This weekend one of the topics I will be speaking on at the MTHEA Expo is 10 Things I Wish I had Known as a Young Mother. I’ve got more to add to that presentation now since this morning when I took a break from office work and took a foray outside to get some fresh (cold) air. It’s been rainy and chilly for five days in a row now, and it’s mid- to late May. Weird.
Anyway, I love to take a turn about the gah-den in the mornings and see what is blooming out there. We have an acre and a half, but since we are on a wooded hill overlooking a lake, there isn’t a lot of yard that gets enough sun for a garden. Erosion is an issue as well. Ugh. BUT I do have two garden spots, and this morning since it was so cool and damp out, I thought it might be a good time to pull some weeds. I would have taken a “before” picture if I wasn’t so ashamed of how weedy the flower garden had gotten.
As I was wildly grabbing fistfuls of weeds and yanking them out by their roots, I began to think about my “garden” of children and how relevant the metaphor of raising children and tending a garden is. I remember writing a piece on this topic once when I was much younger and my kids were as well. But today I had much more to think about regarding this particular metaphor due to hindsight. I thought I’d share some of the things that I’ve learned over the past 21 years of child-raising that may be worth sharing.
It’s best to weed when the weeds are small. Big weeds not only are tough to get rid of, but they hurt more to remove. (See pic above) The time to pull those weeds of bad attitudes, whining, disrespect, anger, and all things crummy is when children are young. If these weeds are pulled when the soil is soft and loose, the pullin’ is much easier.
Pulling weeds takes effort on the gardener’s part! It is part of the daily care of the garden. So it is our daily task as parents to lovingly correct our children with consistency and diligence and effort.
Fertilizing plants is a good thing. In our metaphor here, fertilizer is praise. Give praise liberally and with all sincerity.
Weeds may look pretty, but they ultimately steal nutrients and space from neighboring plants. For example, the sweet pea vine looks pretty, but it strangles everything it touches. Beware of stuff that appears to be good for your garden, but in reality, it steals, kills, and destroys…all while looking pretty.
Some kinds of weeds I need my husband to pull for me…such as poison ivy. He has no allergic reaction, so I let him tackle all the poison ivy since he is better suited to dealing with it. Same thing w/children’s behavior. Some behavior (weeds) myhusband will deal with because it is beyond what I want to deal with, quite honestly. For example, after a day of weed pulling, I am tired. It is sometimes necessary for dad to back up mom after a long day of weed pulling. I have said before, “You’ll be dealing with your dad when he gets home,” on occasion when I simply am worn out and the child needs to also deal with daddy. Mom and dad form a partnership (or a landscaping crew, if you will). It takes two to weed.
For a beautiful and rewarding garden, the gardener must be attentive to weed pulling. If the gardener slacks off, the garden reflects it!
Wouldn’t you agree that a gardener shapes a garden? How much more do parents shape their children?
If you can’t make it to my seminar on the 10 Things I Wish I’d Known as a Young Mother, it is available for Kindle download on Amazon. 🙂