Wednesday, July 18, 2007

To Love and To Nurture.

As an adolescent, I would frequently exclaim that I was not going to have children when I grew up. I appreciated that other people wanted them, needed them, and looked forward to devoting their every living moment to them, but that wasn’t going to be me.

A decade later, I was living an urban life with my husband when I suddenly got the overwhelming desire to have a child. After a lifetime of convincing myself that I would never be a mother, I now had to convince myself that I would not ruin this poor kid. Nurturing seemed to be so alien a concept to me, but it was going to have to become my focus.

Now I am a mother of two, and am often told that I am very good at mothering. I recently began to question where the desire to nurture was developed in my childhood. It now occurs to me where my tendency to dote and nurture had grown.

My first garden was put together with my father and sister in the desert, when I was six years old. My next one was near a neighborhood swimming hole in Louisiana. That was soon followed by a small garden in our trailer park there. Back in the desert, a year later, I didn’t have a garden so I found an empty wash and planted rows of corn. I carried buckets of water to the wash daily. By that August I had tall stalks in which to sit and daydream.

Many gardens followed those first attempts. By the time my first daughter was two years old I had my first large and successful garden. Hours were spent helping each plant reach its fullest potential. Patience, awareness, care, passion, advocacy and consistency were skills that I certainly learned among these plants.

My garden has been neglected this year because of so many conflicting family obligations. Here it is, late July, and I am only now ready to pick up where I left off last April. As I walk in and out of the now undefined rows I start to recognize the many baby sprouts, the many adolescent plants and the few mature plants all growing amongst a bevy of weeds. I suddenly have terrible pangs of regret, remorse and disdain.

All of the nurturing, the doting, the pride and the serenity that a mother feels was readily available to me with each passing gardening cycle. Starting with that first garden, and following through every year, I honed my parenting skills without being aware of it. I still have much to learn and to strive to be a better parent every day.

Now I recognize that my pastime is not a waste of time, but a necessity for the growth of my ability to love and to nurture. I look forward to repairing my garden today and perhaps learn a little more about my self and my children.

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