There is a story I’ve often heard about our great aunt Ola Mae. One day my mother was sitting at the kitchen table with her, and Ola Mae had just finished mopping the floor, when Uncle Tom, her husband, came walking right through the house wearing his dirty boots, leaving a trail behind him. Mama waited for Ola Mae to say something, but she didn’t.
“Doesn’t that make you mad?” she finally asked and Ola Mae said:
“Those same boots that bring the dirt in, they bring him in too.”
It is a special memory because we don’t exactly have a long line of sweet-tongued women in our family. I remember it this morning, as I look around my little house, at the many trails left behind. The baby is asleep on the couch, laying in the filtered sunlight coming through the window. She has been sick and I’m glad to see her sleeping so well, little arms raised over her head. The puppy is asleep in front of the fire, content, having finally chewed the laces off a boot he’s been after for some time. It was my idea to get the puppy. My husband could remind me of this everyday, but mercifully, he does not. He himself is full of wild ideas, and at the moment he is trapping beavers.
I had the ambition to write more, and to commit myself so that I’d have to do it, but the month has gone by, and more pressing work has come and found me every day. I thought of closing this part of my life entirely, but I imagine words and stories will come again to me, and it’s good to have some place to put them.
I remember that last year, in the newborn days, I said to Mama, comforting myself, that motherhood would get easier in time.
“No, it’ll get easier as you do it,” she said, “and sometimes, not even then.”
Mothering and writing are alike, I’ve found, and they are both like gardening… and gardening, well, it’s like all of life, isn’t it? With gardening, the essential thing is not so much to accumulate expertise, as to continue on in doing it. We do not become better and better gardeners. We are gardeners, and that is enough, for to keep the earth is to reckon every day with being yet so far away from heaven, and so the most important thing is to not lose heart.