The last dandelion handed to me by my son.
The leaves are wilted. The stem leaks sticky, white goo that I know will attract even more dirt to the natural dirt magnet that is a little ones hand. The tiny mum-like flower is barely still attached to the stem. It’s had a long journey across the backyard, held tightly in a tiny fist excited to gift it to me and afraid to drop it.
I pickeded you a flower, mom!
The joy in his voice and the smile on his face tells me two things: 1) he is holding a treasure. And 2) the treasure is for me.
Over my 26 years as a mother, this scene has been repeated enough that they meld together as one precious memory.
Some days, the mud was ill timed and I half heartedly recieved the gift. I was more concerned about getting those nails clipped and the hands cleaned up before some long forgotten errand, appointment or event. Funny, how important that seemed at the time.
Some days, I whole heartedly accepted the treasured offering and put it in a tiny bud vase. I always placed it right above the kitchen sink, where I often need to be reminded that I am loved and appreciated.
My youngest is nearly fourteen, and I have a confession: I do not remember my last dandelion treasure. The case too often sits empty on my windowsill.
I wish I had known it would be the last. I would have put it in a Waterford crystal vase. I’d have carefully pressed it and framed it, preferably along with a smudgey dirty little handprint.
But that’s not how mothering works. Time passes and suddenly the last diaper is changed and you didn’t even know it. Time passes and the boy you carried on your hip becomes the man you have to wear heels to look in the eye.
And one day- you recieve your last dandelion. And you don’t even know it.
I know, I know. I sound like those old ladies at the grocery store who told me to enjoy these days. In truth- I always fantasized about slipping a poopy diaper into their back seats do they could savor a little of my joy. I know, mothering is hard. Mothering is messy. Let’s face it- a muddy fist full of dandelion isn’t convenient on the way to Easter dinner. I’ve been there. I know. I’ve angrily scrubbed little paws, annoyed we were going to be late, again.
Except, the old ladies are right. Mothering is as mysterious as it is messy. (Almost.) The days feel endless. Between hand washings, diaper changes, bottom wiping, snot removal, bedtime stories and meals…eaten and rejected… Time passes like a kidney stone.
Then suddenly, years have passed and they are grown.
Girls, treasure that dandelion. Someday, it will be your last.
Dear lord, mothering is hard. And precious. Help us to treasure even the messy days. Give us your perspective on time, so that we may always remember that last dandelion. And lord? When dandelion days are coming to an end- help us look forward with joy to the days to come. Being the parents of adults is equally and differently precious and messy. Thank you lord, for dandelions the the children who’ve taught me to live them, amen.