Monday, September 28, 2015

On Gardening and Parenting.

(Is this produce from my actual garden? Yeah right.)

Confession: I am not the mom I thought I would be. 

I remember watching my mother in absolute awe as she sliced an apple. Perfectly cutting away JUST the stem and seeds and leaving all of the crunchy deliciousness of the fruit still intact. I was maybe 10 at that time. And I thought, discouragingly: I will never be able to do that. I'm not going to be a very good mom. 

Let's just say, I still cannot cut an apple the way my mom did. My children are luckily spared from being exposed to this mortifying ineptitude by the Pampered Chef Apple Wedger. Unfortunately, they are very much aware of all my other motherly failings. And, oh they are abundant. 

I have not the patience, the sympathy, the dedication to breakfast-making, the nurturing, the bread baking, the Lego building, or the early-morning-rising capabilities that I hoped I would magically be endowed with when I became a mother. (And that's just off the top of my head.)

This has been the story of my entire career in mothering. I have always wished I could do more. Be more. Be closer to the mom my kids should have. When my oldest went to college a year ago, I was overcome with horrible guilt and disappointment that I never got to be the stay-at-home mom that I had wanted so desperately to be. The mom that was there when my kids got home from school every day. To greet them with a smile. And maybe some cookies. I felt like she hadn't gotten the best of me. And she deserved it. They all do.

I am no longer in the battle-worn trenches of young motherhood. Knee deep in potty training and child-proofing and diapering. But my kids need me no less now than they did then. They may even need me a little more. They need my help with homework, my attention, my comfort, my guidance. At no time is this more obvious than when we sit down for dinner (if we sit down for dinner) and they are talking over themselves, interrupting each other, fighting with each other just trying to tell me about something-that-happened-at-school-today. It is at this point in the day that I realize how woefully inadequate the few hours I have left to give them are. 

This has been the source of much misery for me lately. Knowing that they need more from me than I am physically able to give. Knowing that they should be eating homemade meals with rolls and salad and I am instead feeding them mac 'n cheese or ramen noodles. Figuratively. And literally.

With these thoughts circling my mind and weighing on my heart, I went out to water the garden again this morning. Typically by this time of the year it has gotten cold enough that the garden has stopped producing. This year, not so much. (Note: This is not a complaint about the fabulous September temperatures we've had this year. Cyndie loves the warm.) Looking over my sad little plot, I realized that I have not given my garden much love this year. Sure, I weeded a little. I generally remembered to water it. But all in all, it looks pretty bedraggled. The rows are uneven and slightly (totally) diagonal. The tomato cages are skewed haphazardly all over the place. The plants are covered in dead leaves and branches that should've been pruned off. There are peppers and tomatoes that have rotted on the vines because I didn't pick them soon enough. It's really a pretty pathetic sight. I am embarassed when anyone asks to see it. 

But. BUT, despite my neglect. Despite my inadequacy. Despite my lack of quality just..keeps...producing. AND, the tomatoes and peppers that it produces (when I get to them in time) are good. Really good, in fact. 

And it dawned on me, looking at my semi-neglected garden, that somehow the little care I have managed to find time to give it has been enough. Not wonderful, not exceptional, not entirely sufficient. But enough. Enough that it has somehow managed to thrive anyway. 

Maybe that's the blessing of hardy plants. And maybe, just maybe, it's the blessing of resilient children. 

The care and attention I give them is not what I wish it was. It's not even close to what they deserve. Instead of storytime, they get Netflix. In place of homemade cookies, they get granola bars, frozen burritos, and string cheese (if they're lucky.) Rather than quality time, they get the-couple-hours-left-in-the-day-when-I'm-not-working-or-doing-homework. It's not pretty. But in spite of it, they somehow manage to thrive anyway. They are witty. They are smart. They are beautiful. 

They are good. Really good, in fact.

And I may just have to find comfort in this fact. The fact that what I am doing for them is by no means phenomenal. It's not even substantial. 

But somehow. And in some way. It's enough. 

And the harvest they produce is simply amazing.


  1. Its so easy to beat ourselves up over the what ifs or the I shold do mores. However, when we look at all the burdens and trials and tribulations and realize that when we do what we can, then like the little garden it is in fact enough. At Elder Scott's funeral today in describing how God had looked upon him many years ago one of the speakers said that God did not look on the outward appearance of Elder Scott, but rather the intent of his heart. My dear daughter your children and your parents and Heavenly look no t on your outward appearance but rather the intents of your heart. President Uchtdorf that our strength not from frantic activity, but being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. Remember always on the foundation on which you are settled.

  2. They are thriving indeed. And just remember, it is because of you, not in spite of you. Love you so much.

  3. Been there and done it. We all feel guilt about not having been supermum. But we do our best and if our kids grow up to be happy and well-adjusted adults then it was a job well done. I enjoyed this post - and you came to the right conclusion. Enjoy your kids and your produce (my children are grown but I'm still planting veg in the garden).

  4. Beautifully written, related and expressed Dear Cyndie ;) You're a wonderful mother, a supportive friend and an amazing gardener of all things ;)