Last Updated on March 20, 2018

When Dennis and I had been married about five years, I decided I needed to spruce up the back door entrance to our little yellow post–WWII cottage with two pots of red geraniums. My mother had grown geraniums and lots of other plants and flowers in the years I was growing up and it seemed easy for her, so I made the assumption I could do it, too. I failed.

But I didn’t give up.

We moved out to the country around year 11 of our marriage journey. We inherited a blank canvas in our back yard and a very rough initial drawing in our front yard. It was bleak and ugly, and I’m not a fan of ugly. I like beauty. And so I began to weed and dig and move hundreds of rocks (our town is aptly named, Little Rock!) to find soil that would grow something blooming. Over the years my husband began to join me as I needed his help, and because he wanted to be where I was. Bless him.

However, what began as my attempt to tame the wild and beautify my surroundings became something completely different. As our six kids grew and their needs multiplied like the rocks on our property, I began to realize that I loved being outside because I could weed a flower bed and it would stay neat for over a week! I could create a new arrangement in one area of the yard with a rock border and it would not only stay that way, it would flourish!

Gardening began to feed my soul. By contrast, I’d do the laundry and there’d be more the next day. I’d spend lots of time making a meal and it was gone in 10 minutes with no thanks and often griping about some ingredient some child hated. I’d clean a room and it would return to chaos in hours. It felt futile. But gardening gave me some hope that my work would remain. Gardening became therapy for me and for my husband. The kids hated it and wouldn’t come near for fear we’d put them to work, which we often did. If we wanted to be alone, we knew we could count on them staying away for at least 15 minutes and we could talk while we weeded.

Now that the kids are gone my need for therapy has abated. My work in the garden is now maintenance of what we created over those years with a focus on upgrading the places of beauty as the seasons change.

Mothering is such thankless work, but it is supremely important and is not for the faint of heart. To all who are called by that noble name, I encourage you to garden for sanity or find some other creative or intellectual outlet that uses the gifts God gave you to maintain balance and wholeness as you raise your kids. And someday, when the kids are gone, you’ll be primed for a new adventure!

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One Comment

  1. Yes! I do exactly this.. I love it! Infact, my husband and I both love it! It has been so fun to find something we both have in common and love to do…and like Barbara said, it is so very rewarding. The kids will often times, play, ride their bikes, look for bugs or climb trees…or pick flowers.