I had a neighbor once who had this beautifully manicured yard. I never could figure out why his was the first to green in spring and the last to go when the flakes began to fall. It was perfect. Mower stripes in a crisscrossed pattern. Never a weed. That color emerald that makes you sigh with love inside.
Mine had voles. Some weird cross between a mole and a ... I don't know what .. but they left ugly burn spots in my lawn. Newel made it his mission to clear the pestilence. I'd stifle a laugh when he'd come marching through my kitchen with a BB gun under one arm and a bagged critter headed to the garage trash like a proud nine year old.
He was outnumbered. Those dead spots presented with trails between them and the destruction worsened.
We set out rat poisoning in our stacked rock wall ... until one day, our only little boy at the time waltzed in from the yard with blue teeth from some "yucky tic tacs" he'd found.
I glared across the street, certain that neighbor held the key of all keys to landscape aesthetics.
On a walk one day, I passed by with my stroller and he was out watering. We exchanged greetings and I had to ask his secret.
He laughed and took me right over to see patches of burned grass, trails, and bald earth of his own. From a distance, it just seemed his challenges were less, different, or non-existent.
As a young mother with children clinging to my legs, I thought mothers laughing with their teenage children who responded to "reason" .. had it made. As a mother of unreasonable teenage children, I look at empty nest mothers and think their singular responsibilities must be a cake walk ... until I hear about the heartache of worry for adult children, grandchildren and the difficulties of caring for an aging parent from my own mother.
The grass always looks greener, I suppose, and that's not meant to be depressing.
The simple truth is ... every stage is hard.
My mother shared a personal experience in raising a teenage boy once. He was in a wrong place at a wrong time and called her for help. She instantly hit her knees in prayer then grabbed her car keys running. She said her heart pleaded out to heaven for an answer, any answer, but her mind screamed louder still, "Why can't this be easier!!!"
Driving along, she said clear as if a voice spoke cutting through the noise of her brain, she heard, "If I'd made it easy would you try so hard."
She felt the heat of the refiners fire.
As a mother, my grass hasn't felt so green lately. Burn spots have been cropping up. And instead of one burn spot to fret over at a time, the trails seem to run between seven of them. The more I shoot the voles, the more I feel outnumbered. I marveled last night at a time when I'd burst into tears over trying to prepare a simple dinner for a husband heading home from a hard day of work as a whiny toddler weighed on my leg and an infant bawled his colicky lungs out from a baby seat.
Boo boos were fixed with bandaids and bedtime stories ... and an occasional trip to the ER ;) ... But I still felt it was hard.
The ones I try to fix nowadays are hard too, only different ... and influential .. and character building.
And, there are things about this stage of life that are easier than those were then, too.
But, as my brain swirls and whirls, wishing for the grass to be greener. Maybe even looking across the way wondering why there aren't holes in someone else's yard. Or even hoping that in the future of motherhood there may be a stage that just doesn't have quite so many holes in it ... I hear a voice that says, "If I made it easy would you try so hard?"
Which brings me to my grateful knees for guidance as a gardener of no great measure.