War Wounds

I know I’ll pay for this, but I can’t hold it in anymore.
I’m proud of the blister on my palm.
I’ve been babying it for days in public.
I hold up my hands – “Look what I did!” I’m waiting for them to cast their eyes away in sympathy, to ask, “Ouch, what’d you do?”
Finally, I can tell my story.
“I’ve been digging dandelions,” I answer with such glee that the look of sympathy changes to one of confusion.
“That’s it?” they ask.
“That’s it?” I’m annoyed now. “That’s it? Do you know what it’s like to yank those things out of the ground?”
I tugged. I pulled. I muttered my swear words so Jillian wouldn’t hear them from her sandbox.
I wanted those nasty green leaves and their long taproots to taste a little bit of the bitterness that climbs up my throat every time I try to walk across my brown lawn in bare feet. Those evil little things have stolen my luscious green lawn. Their yellow flowers dance in the breeze mocking me, all sunshine and light.
It’s my fault. The summer that Jillian was born, I threw up my hands. With an aching back and nighttime feedings, I had neither time nor patience for gardening.
My black thumbs took a year off, and the flowers did a jig. The weeds just kept on growing.
When I resumed my novice version of lawn maintenance the following year, I was already too late. If I pulled at something suspicious and it came loose, I quickly learned it was a flower I’d just removed from the soil. If a tussle with the leaves got me nowhere, no doubt it was a weed.
I spent last summer in denial. I put down weed and feed. I put down grass seed. I watered. I raked.
This year my back lawn grew in plush and green. The front lawn is as brown as my hound dog.
As I wheeled the garbage can out to the curb in my bare feet last week, the dust swirling around my ankles, I made a decision.
I can’t hurt the good stuff – there’s no good stuff left. So I got to work. I set Jillian up with her 100 pounds of play sand and a few buckets, and I settled in on the ground with a shovel and bowl.
I didn’t just get mad. I got even.
I spent hours hunched over my little trowel rooting around in the bone-dry earth.
Each weed extricated was a little victory, each bowlful dumped in the garbage a triumph.
I will never be done, but I’m winning the war.
Don’t believe me? I’ll show you.
I’m wearing my badge of honor on my hand.

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