The Year My Best Friend Was a Daffodil

In the spring of 2020, I made a new friend. In my front yard.

“WHAT?!” you may be thinking. “HOW, when the world went into lockdown due to SARS CoV-2, did YOU manage to make a new friend in your front yard?!”

That’s a good question.

In March 2020, as we know, the world changed suddenly, immediately, irretrievably, to a place of distance, isolation, and fear. Going to the grocery store was terrifying. Walking on the street felt like you were taking your life in your hands if a jogger passed by, breathing hard. Working from home, being trapped at home, became the new reality. And playgrounds?? CRAWLING with CoV-2.

A new mom for the second time, I was suddenly home all day with a 3 year old for whom daycare was no longer an option, and a 6 month old who decided to start crawling about two days after the March shutdown occurred.

So here’s something that’s important to note.

I love my kids. They are hilarious and wonderful and smart and charming and odd.

But I need time away from them. Always have, always will. I am done wishing I was different. I am beyond feeling badly about it. I literally is just who I am. Lots of other moms feel this way but we arent allowed to talk about it (that goes against the fundamental belief we have about mothers - which serves mothers not a whit) but anyway all moms feel it - even now and then so, ya. Lets all just get on with it.

I need time and space to rebuild myself, and if I don’t, I struggle. I rage, to be frank. And these two concepts of “time” and “space” went out of the window with nary the primal scream that they deserved, because I quickly became too defeated and overwhelmed and annoyed and tired. In no way am I saying Im special or that my experience was unique, or that I didn’t appreciate being able to stay home and be safe. I don’t think that, and I am thankful. But I struggled. Every day.

I found brief moments of respite where I could. In a halfhearted attempt at stimulation, when the little one was napping, the older one and I would go on meandering walks.

One day, we ended up in the local public school, sitting on a pile of half-frozen dirt in the middle of the soccer field, chipping away at it with a blue plastic shovel with a bitter wind throwing ice and sand into our eyes in a very pathetic attempt - even for me - at "sand play". Yet even from a distance, I could feel the baleful eyes of others, judging my lingering with my son, our playing in public places, our touching of surfaces even if that surface was covered in frost.

And I cried a bit that day, cried into my scarf, cried just bitter mad tears that were so automatic I didnt even scrunch my face into the ugly cry face. I was just over it in that moment, feeling quite wretched, literally freezing my ass off in a field, playing with icy dirt clods hundreds of yards from anyone - yet still breaking the rules.

“C'mon,” I said, standing up. “We should get going.”

So home we went, moving slowly, me sad, him cold.

And as we walked up the driveway, I saw my new best friend.

My daffodils had emerged.

Now lets back up to fall 2019, when my mom arrived at my house with a bag of daffodil bulbs. “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO PLANT THESE!!!!” I thought. “I'M SO BUSY WITH THE KIDS AND THE HOUSE AND EVERYTHING - WHY WOULD SHE BRING ME THESE? DOESN’T SHE UNDERSTAND?!”

But I think she understood what I needed more than I did, and so the daffodils were pressed into my hands with some suggestions with how to plant them (use something to cover the scent of the bulb; consider a bit of chicken wire over top or chicken manure in the hole, if the squirrels are aggressive; don’t put the bulb on the ground before planting; place the bulbs in groups of at least 6, spaced out). So I found 10 minutes and grudgingly jammed them in the ground, simply to say Id done so, if asked.

And then, all of a sudden, months later - here they were.

I wouldn’t get crazy to say I was speechless, but I do recall I stopped in my tracks. Their strident little heads were bobbing around in the light (well, frigid) breeze, seeming to disregard the cold, not to notice or care that the world had fallen apart.

“Look at this,” I said to the older one, who hunkered down beside me. “Daffodils. From Grandma”.

“Can I touch them?” he asked. So, gently, we touched the leaves and the heads.

And every day, from that day forward, we went outside and talked to the daffs. Touched them, observed them, admired them. Turned around and looked at the street to see what the daffs looked at, the silent observers of this new world. I looked forward to these moments, and the anticipation of the blooms became real to my son and me.

When they finally emerged, we both clapped our hands for the daffs, and drank a Perrier and cheer’s’ed to them, a celebration in our small way. We toasted to life.

I remembered hoping, as I clipped their spent blooms and greens after the bulb had grabbed enough energy from the world to go dormant for another year, that when they appeared in the spring of 2021, maybe, maybe, maybe….things would be different. “Maybe when we see you again, next year,” I said as I removed the last of its bits, “things will be back to normal.”

And that’s the story of how, in 2020, my best friend was a daffodil.

Ed. Note: The spring of 2021 WAS different, but certainly not back to “normal” – actually, Ontario was in the grip of a ravaging third wave of COVID-19 thanks to highly contagious variants of the disease. I think everyone had given over that idea of “normal” in summer of 2020. But in spring, the daffs came back, as cheerful as ever; I think of my mom every time I see them, making the physical distance between us feel a little less. I still struggle with the darkness and sadness that I felt in spring of 2020. It’s just become different, a smeary

backdrop against some moments of sun, but Im trying to manage it.

As are we all.

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