Asparagus

He had spun me from what was left of my childhood, turning me toward the rich path of motherhood by his very existence. I made acquaintance with his wise, deep eyes and soft, wild hair. Together, we tried to figure out what to do.

It’s hard to make sense of things, to make them all fit together. I sometimes will the thoughts out of my head, yet they stay,…like souls of those who had come for a time and served a purpose before carrying on with their journeys. The beautiful girlfriend who sat with me to drink dandelion tea, a soulful college student who had come to work with my son, the once lost and found friend who faded again to memory…all have gone. I wonder if they ever turned to look back as they forged ahead.

The morning’s captive emotions burst from my youngest son’s six-year-old being.

“I got frustrated!” His voice broke and escalated as the car door closed. He lamented having had to write k’s and trace lined shapes for his kindergarten work.

I understand. K’s are hard.

By the time we pulled up to the farm, he was incensed. The unsuspecting baseball cleat in his path was kicked skyward as he entered the mud room. He dumped his backpack and headed to the couch, detouring long enough to turn over the kitchen stools to the familiar narrative:

“I hate you. You’re a piece of crap. You hate me.”

The dizzying harshness of his ever-changing moods has taken its toll, rippling forcefully through those that love him the hardest.

The seasons have cycled nearly thirty times. Through trials I have remained on the path, but it looks different now. Though it’s harder to know if I am still going in the right direction, the terrain along the way is wondrous, magnificent, and worthy of the detours.

Before the dawn, the grumbling, tiny voice beckoned for help. He was not in danger; he was merely done sleeping and just didn’t want to be alone. Ever. So, out we went to open the chickens, to visit the bees, and to see what magic awaited us in the garden.

He snapped a sturdy green shoot from the morning earth. He then announced that the fresh stalk smelled weird and bad.

“No offense, asparagus!” He retorted, almost apologetically, as he took a tiny bite with the few front teeth that he still had left.

“Huh. Pretty good,” he declared as he reached for my hand. He offered me the rest of the asparagus which I finished before we made it back to the sleepy farmhouse.

Can asparagus even be offended?

Before long, he had perhaps dropped a spoon or colored out of the lines. The demons came back.

“I have a worse life than you. Remember when I was over by the barn and I got glass stuck in my foot? Did you help me?” His voice slapped me with accusations. The sting was as real for me as it had been for him, so many times, for so many reasons…primal and beyond understanding.

Actually, I did get the glass out. What he knows in his memory, though, is the part that hurt. He remembers what was hard. Those emotions are the ones he calls up when something goes wrong.

It’s not always going to be like this. I hope that when the day is done, he will remember some of the good. I know I’m not going to forget. Asparagus is, after all pretty tasty.

Maybe we’re all just a stop along someone’s path.

Deep eyes wiser with time and hair tamed handsomely for the occasion, my firstborn child sat before his dissertation committee where he reviewed his research over a Zoom screen. The asparagus, which rises from mystery seemingly overnight, has nothing on this boy, this man, who so clearly defines my space on this earth as he moves through his.