Tuesday, April 17, 2012

mother, gardener

What I thought would be a quiet week has turned into a busy one.
Somehow, every year I forget how much time I spend poking and puttering in the flower beds.
Glorious, it is! But then other things take a back seat.
 Yesterday I started another type of weeding: my clothes closet.
I've done this many times, but this time it's serious surgery. 
Time to throw out dresses from the '90's. When on earth would I ever wear those again?
 Katie's dress is also tucked in a closet, and a granddaughter might possibly wear it someday ... yummy, navy and white!

Easter 1999
Anyway. Back to the gardens.
The day was too lovely and wind-whipped and sunny to stay inside, so out I went to putter and weed. Armed with my sharp hoe-ey thing and miniature rake, I stepped into my shade garden out back.

It was then I began to notice so much.
Unless I paid very close to attention to every step,
I invariably crushed an emerging hosta or lily-of-the-valley.
They are small and haven't exploded into their summer space.
They are camouflaged by last autumn's leaves.
If I rush in a wild weeding frenzy, I am like a raging elephant herd,
destroying the tender new life at my feet. 
Finally I slowed down, gingerly stepping here and there.
And when I stopped and squatted down very close, I noticed the tender shoots;
the weeds that must come out.
New weeds are easily pulled before they take deeper root.

It was then I began to think about raising children because
I think it is very similar to my time in the shade bed.

As a young mother I learned to watch my steps around my children.
My example mattered. Very much.
The children were small and if I rushed by them
or didn't listen to their small voices,
or didn't squat down and look intently into their eyes,
or hold their warm little bodies close every single day,
or speak lovingly rather than harshly,
their spirits were easily crushed.

At times I got so very weary of
drawing cars and trucks on an art pad,
making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just so,
teaching manners and respect and proper voices,
answering questions,
singing with Mr. Rogers and Big Bird,
bundling toddlers up against the cold,
reading the same favorite story books,
changing wet crib sheets,
helping with math late at night,
even prayers (I'm embarrassed to admit),
and the sound of my own irritated voice
over and over and over again.

But now I see it was all necessary in raising a
garden of healthy children.
Because without a watchful and unhurried mother nearby,
the weeds of anger, insecurity, loneliness, hostility, and fear are sure to creep in.
She must be there early and often to check for weeds.
(Not that any garden is ever completely weed-free.)
She cultivates love and acceptance and faith in her children's hearts,
so that come summer,
 they find freedom in the space called life.

I am in a new season now.
But it was unspeakably worth my season in the garden.


Karen Dawkins said...

The moment you get rid of the 90's dress the fashion will come back. You know that, right??? :)

Enjoy your peaceful garden!

Anne said...

I love this piece, Barb! You are truly a gifted writer! So proud of you :)