"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mommy, Heal Thyself

Sometimes, life is just too much and I'm kind of blowing steam out my ears and afraid someone will talk to me at which point I will either explode or burst into tears...not that anything super horrible is happening.  I just need a little time in a safe place sometimes, a little hope and a little healing and some way to create some extra buffer space and margin for myself.
Image by tkw954 via Flickr
Historically, the woods where I grew up was my "safe place" where I went to recover and breathe again. There was a bottomless sort of solid freshness to the feel of a mound of moss under my fingers or the tinkling run of the crick at the bottom of our little valley.
Country Road
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Once I no longer lived in a woods I had to extemporize. I would escape the pressure of campus relationship dramas, my roomate's eating disorders and the endless industrial pavement of the city and drive my little clunker around in aimless wandering spirals on little country roads north of town and south of town and east of town, wherever the sidewalks ended and the farmstands began. I'd roll the windows down and play loud music and sometimes stop to sit in a roadside ditch just to listen to the crickets sing around me.

Panera Bread
Image via Wikipedia
Then once I was married life got a little busier and I couldn't always dash off to drive off my worries but I discovered a greenhouse in town not far from where I worked and sometimes when a rough shift ended on a cold winter night, I'd stop at the greenhouse and dawdle my way through every single row and table, reading the names of different epiphytes and orchids, playing in the water the the table-top fountains they sold burbled and petting the ubiquitous greenhouse kitties. I don't know if it was the sound of moving water, the smell of growing things, the green haze in the air or the purring nudge of the resident cats but it always worked. I'd go back to my car feeling like I could walk again, like I wouldn't cry after all and like there was a reason to live.

Lemons as big as your head!
Maybe you think I'm crazy and shallow and even selfish, but that's how it works with me. The one last place that has been a haven in tough times (don't laugh!) is Panera Bread. Somehow everything is alright again when I am snuggled own in a warm booth, watching the fireplace flicker with a mug of coca as big as my head between my hands. I think I can thank my sister-in-law, Jane for introducing me to this particular form of healing. We spent many a chatty afternoon back in my college and post-college Michigan days noshing in the comforting glow of Panera after they built one right down the road from her house. Now Panera makes think of all those who love me and slow conversation and laughter and good times and there's also something very boosting as the perennial mommy-person who takes care of everyone else, in having someone else make me lunch and bring it to me on a platter (special perk of appearing at the counter with your arms full of babies) even if "someone else" is a guy named Jose who doesn't know me from Adam is being paid by someone else to make my lunch. Still. I'll take it. And it does come with a fireplace and a mug of cocoa the size of my head.

Giant green leaves. :)

Today I took the boys to Panera. (They pretty much always have to come along whenever mommy needs some healing.) I've discovered that Panera makes pb&j perfectly and that they serve these exciting little yogurt-in-a-tube snacks that Mommy never buys which are thrilling to my sons. We had lunch together, watched all the other people eating lunch and talked about them, snuggled up to the fireplace, and then bought a gingerbread man to split over our cocoa. Life was better.
The beautiful herb wreaths they were making while we were there today, all sage and bay and thyme etc. They smelled amazing.

Nib, wandering the aisles.
And then I remembered that there was a greenhouse I'd heard a rumor about that I'd been meaning to visit for some time...so we gps'd it and drove ourselves right over. There are actually about four greenhouses, a special one just for herbs, one with an amazing, lush lemon tree and one with an indoor farmer's market once a week (today, just by chance!). There are kitties curled up snoozing on the top of plant racks, there is that moist green smell that all greenhouses have and there are little corners where nobody is and you can just let your boys sit down on the ground and run the pea gravel through their fingers while you smell flowers and meander around fingering tags. The doors on each house close so there's no serious losing of the toddler and it turns out my boys light up just as much as I do when they walk into a greenhouse. We all left ready to come back again soon. I think I just found my safe place. If you need a little solace yourself and you happen to be in the area, this particular greenhouse is called Gilbertie's Herb Garden. So, I'm feeling better now, and our house is one jasmine plant and a few herbs richer and we have a place to run when the needle is on E.
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