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Why I never had children

…because I couldn’t remember to take care of my houseplants!  I took that as a clear sign from God motherhood was not for me.  (I kept having this recurring nightmare of looking up after completing the last chapter of my latest bestseller, and seeing the gaunt starving faces of my children gathered around my desk pantomiming the universal sign for ‘Feed us, you miserable excuse for a mother!”  and I’d think, “Oh right.  The kids!“)

Friends used to give me their houseplants if they wanted them done away with, but didn’t want the guilt.  No problem!  In about a week, the deed was done, and a tidy sum of cash would appear in one of my off-shore accounts.  Plant after plant bit the dust, and no amount of tender loving care on my part could save them.  Not that they got a lot of tender loving care from me to begin with…or even ever.

Watering was the biggest problem.  If God had wanted us to remember to water the plants, why couldn’t He have made them give an audible gasp at the appropriate time?  Or perhaps a lovely little chime?  Or teach them how to drag their pots over to the sink and water themselves!!  But I digress.

A couple of years after the Mister and I jumped the broom, I read an article on clear air plants and thought improving the oxygen saturation of the air in the house, especially in winter, would not be a bad thing.  Best of all, many of these plants were drought resistant!  “Were these plants not made for me?” I breathed holding the article to my chest, raising my eyes heavenward.  “Why yes, yes I believe they were!  Thank you God!”

So we bought one, a lovely little green thing with the unpronounceable name of “aglaonema.”  I have only ever transplanted it twice, and it is still growing and blooming quite happily after more than 20 years!  (That’s gotta be a record, right?  Sure is for me!)  And what’s more, I had to abandon it for MONTHS at a time when my mother was ill, but all I had to do was pour a little water on the thing when I got home and no harm done!  WOW!

Over the years, I’ve acquired more plants, and it seems I no longer have the touch of death (or so I thought until recently).  I’ve had to change locations for some of them – actually found a couple that prefer the basement! – but they all seem to be happy with my care of them, and even tolerate my lapses with forbearance.

Until this Christmas.  A dear friend gave me a cyclamen as a gift, beautiful green, with a spray of white flowers that look like falling stars.  Just lovely!  And it came wrapped in this pretty gold paper (and then in plastic wrapping) and looked ever so Christmassy.  Since it was doing so well, I decided it was happy and proceeded to ignore it until after about a week I noticed it seemed a bit limp.

“Needs watering!” I thought and I gave it a good dousing, not realizing the flower shop does not include a saucer with the plants it wraps up so prettily.  So the poor thing sat soaking in this water, unable to make me understand it needed a diaper change…badly!

I didn’t clue in until I transplanted it early in the New Year.  Ah well, new pot, new beginning, and an important lesson learned about saucers or the lack thereof.  After cleaning it all up, I placed in a south-facing window where the sun just comes blasting in, and smiled, knowing in my heart that I am indeed a good mother.

Turns out, I did everything a person should do if they want to kill a cyclamen.

You don’t transplant them until they go dormant.  You do not water them from the top down, but rather let them soak in water for 15 minutes.  Any longer and the tuber could rot. They prefer a moist environment and should be placed in a tray of water lined with pebbles to keep the pot above the waterline.  And you never EVER put them in a south-facing window because they can’t take the bright light or the heat and prefer much cooler digs.  I learned all this on line after the poor plant failed to thrive…and now I know why.

As I rushed it down the basement steps, I kept repeating, “Sorry baby, sorry, sorry, sorry,” and “Please don’t die, please don’t die, please don’t die!”  I set it up in a tray with pebbles and the water, in indirect light, in a cool corner of the basement where a couple of pothos plants are flourishing, hoping this might inspire it thrive, or at least not give up the ghost.  And, so far, so good.  I’m kind of afraid to touch it now, but the leaves are lifted, very little yellow, and a couple of buds actually opened up.

So my plant is in rehab.  We are guardedly optimistic about its prognosis, but so far the signs have been good.  And I do talk to it every day…mostly apologizing.

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