Spring

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Above is an old photo of silver maple buds. This year I’m not well enough yet to capture much of early spring.

Spring is here, and I am a week and a half late in noticing its arrival. The weather this winter was warm overall with some sine wave oscillations into bitter cold. If not for these periodic arctic blasts, this winter would have seemed to be a long prodromal spring. The daffodils outside my front door were halfway out of the ground by February but have been wise to delay their blooming.

This morning after my husband left for work and my daughter boarded her school bus, I sat on the living room couch debating what I needed to accomplish today. My mind became knotted considering what I should do first, and I remembered that there is only one thing that I really need to do during this medical leave: get better. With that thought, I stretched out on the couch and let my concerns slip away. While I should not simply fester at this time, I’d be foolish to let mental to-do lists sully my recovery.

I will do what needs to be done in due time. Already I accomplish small tasks without much premeditation, as I did before my back surgery.

There was a minor eruption in this house a week after my surgery because I became aware that someone who shall remain unnamed was disinclined to help around the house due to the mistaken notion that my daughter would do such tasks for me until I was better able to do them myself. Yes, my daughter is 15 and not helpless, but I do not push her to help out much around the house aside from taking care of her own things.

I figured that my surgery did not translate into my daughter becoming a maid or a cook, so I’ve asked very little of her aside from what I usually expect. She will be young just once, and I’d rather hear her usual 20 eruptions of laughter a day over whatever she’s reading than see her cook dinner or mop a floor.

So I heard a complaint that I’d been remiss in failing to teach to do such things and that I should insist she do more. I responded that now is not the time for me to teach anyone to do anything. Now is the time for me to heal.

It’s not that I have not taught my daughter to be tidy or to fix herself a meal. The prospect of insisting that she do these things time and again exhausts me more than doing them myself.

I think that the business of living and the natural consequences of disorder will eventually make her self-sufficient in the domestic sphere, which is exactly what happened with me. No matter how much my mother made me do the dishes while I was growing up, I didn’t spontaneously do that task until I was on my own and the only one around who would do it.

As I close this post, I am recalling a passage from Austen’s Sense and Sensibility wherein practical Elinor complains that her younger sister Marianne needs to toughen up. I’ve thought of Colonel Brandon’s response many, many times as I’ve raised my daughter: “I knew a lady very like your sister – the same impulsive sweetness of temper – who was forced into, as you put it, a better acquaintance with the world. The result was only ruination and despair. Do not desire it, Miss Dashwood.”

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