Posted by: Mark Nielsen | May 13, 2007

Wives and Mothers: The Great Cultivators

 Marily Monroe rose
A Marilyn Monroe rose

My poor wife…

Surrounded by so much masculine energy, and at times stupidity. Last night our male dog Gato got Sue out of bed at 2am so he could eat grass. He’s standoffish, proud, occasionally muscular and interesting but generally sleepy and isolated… just like a human male, though maybe a bit more neurotic. I had put the dog out before I went to bed, so it’s not as if he was desperately holding his legs together to keep from peeing. He’s just spoiled, and didn’t care that it was 2am. And traditionally, Mom’s the one who spoils him– so you might say she made her own bed, so now it was her turn to get out of it and put him in the yard.

She spoils us all, I suppose. It’s what mothers do. All compassion and attention, and if they’re doing it right, plenty of rules and order as well. Women are the Great Civilizers. But their compassion always overrules the rules, therefore forgiveness for the inevitable eruptions of chaos comes naturally to most mothers. A good mother has a high tolerance for chaos, and can juggle many balls at once without dropping them all. She might drop one at times, or even several, but some intuitive and strong sense of priorities will enable her to catch the one ball that, at this particular moment, is most vulnerable and absolutely cannot be dropped, lest it break.

I gave my wife a soaker hose for Mother’s Day. I know what you’re thinking: “How exciting, Mark! What’s for Christmas, a stapler?” But in her case, the soaker hose is an acknowledgment of how much she enjoys gardening. She liked it okay, but she wasn’t over the moon about it. She’s pragmatic, but she’s still a woman, and there’s nothing beautiful or romantic about a hose. (Hey! Get your mind out of the gutter, people…)

Yet I’m no dope, despite being a hormonally challenged member of the masculine gender. So after I got the soaker hose, I made a separate trip this week to get her a live rose bush, and a bag of her favorite Twizzlers licorice. Candy and flowers, right? Can’t go wrong with those. So when she went out this morning to plant a few astilbe perennial flowers that have been waiting all week for her attention, she was surprised to see her new dark pink rose bush just outside the front door. “What beautiful roses!”, she said from the doorway. He shoots, he scores!

The goofball husband, the four-year-old boy, the dog: we’re all messy animals, a little wild, and therefore not entirely to be trusted. But the good news is that Mom, the great cultivator, is here to keep us in line. She cleans off our muddy paws. She brings a feminine energy to the family, the drive to beautify and organize and take care of the essentials. She plants the seeds, waters them, and waits hopefully, sometimes anxiously for them to grow. And we do…

So thanks, Sue. And thanks also, Mom. Your attentions have not gone to waste.


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