I used to be really anal about the interior of my house. I loved decorating it in a style resembling a World Market clearance warehouse. I kept things neat and tidy but absolutely covered in global crafts. When I saw a picture askew on a wall, I un-skewed it. There were throw pillows that were not thrown. The dining room table was used primarily for dining. Things generally stayed in their place. But then the juvenile hordes invaded, and they did not give a crap about my design scheme. Occasionally, they literally gave a crap right on top of it. Not only do they throw the throw pillows, they throw the actual sofa pillows. The sofa is more often than not a naked shell, unable to fulfill its purpose, its various components gruesomely strewn about. The dining room table is coated in glitter, and that is not a metaphor for the fanciful magic of our meals. We don't so much have meals as brief interludes of eating punctuated by whining and extortion attempts.
I have gradually given the inside of the house over to the invaders and retreated to a place I know they will never linger for any length of time, because it does not have video games. The yard has become my new canvas, as well as my refuge. If I go out into the yard, the children will either leave me alone, or they will follow me out into the yard and inadvertently imbibe fresh air, acquire vitamin D, and make use of muscles that are atrophying before they can even develop properly, like some horrible sit-com produced by George Lucas's niece. This is a win-win. I am either left alone or I am a good parent. The ideal would be if they went outside to play and left me alone in the house, but to quote Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption, "Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a mom insane."
As a canvas, the yard is a mixed bag. It turns out gardening is quite a lot of blood and sweat, with a few tears on occasion, if you care that much, which I absolutely do from April until around July, at which point I wish for everything to die and leave me in peace. And nature is even more unruly and relentless than the most hyper-active preschooler. Nature is also silent, however, making it imminently more pleasant to be around. Not having a single clue as to what I am doing, I have planted things and dug up things and pruned other things and killed many things. I have planted shade plants in the sun and sun plants in the shade, and then I have realized my mistake and rearranged everything that didn't die. I have sprayed large swaths of my yard with Round Up 365, only to realize that 365 refers to the length of time during which you can't plant anything else. I have spread wood chips and made rock paths and laid soaker hoses and thrown out my back more times than I can count. I have battled bugs and fungi and weeds--SO.MANY.WEEDS.--until I think I will lose my mind. I have almost thrown in the towel, retreated back to an indoor life, and given my yard back over to the wilds at various points. But then I remember. THE CHILDREN ARE INSIDE. I return to my weeding.
The only thing worse than children and weeds is GRASS. I HATE GRASS. And yet you can hardly do without it, like a pair of Spanx under a knit dress. I have learned much over the years of trial-and-error gardening, but I have not yet learned to grow grass successfully. Where I can get grass to grow, weeds also thrive. In other areas, my lawn looks like it is a balding man fighting half-heartedly back with hair plugs. My lawn is littered with such "plugs," thick in patches, sparsely strewn, and also not grass, more often moss or wild ginger or some other noxious substance. I tried to seed the entire lawn myself one year, to no avail. Then I was told shade is the culprit, I just have too much of it. Grass doesn't like shade. So I have gradually covered more and more of the grass with plants and wood chips that do like shade.
Having gotten to what I considered maximum acceptable wood chip cover, I made a command decision to fight a final battle with the lawn, no messing around. This would be my Waterloo but unlike Napoleon, I would not wear a weird hat and I would win. I called a professional lawn company. I told them I wanted a nice lawn, and they promised they could give it to me. They promised lime controller, grub killer, weed killer, fertilizer, aerating and seeding. And on the really bare part of the lawn, they laid whole new turf. This was not cheap, by the way, in case you are wondering. I was filled with hope, I didn't care what Morgan Freeman said. My children may never ever ever eat a vegetable or put away a single belonging voluntarily, but dammit I was going to have nice grass. I roped off the new turf so the animals and children and lawn mower service would not offend it. I lovingly watered it. I spoke to it in hushed tones. It grew and grew and looked amazing.
But then, I unroped it and let it go free, as you have to do with wild things, and my friends, I am sorry to say my new grass could not hack it in the natural world. It was as if Elsa the lion had not so much run off to live a successful wild lion life but was crushed by a wildebeest on a tractor. The dog peed on it. Children trampled it (not mine, of course, they never go outside). And then came the mass-production, mow-the-entire-neighborhood-in-5-minutes lawn service. They ran it over with a mower the size of a Bradley tank and with the blade set to buzz cut. They did this over and over and over again, like a vindictive barber, never mind that there was soon only 5 blades of grass left to cut. Before I realized it, I had a massive, expensive patch of mud. But don't worry, the lawn company returned this week and aerated and seeded it. And applied the lime stuff. My mud will be lime-free.
Oh, but the best part is I get to mow what is left of the lawn by myself, because I cancelled the blitzkrieg lawn mowers in a rage. So they would no longer mow my mud.
So I think I'm done. At least for this year. I no longer have the strength for the outdoors. I'm retreating inside and praying for winter, the great equalizer, to come and kill all the lawns. I will worry about what to do in March, when the daffodils emerge to cheer me.