I love to garden. For most of my life, it’s been my favorite way to relax, to create and to feel one with nature. On the weekends, I’d be up before sunrise, dressed and ready to take on the garden at dawn’s first light. I’d stay out all day, only coming inside when I ran out of daylight, thoroughly exhausted, yet completely exhilarated.
This was my routine for years. Then came the blessing of children. They too have demands. And unlike my garden, their demands are quite vocal and admittedly far more important than anything on my outdoor to-do list. The countless hours of nurturing my garden are now shared with cultivating sprouts of a different sort.
Although my children are still young at ages six and seven, I’d consider them mere seedlings in their present stage of life. So although I’m not qualified yet to speak of their botanical equivalency beyond this stage, I can see some common links between sound gardening practices and sound parenting. I can also tell you what plant characteristics I hope they don’t take on as they mature.
As with plants, depending on the environment, children will thrive, adapt or struggle. I take my role as a gardener and parent most seriously. I want nothing less than to know I created an environment that promotes strong roots and sturdy shoots.
Here are a few more thoughts regarding how I see my children shaping up, using a few common plant terms. I hope my children will always thrive without becoming aggressive or invasive. Assertive would be just fine. I pray they’ll never be considered toxic, poisonous, noxious, thorny, or “nearly wild”. My hope is simply to provide the best foundation, so that ultimately wherever they’re planted, they’ll flourish. I also hope they understand the concept of transplanting and that it is healthy and good.
I’ll work to promote their ability to be adaptable, tolerant of sun or shade and hardy in all zones. I wish them to be evergreen, but if they happen to be deciduous, I envision great bark, beautiful structure, form and four seasons of interest.
I’m sure my seedlings will become specimens in the garden of life, standing out because of their unique attributes, while not overpowering the beauty of their surroundings. I see them not as annuals, bringing color and interest for only a short time, but rather as perennials, not so lavish in show, but for the value they contribute to the garden all year.
I also see my children as that alluring fragrant plant. You likely don’t notice it visually right away, as it is not flashy. Rather, you become aware of it’s pleasing fragrance, often times from a great distance away. You are drawn to the plant, desiring to find the source of this pleasure. Once located, you move in close to take in the full impact of this delight, and always depart with a satisfied sigh and smile on your face.
If I could raise my children to have even more botanical attributes, they would be like plants or trees that provide shelter, protection and food for other living creatures, shade to cool the soil and discourage weeds from taking root nearby.
Yes, I envision a grand plan for what grows under my watch. But, I am a gardener, a nurturer, an optimist and most important, a parent. As such, I believe I have the privilege and responsibility to make a positive impact on the lives of those I love, as well as on the lives of people I will never know, much like gardens do for those who pass by.