Family, friendships

the gardener within


On Sunday I sat in a church pew staring at my youngest son’s holey (not holy) pumped up kicks.

And instantly felt the pang of regret.  Before spring break my younger boys had asked me for new shoes.  I had promised them some after their track meet in mid-April; to make sure they could run in comfort in their well worn soles.  That was two weeks ago.

As we exited the church foyer I looked at my middle son’s pants and grimaced.  The new pants we purchased in January were already two inches too short.  He had also complained about the length of his jeans; opting to wear shorts with his Stance socks.  How is it that I’m too busy to provide clothes for my children?  What a terrible mother I am!

I thought to the group of seven women from Friday night, discussing our latest book.  Amongst tears of laughter came the discussion of relationships and expectations.   Most times our expectations are unattainably high or unrealistic.  Usually the focus is on ourselves.  The things we want sometimes makes us forget to consider the other participants.  I know.   I’m guilty.

As we walked amongst stores, in search of shoes, the tweener asked if there was anything I wanted.  I noted that we had just passed a women’s store advertising Mother’s Day.  The list ran in my mind of material things; over-priced house improvements; things unrelated to mothering.  I thought of my empty garden beds; imagining my kids toiling the soil with me.   I had just lamented to the girls on Friday how my gardening hobby is non-existent.    I never answered my son.  But I think I will let him know this wish.  To spend time outdoors gardening.  Together.  While I still have them at home.


Because gardening is akin to mothering.  You prepare the soil making sure it has the proper nutrients; just as a mother provides food, shelter, clothing.  You plant your seeds; hoping they take root.  You allow them sunlight and water; gauging the location and placement to make sure the plant can optimally grow.   You weed constantly, clearing out the things that hinder growth.  You vigilantly watch for bugs and spray (in my case) natural pesticides.  In inclement weather (such as frost) you provide cover to weather the storm.  You hope and pray that your seedling will bloom; making it to maturity.  There is great satisfaction to watch seeds flower or fruits/vegetables ripen on the vine.  It is then that you reap from the harvest; thankful.  With love.


Anyone can do all of the above.  But if you don’t love what you do and appreciate the work you’ve done; it’s all for naught.  If you cultivate and continue to predict the end crop; you’re not enjoying the stage that is right before your very eyes.  If your focus is on the harvest you’re not seeing what the plant needs, right now.  The expectation of the perfect flower, the succulent fruit bring disappointment if it does not come to pass.  You’re too busy to notice what’s right before your eyes and what it needs.  Growing seasons vary and some seeds do not produce in the first season.  Sometimes, they are late bloomers.


Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day…these are Hallmark holidays which promote consumerism and disappointment.  If I don’t get recognition (as a spouse/mother) with a large bouquet or presents; I am not valued.  These are silly things.  I work hard to let these expectations go.  They are unrealistic.


I need to rediscover my love for gardening; to get my hands dirty.  To make the time for it.   I’ve lowered my expectations because that is the easy button; survival in a world of mindless instant gratification with no meaning.   I have become impatient; expecting that at a click of a button I can purchase anything I want with a plastic card to make things perfect; happy.  Toiling for material possessions, glory, recognition..these are fleeting.  Motherhood is a thankless job; one that I chose willingly.  But I have become complacent; allowing the weeds to grow and the land to lay fallow.


The simple question from my son has given me purpose.  I hugged each one, in turn; just because.


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