There comes a time in any mother’s trajectory when she can clearly look back and see when she lost her mind. My moment of insanity occurred last week. My six-year-old and I were enjoying a lovely morning outside — me poking around in my garden while she, bug bucket in hand, sought out toads or creepy crawlies to examine. I was mentally congratulating myself on my perennials, which (if I do say so myself) are looking quite spectacular.
That’s when I spotted them. Aphids. Hundreds — nay thousands of tiny green parasites feasting on my roses.
My daughter came over to see what was up. She didn’t see the aphids, nor the feasted-upon rosebuds. She spotted only the ladybug. The lone ladybug, valiantly munching his way through the aphids like a spotted warrior. She reached out to scoop him into her bug bucket.
“NO,” I screamed. She recoiled. Her lip quivered.
I tried to explain. “Sweetie,” I began, in my best Mommy-is-not-going-to-lose-it voice, “some nasty aphids are trying to eat my flowers. That ladybug is helping me by eating the bad bugs.”
“But I want him,” she said simply, reaching out again to grab him.
“NO,” I screamed again.
“Yes!” she replied, stamping her foot. “I want him. I love ladybugs.”
I finally managed to dissuade her from removing my sole defense against an army of antagonistic aphids by promising her that we’d find another ladybug … and that she could have that one.
I share this story not to reveal how truly poor my parenting skills are … but to point out how truly obsessed I’ve become with my organic garden and its organicness.
No one is more surprised about this than I am. I come from Irish stock who never saw the point in growing anything you couldn’t eat. My grandfather cherished his vegetable garden (I have one of those, too!). But my parents were baffled by people who gardened. That planted the seed in me that gardening was for people who didn’t have more important things to do. It was no surprise that, when I later moved into a home with spectacular gardens that bloomed sequentially from early spring through fall, my neglect (and our dogs) wreaked havoc on that inherited beauty.
Then I bought an organic gardening book. I started sowing seeds. I made compost and mulched with abandon. And I started fighting aphids with every ladybug I could conscript into battle. Pretty soon, I was dividing perennials and bursting with pride when they thrived in their new digs.
So as my daughter and I headed to the garden shop for more ladybugs, I talked fast to convince her to keep my garden obsession our dirty little secret.