Source: Someone Else’s Garden
I made a family once. I made a family out of seeds stolen from someone else’s garden , after all my flowers had died. When I was a young woman living in a hard *Winter of fear and surrounded by loss. I made a family from what and who was around me. The brave souls that reached for my hand through a wall of rubble and chaos. I planted those seeds of kindness and watched new roots take hold.
I adapted to it , to this new garden. I secured my place in it , protected it like a lioness. It was a work of art some days. Interesting , nuanced, rewarding. Some days, a bit of a disaster. But that is Real Life, isn’t it? Like living in an abstract painting . Complicated, imperfect, ugly sometimes , pretty sometimes, but always honest. It constantly looked different depending on the angle and the light. Like me.
I made another family once. From seeds stolen from someone else’s garden. I tended it as best I could. Sometimes my blood mixed with the soil. Sometimes my hands would ache from trying to keep Winter away . But Winter came . He took some of my flowers . But that’s why we bask in the beauty while we can. We revel in the bounty while we can. If we never had a Winter, would we ever appreciate the beauty of our gardens?
Ahhh. yes…. the *Unwed…rhymes with the *Undead ….like something to be feared. a perverse take on the term maybe. But if you close your eyes and use your imagination neither status sounds very warm and fuzzy. See what I mean?
And God knows I am not warm and fuzzy. I am a battle weary veteran of the unwed single mother wars. Compounded by being an adult orphan by the age of 24. I am pretty much made of barbed wire and scar tissue. I am hard to love.
Not as a friend. oh, my friends love me and I them . But as a partner ,I am unmanageable. Fierce ,yet childlike ,confident but neurotic. I am a choppy ocean full of contradictions. I am sure I am not the only one out there. Maybe someday there will be an Apocalypse and the only things left standing will be Keith Richards and a bunch of clever, cunning single moms.
Now before you get put off…..this is not a pity party ..”oh I had it so tough”. Nope. This is a literary hats off to my fellow brethren of the school of hard knocks. Any woman who stood alone on a gym floor on 8th grade parents night at a small town school. Fighting back tears of pride but also tides of guilt because you realize your child is the only player with “just a mom” out on the floor.
i remember the day I got the email that my son was accepted into a prestigious EXPENSIVE private University and had been awarded a 4 year Scholarship and grant that enabled him to have a terrific education at nearly a full ride. That day I won the unwed mother Lotto. Karma dealt me a winning hand , it still humbles me to remember the feeling of joy and relief and hope.
Not long ago ,while in the final days of one of my few but failed love affairs , my partner told me I was “difficult and blunt”. I suppose it is true on both counts. I have no excuses. I know the difference between being blunt or politically correct. I am an intelligent woman. But life is blunt. If life were a game of Tennis, I would be Serena Williams by now. I return every serve, every expectation of me , with as much force as I can muster. It has become instinct by now. Too many nights figuring out *How*…How to get by with no phone, how to pay to get a car fixed to go to work, make house payments , pay real estate taxes , how to scrape money together the Christmas after both my parents died to buy presents for my not quite 2 year old. The answer was keep working. Hard, as many jobs as I could ,as many years as I could and 25 years later I am still returning Lifes best serve with everything I have got, Blunt yes, difficult , sometimes. But the lessons I have learned from fear and loss and wisdoms I have gained give me a deep empathy and understanding of life on another level I honestly would not have had if my life had been easy, if my parents had lived to buffer me from the brutal realities and a fairytale prince had spirited me off to Boca Raton. You see I have my admirers and I have my detractors but I am trying to live up to the expectations I set for myself 25 years ago. Unwed doesn’t have to mean Welfare recipient and unwed does not have to mean your son ends up a thug, I achieved those goals , I survived the grueling 8th grade parent night, I survived the loss of my father and 9 months later I survived the whispers ,sneers and assumptions made about me at 23 when I walked into the bank with my pregnant belly to cash my paycheck. I survived 32 hours of labor with no drugs , 16 months after that I survived the loss of my mom. And again, I know I am not alone. I know people have it a million times worse. But the next time you meet a fierce, childlike , confident neurotic unwed single mother…. Don’t dismiss her for being difficult to love , she just needs a bit of care , she feels things deeply even if she doesn’t show it and she might just have the strength and skills needed to save your ass in an Apocalypse. 😉