in the blank with anything else heinous that you would rather do than landscape).
And that would pretty much be it. But 3 years at our house and we started to feel really silly. And I began to feel that deep down "farm-girl guilt" surface. My farm-girl guilt is worse, (I've been told) than Catholic guilt. Good thing I was raised Christian, otherwise it would be an unbearable combo. I get a pang of this all throughout my easy suburban day. You have neighbors within walking distance? You should feel guilty about that and bake them things simply because you can. You have a museum and zoo that you can take your kids to? You'd better go 3 x a week and fully maximize the educational possibilities when they are ages 1-5 and then once a week during the summers after that. You don't have to feed 100 plus baby calves before 7 a.m.? You'd better get up and CREATE chores. Any chore will do. You have a bike that didn't get ran over by the feed-truck twice? Well, you'd best get up at 4:30 a.m. to ride it. The list goes on and on. I like to think I'm passing a healthy dose of this guilt down to our first generation suburb girls, but it never seems enough. Making the bed seems to pale in comparison to oh, say, bailing a field of hay all night in tag-team shifts.
So I'm definitely THAT mom.
The one who says utterly annoying things like, "DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE? Do you know what WE did as kids? Do you know what GRANDPA did when he was a kid?" Even everyday tasks; like going to Target and passing the shoe aisle is a trap. One of the girls voiced that she liked those sparkly shoes and it prompted the tirade:
"Guess how many shoes Grandpa had as a kid. Guess!"
"Um, five?", one of the girls asked timidly.
And I shouted gleefully, "No! TWO! TWO PAIRS of shoes! One for church and funerals and one for work and school! We don't need any more shoooooooooooooooooooooooeeeeesssss!"
So. The farm-girl guilt was surfacing like a raging river over our nasty, useless backyard. It finally broke sometime around May. And now it's hit our house in the following steps.
1. Sprinkler system (a cruel joke of a phrase).
2. A lot of dirt to level our fun-house tilted yard.
3. 13 tons of rock.
4. 7 tons of pea-gravel.
We are currently half-way through step 4. One day into step 3, Aaron suggested we rent a bucket loader of some-sort which would load and haul the rock for us. Farm-girl Katie nearly flipped her John-Deered capped lid.
"Oh, I don't know. Because I like my back and want to keep it in TACT.""It builds character!!!!
"Do you NEED your character to be built? Besides. Your dad used a tractor."
"Yeah, but...but we still had to lift a bunch of things...that got hot in the summer and...they were heavy."
"I'm telling your Dad that you're against agricultural technology."
"But...but...sometimes it's good to do things the old fashioned way! I mean, won't it be nice for the girls to SEE us doing this and when we're done, we'll know that WE did it OURSELVES?"
"Well, I think I'm the one doing most of the 'old-fashionedness', so anytime you want to grab a shovel, go right ahead."
Ouch. But he was right. The first night I was overwhelmed and pretty much just busied myself planting things. But this was just the right insult to motivate my inner Rose (my mom's name--the ULTIMATE FARM WOMAN). By day 5 I was hauling like nobody's business. I was even RUNNING the wheelbarrow to and fro. Granted, this was because I had mistakenly told Aaron to have the NEXT order delivered by 2 p.m. that day and it was 1:45 and I still had 8 more wheelbarrow loads to haul, but that's beside the point.
My triceps and character are more than built. Aaron has declared that unless things drastically change, or "we are homeless and living on the railroad, I am never, ever going shovel any more 1 and 1/2 inch river rock" Amen, my honey.
But I have to say. I think it's been a good lesson for the girls. They've seen and done some serious WORK. FAMILY TEAM WORK. They've seen me nearly tip a full wheelbarrow over and Aaron dart across the yard to save it. They've witnessed us getting bruised, battered and sweaty and come out victorious. Once Bella even marveled, "I can't believe that some day I will be as strong as you, Mama," which was just so, so nice (especially since I was making odd grunting noises mixed with whimpers to get the wheelbarrow over the ramp). And BONUS!!! I've gotten really good at making smoothies and iced coffee at about 2 p.m. when we all want to just lay and lap up the garden hose.
And Aaron, at 10 p.m. the other night, when we had JUST quit, and we were trying to get the girls to bed said, "You know. I have a deeper understanding of your childhood. And your parents. I mean there's work to be done. And we are going to do it. It's not always butterflies and UNO."
Which was promptly interrupted by the girls shouting in unison down the steps, "DADDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! We're ready to REEEEEEE-AAAAAAAD!!!" followed by giggles and something being thrown down the steps.
"COMING!" Aaron put his open pitcher of water down that he'd been guzzling over the sink, turned and started toward the steps and added,"But I'll bet they were sure happy when you guys were old enough to put yourselves to bed".
The next afternoon, it started alllllll over again. The sounds of rock against shovel. When the mailman drove by and asked, "Are you crazy? It's 100 plus degrees! I took my sweaty cap off and shooed him with it, while maniacally shouting back, "Yes! I AM crazy! Why don't you just do your job?!?!?!?? And quit bringing us pool maintenance catalogs! Ha-Ha-HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" We were ready though. I had taken the leftover coffee from the day before and already frozen it as ice-cubes for just that purpose. So crazy. Yet, so smart.
Oh, and let me tell you what I'm working on for tonight:
Step 5. Teach kids to put themselves to bed.
Do you need a hat that will keep the crazy mama sweat out of your face for YOUR next farm-girl guilt inspired project?