We had a four day weekend that is ending today. April 23 is National Children’s Day, and rather than have a tiresome assembly with dancing and elbowing other parents out of the way to take a photo, Baki’s school sensibly gave the kids the day off. After all, how do kids celebrate? Not with school assemblies.
It was lovely to have four days in the garden. I did a lot of running back and forth last week because Ali went up to Istanbul last Thursday (he came back Sunday). By the time the boys and I got to the garden in Friday night, I barely knew whether I was coming or going.
Saturday morning, I weeded and watered and transplanted to my heart’s desire. These things are not as thrilling to Baki, though, and as it was “his” weekend, I thought I’d better show him a bit of a good time. We headed down to the seaside that afternoon for a few hours in the sun and the sand (although none of us braved the sea).
I felt a bit sorry for myself when I saw how Kaya loved the sandbox in Istanbul, thinking how it was just too bad that we didn’t have a similar place near us. Silly me; the biggest sandbox around is just 20 minutes away by car.
Kaya ate handfuls of sand, which appeared in his diaper the following day. That can’t have been comfortable, but he didn’t show any signs of anything amiss. Maybe it was good roughage (I thought, hopefully).
The open horizon ahead of me, with the sound of waves and the (possibly negligent) lack of worry during that afternoon left me feeling relaxed, and it completely erased the mad coming and going of the previous week. However, I did also notice something that I’d never thought about.
Ali often complains about being alone in the garden while we are in the city during the week. It’s a bit better lately, since Kaya and I go out two days a week while Baki is in school, but the fact is, I never took Ali’s complaint all that seriously. After all, he gets to stay in the garden, and I am left to the lusterless city.
While I was working in the garden alone, though, I noticed that although I was happy to be doing the work, I was acutely aware that Ali wasn’t there. That’s to be expected, no doubt, but what caught me by surprise was how his absence seemed to dull any creative spark in me. I could imagine keeping things going, but i had no vision for the future. I think that I have finally understood just how much of a partnership this garden has become for us. We work together and we work as one.
My father was a journalist, a war correspondent, and he was passionate about his work. Not that he took himself all that seriously (it was one of his great strengths that he was always able to keep things firmly in proportion), but he adored the work. His work was who he was. When he retired, he drifted for a good long time, unable to redefine himself. To his credit, he began to write poetry in his 70s and rediscovered the poet that in fact he had always been, which just goes to show you that it’s really never too late.
All of that struggle left me wary of identifying too heavily with this or that, though, and I thought that I had escaped it by not being passionately in love with any profession that I took up (and there were a few). Then I looked up from a freshly weeded vegetable bed and had to admit that not only had I become fully entrenched in being a mother and a gardener, I had also managed to constitute only half of the equation.