It starts with a typical series of scenarios. We are raised in some sort of established family. We have a home, parents, a room that we either share or we call our own. There are traditions, such as dinners around a table, weekend sports or adventures, evenings playing basket ball with the neighbor kids. These are things that are everyday to us, and it is no secret that we will eventually reach an age where that will no longer be the case, and we are excited for it. Excited to escape our mundane routines and explore the world. Our twenties hit and we hit the streets, perhaps we wander Europe, a college campus, or endeavor in whatever nightlife intrigues us. For some of us this day of independence and a lack of establishment may start much younger, striving to hold down a job to maintain a one bedroom apartment. But whatever the journey, we all eventually arrive to become what some may refer to as an “island”.
Somehow although we knew our own roaring twenties were to come, for some reason it is not as clear that the thirties are inevitable to follow. We live bouncing place to place, no need for grounding, no need for establishment in our lives. We have kids, but nothing is permanent. We rent a home, we plant trees in planters, we spend our days off in spit up covered pajamas. Slowly things fall into place, you purchase a mini van here, buy a house there, sign the kids up for athletics; but you may still assume you are going with the flow, until the epiphany happens.
It’s ten at night, the kids are watching Little Mermaid in the back of the van on the trip home form DisneyWorld. You pull up to a gas station in greater Atlanta, and you wonder to yourself, what type of neighborhood is this? You see two girls outside screaming, and the maternal instinct kicks in. You hesitantly leave your husband to pump the gas as you investigate the interior. College kids stand in lines, cases of beer in each hand, or perhaps a handful of snacks and munchies. “Aw,” a sigh of relief, “my people.” You turn outside in pride, but then see a minivan, your husband filling the tank, and two kids in the back, you reach down to your building belly…”when did this happen? When were these no longer my people? When did I become the lame out of touch mom with a family and a minivan?”
Or perhaps you head out to the garden boxes in the backyard to plant your strawberries and onions your first sunny Saturday in March. The tomato trellises still have the decaying vines from last summer, and the soil is covered by the remaining leaves of fall. As you reveal the unearthed dirt, gently peeling back the crisp, crackling leaves, you find the strawberry blooms from last year have returned and covered the ground with sprouts of onions towering and scattered about the box. You’re a gardner, you’ve lived somewhere long enough to witness the regrowth of a dormant seed, you’re in your home.
There is much laughter and cheer as you are balancing one babe on your hip and pushing the other on the swing. Your daughter pointing to a cloud, that looks like a “puppy Pluto”, you look and catch site of rust starting to peek out from the screws of the unanchored metal swing set that was bought because we still hadn’t left that mindset of “temporary”. There is a moment of comfort in the blight of this swing set. Nostalgia sets in, recalling childhood, climbing amongst the oxidizing screws of your own play set as a child. You glance up at your home, the neighborhood. There is a sensation that warms your soul, a sense of comfort and pride as you finally accept, I am a matriarch, I have a family, we are finally established.
Or is this just me?