Becoming the Queen of Good Intentions

I woke up at my usual 5:30 a.m. one day last week, and was making coffee when I noticed a light on in my son’s room. I eased open the door and peeked in. 

He was sitting on the side of his bed holding a lap desk and fiddling with something small. I said good morning, and asked what he was doing. 

“Oh, hi, Mom,” he said. “I’m just doing some origami.” 

“Origami?”

“Yeah. I couldn’t sleep. Also, there’s a door in the living room.” 

Sometimes I find it easier to investigate weird occurrences rather than ask my kids to explain them. I indeed found his closet door in the living room.

I went back to his room. “What happened to your closet door?” I asked.

“I took it off. I want to hang one of those beaded curtains? I think I’m gonna change the aesthetic in my room, and go a little boho. Do you know what boho is?”

And, you know, I had to control myself from semi-shouting, “OF COURSE I KNOW WHAT BOHO IS! I HELPED INVENT BOHO!” I managed to just smile and say, “Well, that’s cool!” and also all of the above happened before I had coffee so congrats to me for even remembering all this. 

That day, he hopped on Amazon and started ordering boho accoutrements and within 24 hours his room looked like a bohemian lounging zone. 

I envy this decisiveness in my son – and in my girls, too. They all have the admirable ability to follow their hearts when ideas strike. They’re imaginative and they trust their intuition. 

I may have been like this once. But I no longer trust myself as easily. I think I’m being decisive, then immediately am struck with panicked regret. Earlier this week, after literally days of looking at cabins in Georgia where I could go for a few days of hiking and writing, I booked a place. Within 45 minutes, I cancelled – too much to do, I can’t afford it, need to focus on the kids, blah blah blah, and had to spend two hours getting all of my money back. 

Similarly, I finally weeded my garden. I can hardly call it a garden – it’s more like a raised bed full of many varieties of green growth. It’s anchored by an enormous lemongrass bush on one end, and I feel good about that at least. I used to have a giant rosemary bush, but the person who no longer lives here cut it down. “It’ll grow back,” he said, as I cried angry tears. It has never grown back. 

The garden has been weeded at least three other times over the past several months, once by me and twice by friends who’ve come over to help me with my yard. Once I even planted some stuff. But I forgot to mulch, and soon I couldn’t tell the nasturtiums from the lavender and the sticky things with thorns from the dollar weed roots.  

I had a couple of good seasons with this garden. One year brought me so many cucumbers I couldn’t even find them all. I had a few really exciting months with lettuce and kale, which was amazing. I weirdly had tomato plants that grew six feet tall but never bloomed. No cross-pollination, I think. 

Pre-weeded garden

The weeding I did most recently was dirty and hot. Piles of debris then sat around the garden box perimeter waiting to be bagged until I finally, after four days of thunderstorms, scooped the resulting soup into yard waste bags. I am going to buy mulch this time. I am going to buy mulch. And maybe plant some herbs. 

I am the queen of good intentions. I have sunflower seeds I bought two years ago still waiting for their chance to bloom. What if I plant them in the wrong place? I have bags of organic garden soil that have been sitting on a rotting picnic table in my yard since last summer. I don’t want to spread it unless there are plants for it to nourish.

This habit isn’t limited to my garden, or lack thereof. I bought floating bookshelves seven years ago which still sit in my laundry room. I purchased the coolest peace sign made out of an old whiskey barrel, and I know exactly where I want to hang it. Haven’t done it. 

I painted swaths of different colors on my bedroom walls six months ago, and the chosen paint is resting patiently and untouched under the kitchen table. I have a cool old-fashioned wooden swing I want to hang from one of the giant oaks out back, but I haven’t called anyone who can do it for me. It’s still in the box. 

Years ago when I lived on Cape Cod, on a Friday after work, I threw a bathing suit and a change of clothes in a backpack and rode my bike onto the ferry bound for Martha’s Vineyard. I found a cheap little bed and breakfast with a shared bath, and I spent the weekend riding my bike to different beaches and drinking ice cold beer when I got tired and hot. It was magical.

I can’t imagine doing that now, partly because of the responsibility of leaving house, dogs, teens unattended. But I also don’t trust myself. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I spend too much money? What if I have a bunch of mulch delivered and it’s too much for me to spread? What if I go on vacation and my daughter needs me and I’m seven hours away? What if I’m failing at every fucking thing I do? 

Failing at some things doesn’t make me a failure. I know that. But I thought I would share these thoughts in case some of you also have purchased every ingredient needed for a chopped salad and then watched mournfully as the vegetables wilted in the fridge. In case you’ve also saved an old art canvas thinking you’ll one day paint over it and turn it into a dream board. In case you’ve bought birthday cards you never mailed, curtain rods you’ve never hung, and plants that never made it into pots. 

You are my tribe. You are okay, I think. You are forgiven. Now pardon me while I work on forgiving myself.

15 responses to Becoming the Queen of Good Intentions

  1. suzanne says:

    we need a tattoo that represents our tribe…. i think it should be a phoenix… trauma does this to you, I have been where you are and am only ahead of you by the smallest smidgen… keep going, writing and book a vaca at that cabin…. even if only for 3 or 4 days, baby steps….

    • tricia says:

      I’m down! I’ve been wanting more ink. Thanks for the encouragement, friend. xo

  2. Paula says:

    Girl I’m definitely in your tribe. Glad I’m not the only one. But I think you should plan that get away to a nice cabin and write your guts out.

    Also, you must call someone to put that swing up next week. Then take some pictures so we can see how pretty it is.

    Can’t wait to read the next installment.

  3. Amy Cornett says:

    I love this! The end made me smile! I’m with you my friend. Call me I’ll come over and help you hang things. I won’t weed but I’ll cheer you on! BOOK THE CABIN

  4. Margaret booker says:

    My should do list hovers from 10-20.
    Definitely in the tribe. It’s those Booker genes. Keep writing. Keep fighting.
    Keep loving

  5. Lynn Harlin says:

    when the ‘uh-huhs!’
    changed to ‘what ifs?’

    When she stopped
    and thought
    ‘what if?’ and did
    not jump up with an
    ‘uh-huh!’ on her lips
    quickly moving, going,
    doing that impulsive
    daring, ‘just do it.’
    In ‘uh-huh’ days
    she thought
    not then,
    just took off
    dropped the stable
    discarded the secure
    set out for adventures.
    Then when
    the ‘what ifs?’ set in
    she got the fears, scared
    of what may happen, making
    the doing less alluring,
    just another way to stumble
    plodding was surely comfortable
    plunging suddenly unacceptable
    ‘what ifs?’ took over. Repressed
    ‘uh-huhs!’ fervently suppressed
    ’em. So resolutely she guessed
    Maybe this was being grown up?

  6. An old man told me to just do it, even if it is wrong. Rape your fears.
    I don’t get the tribe thing, live your life from within, you don’t need validation from a badge stuck in your beautiful body.
    You probably do need to move away and start fresh with less noise.

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