Saturday, April 18, 2009

Yard Work and Tears

The problem with being a wife who stays at home, alone, with a young child, is that when duty calls she has to somehow balance doing that duty and taking care of a baby.

Some women excel at this.

I suck at it.

There is a pile of leaves that has accumulated on the driveway on the north side of the house. From melting snow, rain and the freeze, thaw, freeze of early Iowa spring, they have somewhat glued themselves in place.

I got inspired to unglue them!

I thought of everything.

First, I fed the baby so he wouldn't get hungry in the middle of my work. Then, I took his play-saucer outside and set it up on the driveway, in the shade so he could play and still keep an eye on Mommy.

Next, I set out the rake, trash bags and broom so that I wouldn't have to go inside and leave my son alone in the middle of the driveway.

Finally, I pulled back my hair, put on my work shoes, dressed my son in a sweater and took him outside.

Settling him down in his play saucer I tinkered with him for a few minutes enjoying his laughs and coos and giggles.

Having established that he was quite happy I picked up the rake and started in on the leaves.

The moment the rake hit cement the siren sounded. And when I say siren I mean I heard that slow, startled screech that is my son's most violent cry, reserved only for the times when he is scared out of his mind. And a 4-month-old's mind is easily scared.

I turned to see him clinging to his teething keys, face distorted in the most preciously devastating scowl on the earth, tears already forming and falling down his cheeks.

The noise had frightened him.

I rushed to him and scooped him out of his saucer and he clung to me for comfort. A few soothing words, some pats to the back, a couple dozen kisses and at least six good hugs and my boy was smiling again but it was clear that the raking was over before it even really began.

Instead, we sat on the driveway and I let him touch the rake and the leaves, the grass, the buds on the bushes in the front yard, the fence in the back yard.

I explained that leaves grow on trees and in the fall the leaves fall off of the trees and we have to pick them up to keep our yards looking pretty.

I never did finish raking up the leaves in the driveway. The rake, broom, bags and even the play saucer are still out there.

In the grand scheme of things, I'd rather watch my son discover the world than rake anyway.

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