In the absence of having as many children growing in my house I have returned to my roots and begun growing plants again. I used to have a house full of plants but as the babies arrived the plants became more and more neglected until they became like an Agatha Christie novel, “and then there were none”. It seems I can’t grow plants and children at the same time. Which is worrisome given my renewed green thumb and the fact I have one child still at home. It stands to reason she may be in jeopardy at this point.
I have been devoting my efforts at growing succulents, the en vogue thick leafy colorful small plant variety that store their water in their leaves. Succulents are fussy little devils if you don’t live in an arid climate or if you are trying to grow them indoors. Too much water and they die. Not enough water and their water bearing leaves shrivel and die, leaving you with a leafless stump which mocks you until you pluck it out of the dirt in anger only to discover the roots are strong and viable.
Unlike my parenting it has take several failed attempts to arrive at a basic understanding of what these plants need to survive. Not that my parenting was stellar but I did manage to keep the humans alive. Botany, agriculture, horticulture, sciences on the art of growing stuff, would be good education for me, I just prefer the trial and error method. Either way, there is deep satisfaction to knowing that you were able to keep something alive and sustainable by your efforts and wisdom.
However, the difference between raising children and plants is marked. I can control the environment of my plants. I control the temperature, the light the water, the quality of the soil and even select the quality of the seeds or plants that I choose to grow. I even get the PICK the plants I want to grow.
Children, however, are given to us as a mysterious blessing. We don’t get to pick the personality, nature, emotions or makeup of the children we are blessed with, even if they are adopted. God gives them what they need and endows them with their personalities and characteristics that make the unique to all other humans on the planet. We don’t get to fully control the affairs of the world, the environment, the social toxins and changing landscape of morality and politics in the world. We are stewards of our children to help them navigate these complexities but we are not in control of them. And should they go “astray” we aren’t allowed to pluck them out of the dirt and repot them into new material, just because we don’t like the way they are growing.
However, the blessing of being a parent and watch children grow, mature, live into the fullness of who they has no competition in the growing of plants. The work is great but the personal reward for a job well done is greater.
I love my plants and am enjoying rediscovering the beauty of careful, patient applied science to watch them thrive. But I love being a mom. Thanks Emily, Alex, Brittany and Taryn for being way more fun than houseplants and for giving my heart joy. You are an every day blessing from God to me and give me hope for a bright future.