Saturday, May 11, 2013

Parenting: We're in the planting phase

Is parenting like growing a garden? Gosh, I hadn't thought of it that way before, but then I read this post at the Nursery of the Nation, and this quote in particular: "You are in the planting phase of motherhood and that requires a lot of weeding."

It makes sense.

I'm a writer, so I love metaphors. This one is particularly good. Gardening is slow and steady work. It takes time and determination. It is physically intense and messy at times.

Till the ground. Plan it out. Make mounds and troughs and rows. Plant the seeds. Water, fertilize, weed, keep prowling bugs and animals away. Lots of waiting and nurturing, working hard day after day after day. And eventually comes the produce. Such joy in that.

The way in which you tend the garden affects the yield of it. You must be diligent and careful.

Parenting -  especially a unique child with challenges like ADHD or anxiety or others - is also slow and steady work. Keep the foundation (which is you, the parent) as well tilled, watered and fertilized as possible. Keep your own self in good standing in all that you do, say and model for them, and keep yourself healthy.

Plant the seeds of what you hope they learn. Love, kindness, patience, compassion, gentleness, faith, honesty, respect, generosity, generousness, persistence, gratitude, graciousness.

Protect them as much as you can from the things in the world that would hurt them. Nurture and teach, then sit back and wait and see what they do with it. If a weed pops up - anger, a lie, a bad word, unhealthy habits, disobedience, defiance - do your best to get it out. And this doesn't just mean the weeds in your child's behavior, it means weeds in your own behavior too.

For this garden is the combination of child and parent. Remember, the parent is the foundation, as well as the water, food and light, and the child is the new seedling. The seedling depends on the soil to nourish it and on the sunlight to guide its direction. And it needs space in which to grow.

We hope and pray these seedlings take hold and grow bigger and stronger and straighter every day until one day they are drooping with fruit and ready to plant seeds of their own :) And I firmly believe this process is aided infinitely by the addition of a solid spiritual faith. That is the richest soil of all.

Parenting is the most difficult and rewarding work we will ever do. And it is work toward something amazing, fruit that will nourish the body of the world someday. I have to fight to keep that goal, that end game, in mind every day as we navigate the weeds, the bugs, the dry spells and the cloudy days. Because already my little seedling is growing strong and beautiful, and we both have a lot of work yet to do.

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