This was my morning. My elder son & I wrangled over each individual magnolia branch, pretty much. See, I’m a tree person, and Nathan is a landscape person. He wants a useful and beautiful landscape for his home. I want trees treated like people, allowed to grow (with help — AKA judicious pruning) to their best selves.
Sometimes, these alternate realities are not easy to reconcile.
Luckily, my wonderful DIL is a good mediator, as are my husband and younger son. And my grandson is a marvelous distraction.
And even though it looks like chaos, w/ all the branches strewn beneath, I know that the magnolia is the best compromise possible — more branches left lower (and fuller) than Nathan probably anticipated, but fewer than I would have done for my own tree.
Parenting is like this. You’re always juggling freedom w/ knowledge. In this case, I have a LOT of tree knowledge, hard-won over decades of crappy yards, and reading up on the various ecologies where we’ve lived. The desert (henna and Natal plum and hibiscus), the tropics (plumeria and bougainvillea), the prairie (dogwood and redbud and pecan).
But my son isn’t, although he’s quite knowledgeable in his own right. And like most of our children, his objectives are different than mine. For me, aesthetics is a huge deal. For him, the man who began his college career as an engineer, functionality is more critical. He is his father’s son: he want head room for a mower. Me? I’d push the mower forward under the tree line.
But as you can see, together with my daughter-in-law, husband, and younger son, the two trees turned out well. And in the long-term? They’ll flourish. Kind of like my sons: not what I thought they’d be (I never planned for them to live so far away!), but incredibly lovely.
This seems an appropriate reflection, given that this is the last holiday we’ll all share for quite a while. My younger son is readying for an around-the-world trip, one he anticipates will take at least a year or more. Which means this Fourth of July holiday is all the more precious. And the hot, sweaty work of picking up branches, and straining against lopper just sliiiiightly too small for the branch that needs cutting less a pain than a communal project.
This isn’t work I like to do at home. But here, w/ family members on the deck, taking turns holding & feeding the grandson, it’s heaven. Or at least a Virginia equivalent. Amazing what love can do to sweeten hard work.