Raising boys into men isn’t easy. Expectations from them, their expectations of me, setting boundaries, upholding them against young stubbornness -let’s just say- last Saturday was a rough parenting morning.
During a low moment after another heated exchange, my quiet voice whispered: you just need some yellow. Can anyone relate to this? Needing a color?
The acacia trees were in peak bloom and from past experience I knew they were an easy dye for an easy dose of yellow. I convinced one of my boys, the one who successfully pushed all my buttons, to go on a walk -a mission- to collect flowers.
The day was sunny and warm, a break from the relentless rain that ended our California drought. During our 15 minute walk, the morning’s tension eased back into carefree conversation. We found the trees and plotted the best method of grabbing branches just out of reach, trimming off those blooms still bright with pollen.
“Mom, I got this,” he said as he pulled a knife from his pocket.
“What are you doing with that?!?”
“Mom. You never leave the house without your knife. ”
I will admit, it did come in handy.
Once we returned, I sat outside on the back patio and began ripping blooms from stems. I settled into a rhythm: watching puffs of yellow slowly fill the jar, listening to the kids chatting in the background. The arguing between them, and us, had paused. The tension from my shoulders eased. My mind slowly released a build-up of those “I’m totally screwing up this parenting thing” thoughts. My breathing settled.
I didn’t measure the weight of my blossoms. I didn’t weigh my wool skein. No notes. Those numbers had no meaning for that moment. This was about the ritual: pour steaming water into the jar, watch the color change, feel the heat of the dye against my skin as I dunk and submerge it.
I left the jar in the sun, where it stayed warm, while I puttered around in the garden. By dinnertime, it was ready to be pulled. Keeping it in longer produces an amber yellow. But the color I needed in that moment was bright, mellow, cheerful.
This was a dye for the simple pleasure of the process. When you discover the thing that brings you joy, do that thing.