Turtle Mother Love

Every day when I enter my garden I must watch my step. It has become the favorite egg laying sanctuary of the neighborhood turtles. Out of the Charles River they emerge, in the weeks of the full moon. The wood and wire fence that surrounds the garden to keep animals out doesn’t deter them at all. They are happy to dig under to let themselves in.

On the morning of the full moon, I discovered three large snapping turtle mothers laying eggs, two atop my compost piles, and one guarding the gate. I had a lot to do that day. I had to tie up my peas, weed, water, plant cucumbers and squash, till and hoe. I decided after an hour of patient delay, the one laying her eggs next to my pea trellises would just have to deal with my presence. I set to work, as she silently watched me. After a few minutes of work, in a brief moment of stillness, I’m sure I heard her ask, “Must you, really?” I felt a pang of guilt. Twenty-three weeks pregnant with my own son, I feel a kinship to this nest maker. Can I not afford to give this turtle mother-to be a bit of privacy, peace and quiet?

Tonight, at sundown, I entered my garden, begrudgingly. I realized I had a very long to-do list left undone. Instead of completing it, I had walked with my brother and his girlfriend along the river. Determined to finish the list before going to bed, I felt I must re-till the spinach rows that went to seed before they were harvestable. Inedible, they were a failure. As I watered my carrots in procrastination of the massive rototilling job ahead of me, I unintentionally sprayed a painted turtle mother digging a hole for her eggs nearby with my hose. She startled, and I watched as she abandoned her labor, turned, and left my garden.

I put down the hose, and went to sit quietly to reflect by the river. I wonder about what these mothers are telling me about my own pregnancy. Is my chronic self-criticism, need for productivity and toil really necessary? Must I really get to work––now? 

Can I love myself deeply enough to leave myself in peace during this time? If I wasn’t pregnant, wouldn’t I still be doing enough? I begin to remember that I don’t need to justify my right to be with my pregnancy or my to-do list. Tonight as I leave my garden, I thank the turtle mothers of the Charles River for taking it over for me, so I can go to bed early, and be.

– Perrin, Massachusetts

All Love Letters’ are pristine, posted as they were received. Please forgive any spelling and grammar issues, since the writing was done in the throes of love, and sometimes love doesn’t care about commas or misplaced letters.

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