Sunday, August 19, 2012

You're the Mom and I'm the Tid

Elinore Lucile 
 When I hear my friends talk about spending the day with their mom, or having coffee with her, or buying her the perfect gift, or having long heart to hearts, I lament the loss of my mother. She died in January 1990. We knew that she was weak and frail and probably didn’t have much time, but not that morning. Not that day. I was in my second semester of graduate school studying English literature, taking 3 classes and teaching 2 classes, a pretty heavy load for a stay-at-home mom who had been out of school for nearly 20 years. I went home for the few days to be with family and to bury mom then went right back to school, missing my mom, but too busy to mourn such a devastating loss. I still miss my mom today. I wouldn’t say that I am jealous of friends who still have their mothers, but I would be glad to have my mom, though she would be more than a 105 years old. Despite how long ago our mothers left us, we still miss them. We still have questions we wished we would have asked; we still could benefit from their wisdom, but they do live on as we pass on the lessons they taught us and they live on in the heritage and legacy that they left.

Our oldest daughter, Heather, has this wonderful little garden that she has created, including a small water feature with a waterfall. Hubby and I built ours in the courtyard, but it didn’t look natural like Heather’s. It looked just like what it was: a plastic waterfall with random rocks stacked trying to make it look natural, so I wanted Heather to help me redo the waterfall.
The water garden in the early spring. I liked it until I saw Heather's.
Our project began with a trip to Home Depot Saturday morning to buy the supplies for drip irrigation and compost and top soil to rebuild our waterfall. Next we went to the La Porte Avenue Nursery (I wrote about the nursery last fall) where we purchased all of the plant material.

We were mixing compost and top soil in the wheel barrel for the base of the water fall when Heather said, “I’ve always wanted to come home and work with my parents in the garden—do a project with them.”  It was at that moment that I realized that I was now the mom and Heather “the tid” was spending time with her mother just as I once did with my mother. I don't know why this epiphany came as such a surprise, for I am close with my daughters and while they both are a comfortable distance away, we do get do those mother/daughter things. I just suddenly got a whole perspective on the mother/daughter relationship.

I watched her hands move the soil,  press it into place, molding and shaping the new waterfall.
 When she was 4 years old, in a moment of post toddler bossiness she stood in front of me with her little hands her hips, looked up at me and in her bossy childhood way said to me “You’re the mom and I’m the tid.” She was scolding me about something, telling me that because I was the mom I was supposed to behave in some way. I am not sure I understood just what she meant at the moment and today 30 some years later I don’t remember.

Strong hands that understand the earth, kneading it, moving it.

Knowledgeable hands that work smoothly and quickly.

Now the general shape is there.

And feet to stomp the pvc plastic liner into place.

Strong hands to place the rocks, adjusting the soil underneath the liner to create just the right niche for the rock.

She adds foam to hold some rock and pea gravel in place.

Good stuff to keep materials in place.
Finishing touches: moving the rocks around and adding pea gravel for a more realistic, natural waterfall.

Next: The plant material. Mostly miniatures of native plants.

I as so impressed with Heather's knowledge about plants as she walked with the nursery lady choosing the plants by scientific name, understanding what they were and where they would be planted on the mound. 

She has learned to live with dirt under her fingernails and seems to prefer that to professionally manicured nails.

Final step: wetting everything down and giving the new plants a good drink.

At the end of the day we have a  more natural looking waterfall now with miniature plants that will grow and fill in creating what  I hope will be really beautiful next spring.
Heather and Jennifer

Today those hands understand the elements of the earth and how to blend the soil and the plants and the rocks to create beauty in the garden.

As a grown woman, a horticulturalist by profession, and a gardener by passion, she teaches me. Now she and her sister are the ones who get to have lunch with their mom, do little projects, and have the heart to hearts. And I think now I have a better understand of what it means to be the mom and for the them to be"the tids." Thanks for all of your hard work, Heather. And thank you Jen for helping find and fix the leak.

You can visit Heather's blog Fields of Heather where you can see the beautiful little garden that she has created in the cul-de sac.


  1. What a beautiful post. I understood your feelings about your mother, I still miss mine even though it is 15 years since she left us. She was a wonderful gardener and I learned so much from her.

  2. I was close to my mum being the baby. I am close to my daughter and see her a lot as I look after Harry 2 days a week as she is back at work part time.
    Your waterfall looks great and how lovely to have that every day to look at and know your daughter helped.
    Afraid my daughter doesn't have any interest in gardens except for sunbathing and for Harry to play in.

    I don't seem to have an email for you, so I have left a comment for you on my two recent blog posts.Jackie in Surrey UK.

  3. Oh Ann, what a precious time with your daughter. She's made an excellent job with the waterfall - I'll certainly be keeping a note of how she did it, as you know we too are altering our pond very soon, and the waterfall is certainly on the list for a make over.
    I speak to our daughter every day, but do not spend enough time together as she lives some distance away now. We both appreciate the time together now when we have the chance to share it. We potter together in each others garden when we meet - weather allowing!
    Hope your lovely plants thrive around the pond.
    Rose H

  4. Ann, What a beautiful post. You and I have discussed many a time, how we miss our mothers. My Mom's birthday was I was kind of melancholy all weekend.
    But you are blessed with a beautiful talented daughter. I treasure the projects I see that my Mom and I did together around my house or she will too.
    Your a lucky girl!

  5. What a great project! Many new wonderful memories created, to be sure.
    I love the old photos of your family. Cute!

  6. The pond she created is absolutely wonderful, one of the nicest I have ever seen. Your daughter is very talented.

    What great memories your family is creating now, and every time you look at the pond, you will remember them.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  7. Again such a beautiful post about your family! You describe it all so as it really is. I'm so lucky my mother is still there, she is 90 years old now and I also have 2 daughters and yes we are also very close, will not believe, my eldest daughter and I made a pond in her garden, but I came to help her and that's already 10 years ago.

  8. What a beautiful post Ann. I'm sorry your mom is no longer with you, I do have mine and I know she won't be with me much longer. I'm trying to make my last years with her special. It looks like you are doing that with your daughters. I just love your water garden.

  9. What a great project. It has turned out really well and will be a joy for years to come.

  10. Dear Ann,
    A lovely post. I too miss my Mom and love my daughter who lives way too far away.
    We have chats and visits and I treasure every minute.
    Your daughters are lovely just like their Mum!
    Enjoy your beautiful daughter garden/waterfall.

  11. Hi mom. I apologize for not getting on here sooner. I actually haven't been on the Internet much. Doing a lot of gardening getting ready for the photo shoot for work. I am sorry. I read this and had to shed a few tears. First for my grandma, then for doing a project for you and us doing it together and for not getting to spend enough time with you. Our time together is so precious. The waterfall is the least I can do for you after all you have done for me. Getting me to adult hood, college, helping with the children, my previous employer and life. Where would the world be without moms? I would build you a waterfall everyday. I love doing it and especially for you. Now, we just have to find the damn leaks!! Thank you for the log and the kind words.