An empty garden bed or a patch of unused lawn: these are my paint palettes. Oh, I’ve tried my hand at watercolours. I’m no Monet, though I actively collect his prints. I have tried pencil drawing, and will likely spend more time in this meditative art when my children require less of me. In an attempt at a self-portrait, my drawing instructor said I could be more gracious with myself: You clearly do not look that old. One day though, I will be that old, and I’ll be able to look back and reflect on my prophetic ability to predict wrinkles (they are already written on my face).
A garden bed, though, I see with my minds’ eye. I also see loads of Pinterest pics and have a pretty good sense of my English garden preferences. If I’m uncertain, I can walk down the driveway to see organized disorder in my British-originated, Oxford-trained neighbour’s garden to inspire me.
I need not spend hundreds of dollars hiring a landscape architect or gardener, when I find it most inspiring myself. I’ll leave that money for the rescuing of a computer crash or anything related to a plumbing tool. Cicero said it best: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need“.
Much like gardening, an art and a science (aka botany), parenting is a palette. Kinda like gardening, you think you know the bloom colour, how far it’ll spread, whether it’ll thrive in the hours of sunlight you provide. It’ll green in that location, but not flower. Or it takes over the garden. Or it dies, but why? No one can say for sure.
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”. Can I extend Forest Gump’s quote to the unpredictable personality that zooms from the womb as independent and self-reliant, or shy and cautious, or gregarious and entertaining? You don’t know what’s coming out of you really, despite the ultrasound commentary on gender.
Much like parenting, you’re given an unused plot and you’re told, here you go, grow something. Never have you grown anything before, but now you’re on. People give you hints, but they’re unaware of the idiosyncrasies of your plant, its location, its needs. And so are you. So you will learn as you go. The hard way, sometimes, as you pull up weeds that you discover you shouldn’t have pulled. Overfertilizing, realizing you’ve pampered and required too little. Underfertilizing, realizing they need more time and attentive listening. You know where to get the seed, but you don’t know what nutrition is required, nor do you always have it within you to give. The ultimate discovery, you have to grow with your garden.
Still, you keep growing, keep weeding, keep nurturing.
“A garden requires patient labour and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them“.
Liberty Hyde Bailey