08/13/2014 12:56 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Garden of Good Intentions

Marie Zullo

Walking through the yard, I came across some irises I had purchased 4 years ago. They were thriving, right along with the weeds, even though they were still in the pot they came in when I purchased them. I really need to plant those, I thought. I thought that every time I walked by these irises, but this time, I was going to do it.


I headed to the garage to get my gardening tools. My boys were playing in the front yard. Great, they hadn't even seen me. I might actually get this done.

As I grabbed my bag of gardening tools, I uncovered an unopened bag of wild flower seeds. I had bought this bag of seeds 2 years ago. Today, I am going to plant them. Right after I planted that iris.

I reached for the bags of peat moss and potting soil. The potting soil bag was empty. I knew I hadn't used it all. At least, I still had the peat moss.

Kneeling down to start planting the iris, I realize I have forgotten the watering can. Back to the garage I trudged in search of the watering can. I stopped to check on the boys. They were still playing. If I was very, very quiet and very, very fast, I might actually get the iris planted.

I found the watering can sitting on top of boxes of bulbs I had purchased as part of a school fundraiser last year. I had bought a lot of them. I wondered if they were still viable. I would plant them right after the wild flowers.

As I exit the garage, I hear the first grumblings of discontent. My time is running out. I hurry to fill the watering can. Near the hose sit the remnants of the vegetable plants the kids and I planted earlier in the spring. We had started the plants from seeds and had nurtured them in the garage. Some of them had actually grown. Until, we were supposed to plant them outside. This was as far as they had gotten. I hear my sons' voices growing louder in the front yard.

I hurry back to the iris. I have my tools, my peat moss and my watering can full of water. I put the shovel into the ground and hear the clink as it hits the stony soil. The first yell of "MOM!" rises over the roof from the front yard. I wonder if I can ignore it long enough to get the iris into the ground. This time the "MOM! MOM!" is a scream.

One of them must be hurt. My heart starts to race and I scramble to the front yard. The screaming is getting louder and I think one of the boys is crying.

"What, what happened? Are you two okay?" I asked, my eyes scanning for blood.

Nic's face and ears are flecked with dirt. Or, more precisely, potting soil, which I now see is piled up on top of Aaron's Thomas trains (I am later informed that this is "a re-enactment of the landslide in a classic Thomas episode from season 5"). Aaron's face is red and tear-soaked.

"We didn't know where you were!" Aaron shouts at me. "Don't leave us like that."

"Aaron, honey, I told you when we came out (all of 15 minutes ago) that I would be in the backyard if you needed me. I'm sorry if you were scared." I give Aaron a hug and wipe his tears with my shirt. I don't bother to ask why Nic's face is covered in potting soil.

I realize it must be close to lunch time. My boys do not hold it together very well on empty stomachs. I herd them inside and prepare some lunch. I help Nic clean up and give Aaron a few more reassuring hugs.

While I clean the lunch dishes, I look over the backyard at the overgrown lawn. My eyes land on the iris, still in its pot, surrounded by my gardening tools, the bag of peat moss and the watering can, all of which are getting soaked.

The boys are picking out a book for us to read together. They are asking if I will make milkshakes later and if they can help.

For now, the most important nurturing I am doing is waiting for me to read books with them. For one more summer, outside, I will only have a garden of good intentions. Next year, I'll have a real one. And I mean it.

This blog post is part of a series for HuffPost Moments Not Milestones, entitled 'The Moment I Stopped Being Perfect.' To see all the other posts in the series, click here.