Yep, yep.

May 10, 2022

Mother’s Day was Sunday. It’s kind of like my birthday because I know my family is going to be super nice to me that day just because. I feel greedy and selfish on my birthday, though, as if just being born entitles me to privilege each December 1. (It does, doesn’t it?) But Mother’s Day makes me sappy and sentimental and thankful, and I don’t take it for granted.

Things are changing for us. Grace moved into a townhome with Eli and they are setting up housekeeping for themselves and a nest for McBaby Butterbean. I had a short cry driving back to our house after the first day of their move. It’s barely 5 miles as the crow flies from our front door to theirs, and it’s nothing but happy and excitement in my heart. But I did cry just a little knowing she isn’t under our roof anymore.

Lauren is a junior in high school, and she has taken over the downstairs living quarters. The Grace Cave is now the Lauren Lair. It’s good for her to have a more private space with her own bathroom and her own living room near her bedroom. But I haven’t gotten used to her old bedroom across the hall from mine and Paul’s being empty. More changes ahead…we’ll move a baby crib in there and decorate just a little bit for when Baby comes over. But for now, Lauren is still under our roof and Grace’s and Eli’s Baby is on the way, so again, nothing but happy and excitement.

Last Mother’s Day I planted a new Gardenia bush and put up my hammock in my Garden of Dappled Light. This little garden is only a year old, so she still new enough that she isn’t completely sure how she’s gonna fill out and grow up. Her Ivy and Creeping Jenny and Ajuga are spreading nicely and making the garden look rustic and lived in. This year’s Mother’s Day offering was three evergreen Yuki Cherry Blossom bushes. I wanted more evergreen. The deciduous plants spend the fall and winter with bare limbs. The annuals just die off. And the bulbs retreat underground. Even as early as Mother’s Day, I knew I’d need something green and pretty and looking alive through the cold months to come.

My little Gardenia from last Mother’s Day is supposed to be evergreen, but I thought I lost her when the cold snap came last fall. She had 3 beautiful blooms early September, then one bloom just wilted alway as quickly as she appeared. That was right when Oh Emily ran away. Even though we still had some warmish days after that, she never really rallied or perked back up. I mean the Gardenia, and I mean Emily. I bedded the Gardenia down with mulch for winter hoping she would survive. I really didn’t have much hope when I checked on her in February. No green on my evergreen. She has slowly surprised me, though. Her branches haven’t reached toward the dappled sunlight, but she is sporting and sprouting some green leaves.

I realize how fortunate we were that we got Emily back so quickly when she ran away. She was mad as a hornet when the police found her, though. Even though she was home, in some ways she really wasn’t. It felt like we lost her even though she was back under our roof. My Gardenia almost didn’t survive the thought of losing Emily. Same, Gardenia. Same.

It was just so hard living with a bitchy, moody, belligerent 13 year old who didn’t want to be here with us. I didn’t know if I’d ever see any new green growth. My journey with getting Emily back has been different than Paul’s and Grace’s and Lauren’s, but we have all worked hard.

Those first days were exhausting, and felt futile and at the same time vitally important. But exhausting. I struggled knowing it was me who pissed her off and made her run. I grounded her a few days before and took away her phone and gave her consequences because she had lied to me. Me. I did it. It was hard to convince myself that I had handled it the way I should have. Emily was the one who didn’t handle it the right way. I parented. Emily ran. So days later, as we struggled to feel like a family, my neighbor, a fellow Mo3D (Mother of 3 Daughters), was such an encouragement. She reminded me by text that what we were doing with Emily, with our family, was so important. But I was exhausted and I was tired of doing important things. She responded back “yep, yep.”

She didn’t try to tell me everything was going to work out just fine. She didn’t know if it would. She didn’t shame me into being grateful for how lucky we were to have Emily back. She didn’t tell me to look at the bright side, or point out the silver lining, or hand me rose colored glasses. She just agreed and validated my exhaustion. “Yep, yep.” Not as confident as “hell yeah,” or as authoritative as “damn straight,” or as unhelpful as “you got that right.” Just a weary yep, yep. And I imagined I could hear and see her over text. She said the first one looking straight ahead, then a head bob, and the second one came as she closed her eyes for a long tired moment. That was the end of the text conversation. It’s all she needed to say and all I needed to hear.

Oh Emily wrote me a Mother’s Day letter. I’m starting to see the value of a layer of mulch when it gets cold. Sometimes the green comes back. Yep, yep.

Update…correction… Yuki Cherry Blossoms are not evergreen. Uugghh. Now I am on the hunt for elf mountain laurel to give me some green in the winter. But I still love the cherry blossoms.

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