When I moved into my current house, I had a lovely Rosemary plant in a pot. He’d grown to be nearly two feet tall, pot not included, and I was looking forward to planting him in my garden. That was nearly six years ago, and so much of what I’d expected hasn’t quite turned out as planned.
My household has been ruled by men, well, more boy- than man-energy to be precise. With Kikko, we girls make up one third of the household, and not the dominant third by any stretch of reckoning. The men-folk have us outnumbered by far. It ain’t right, my inner Feminist-Warrior-Witchey Self says almost daily. I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about this. Anger and sorrow are probably the dominant ones, but despair and shame and judgement have all had their day, too. I should have realized five years ago, when my prized Rosemary died, this would not be a household where the woman reigns. I probably should have accepted that rather than railing against it for so long. Sometimes, submission truly is the wisest policy. It took me just four years to figure that out.
The little Rosemary I bought last spring (the Fifth to attempt life in my space), decided to stick it out for the winter here. Despite being pruned by The Man long before he’d established himself and never quite being planted in the ground, this little Rosemary survived. I brought him inside late in winter, before the first freeze but only just. I set him on my bathroom counter next to The Boy’s cactus garden, hoping he’d at least manage to hang on until I could give him better accommodations next spring back in the real sunshine I know he loves. He rewarded me with a few tiny buds, an couple of blossoms, and some new growth–the first I’ve seen on him since he came to stay.
Those buds came in conjunction with my realization that now is exactly the time in my son’s life when he needs a strong father, a patriarchy, a truly male environment. Back before we moved to this house, his life revolved around mine and mine around his. I think you could have legitimately called ours a matriarchal household. That was good for him then. He learned to be compassionate and caring, to respect the power of women, and he developed his inner feminine side in a healthy way. Now that he’s a teen, exploring the world of men and learning to be his own man, patriarchy offers him the support and clarity of focus he needs.
For an independent, strong woman such as myself, that’s a hard pill to swallow. Being primarily a stay-at-home Mom, Caregiver, and supporter rather than headliner in most of our family’s business makes it that much harder–most of what I do isn’t valued by our current culture, at least not in the ways that make for a healthy self-image. Yet, if I want my boy to become the Good Man I know he can be, this very-male environment is exactly the medicine I must accept.
Rosemary’s offering of buds and new growth just as I got my mind right, so to speak, was a reminder that although this may be how it must be for now, it doesn’t mean it’s forever. I can, with Rosemary’s help, retain ownership of some part of my domain. I can create a positive, powerful, beautiful space for myself within this environment. Thanks to Rosemary, I can stay strong, healthy, and positive about myself and my place in the world despite the sometimes oppressive, frustrating, and occasionally overwhelming dominance of male energy around me. Rosemary truly is Medicine for positive self-identity.