On Growing Plants, NOT Doing All We Can, and My Mother’s Response
My husband has always given me a hard time because I don’t have the greenest thumb in the world.
I try, really I do.
I even have a beautiful sun room, which should be the perfect environment for growing lush greenery. Unfortunately, it seems that my fear of overwatering (which I hear is the number one plight of indoor plants) is a bit too strong, as they start turning brown and wilty more often than not.
I’ve tried different varieties, sure.
There was that peace lily I kept alive for about seven years. I would even say it was thriving for a while! Until I attempted to transport it from my office to home, and forgot it in the back seat of the car. We had a good run.
There was the snake plant my husband had in his old apartment, which he had always done well with. Legend has it they’re a hardy, easy-to-grow plant, a nice little starter for our family when we got married. Yep, that too went from standing tall to bent at the knees in a matter of months. I sent it to my mother’s for rehab.
A couple years ago, someone brought a clover plant to our church festival. It was so inviting, all rounded and green with pretty pink flowers poking out. At the encouragement of fellow parishioners who assured me it was one of the easiest plants to care for, I splurged and spent the $3 to make it my own.
It hadn’t spent more than a week or two in my sunroom before it lost its beautiful luster. Again I called my mom, who has a certain knack and passion for growing plants. While my husband and I were in Italy for two weeks, she was kind enough to take not only our children into her home, but my plants also.
After some time at Grandma’s, everyone was thriving! I took my transformed plants back with a renewed vigor for keeping them alive.
Some internet research told me that part of my problem was letting the plant dry out too much in between, so I started keeping the soil consistently damp. This seemed to help.
I experimented with different locations in the sunroom. It does get a lot of sun, but it also gets pretty cold in the winter, especially by the windows. More progress was made.
Finally one day, my attentiveness paid off: a single pink bloom was adorning my clover!
I immediately snapped a photo and sent it to my mom with the caption, “My clover is blooming! I CAN grow something!”
I was feeling validated, ready to show off to my husband that I could grow something in our house. But then my mom’s reply came through:
“Of course you can grow something. Just look at your beautiful family.”
Well. That stopped me in my tracks.
She was so right, and it was remarkable to hear that feedback. Any feelings I had about my ability or lack thereof to grow greenery was immediately overwhelmed by a warm appreciation for my family and pride in my children.
There are many things I am good at, but I don’t really wish to do. There are of course things I am NOT good at, but wish I was, with growing plants being one of many.
And isn’t it funny? Maybe this is just human nature in general, but it seems to me that women especially get an idea in our heads about how something has to be, or it’s not good enough.
A good mom would be taking the time to do more macaroni art with her kids, and she would actually like it!
A mom who cared about her child’s development would have crafted those homemade flash cards from Pinterest, and her kids would have them memorized by now!
A truly nurturing mother would bake bread and grow plants, even starting those tomato seedlings in egg cartons in March.
As ridiculous as it seems, there was a part of me that was equating my lack of plant growing prowess with an inadequacy to nurture my children. I wanted to be the perfect employee, the perfect mom, the perfect wife, and the perfect homemaker, all at the same time. Sounds more like perfect failure.
I am so much easier on myself now. I focus on what I want to do, what I enjoy doing, and sure, those things that NEED to be done too (I’m looking at you, dishes and laundry).
Growing plants? Sure, if I enjoy it. But just because it seems like a prerequisite for fostering a warm home environment doesn’t mean I’m a failure if I don’t.
I think my family would agree that a warm home environment is better kept when there’s a happy, fulfilled mama at the helm. A flowering clover is just a bonus.
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It’s been an idyllic summertime experience. It has brought me joy and even made me love my children more, to see them running and laughing and enjoying the simplicity of childhood. When I see the viral posts saying how we need to “give our kids a 1970′s summer” again, I just shake my head. Regardless of the decade, everything we need for a perfect summer is within us.
In a book I was recently reading, the author referenced a Facebook post that was going around a few years ago. In it, Facebook users were prompted to share a list of (somewhat random) things about themselves. Things their closest online friends might not know about them, but maybe should.
The author used it as an opportunity to pull back the facade on her life and be vulnerable with experiences from her past, feelings in her present, and fears of her future that most people didn’t realize about her. It resonated with all who read it, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
It occurred to me that I could make a list for my children. 15 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Me.
When I am laughing with my daughter on the floor as she pretends I’m her baby, watching the joy unfold on my middle son’s face as I “fly” him on my feet, or feeling the comfort of my oldest son’s arms around me at bedtime, sometimes my mind will think, “I should take a picture of this.”