I got sent a copy of Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers, a book that combines a tutorial on writing with a sort of memoir, and as such is enjoyable reading, last week. I was supposed to use a writing prompt and write an essay on mothering (the one I picked was “sensory details”) over at 5 Minutes for Mom. I decided to write about Elliot, about what it’s like to parent a 16 year old who’s basically this stinky hairy man while at the same time being, in my memory at least, this sweet little curly-headed boy with chocolate-brown eyes and a lot of deep thoughts. So I wrote it, but I wasn’t happy with it. It felt clunky; it wasn’t flowing. Then, suddenly, I opened a new file and wrote about a girl I cared for as a daughter for month, after the murder of her mother. It wasn’t where I’d intended to go, but here it is if you want to read it. If you leave a comment over there, you can enter to win a copy of the book.

As for my Mother’s Day, it was nice and uneventful. I am getting a red (dark pink) dogwood tree for the front yard, and I’m very excited about this as I have been wanting one for years. It’s strange to plant trees when you live a transient life. We bought this house but I have no idea how long we’ll be here; maybe till the twins finish high school in 3 more years, maybe longer. My lifetime average is 2-3 years per house and the longest I have ever lived at the same address is 6 years. I’ve planted tulips and daffodils in the yard, and enjoyed them during this second spring here, but I also imagine them being enjoyed by whoever lives here when we move on.  I read that only people who plan to stay put plant trees. I disagree. It’s true that planting a tree is symbolic of putting down roots, but I put down roots differently than most people; I plunge them into the soil like everyone else, but I don’t hold on tightly. I’ve learned that the best way to live in a house is to live as if you’ll always be there, all the while knowing that it’s highly unlikely. This gives the best memories.

An advantage to moving often is the aid to memory that it is. I can figure out pretty accurately when something happened by relating it to where we lived at the time. I lose specific dates, but I can narrow it down to a year or two.

What about you? Do you plant trees in places you suspect might be temporary? What does temporary mean to you?

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