Motherhood is a Garden

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When I think of gardens my mind still gravitates toward the wild, rambling imagery from one of my favorite childhood novels, The Secret Garden. When they first stumble upon the locked and abandoned garden it is overgrown and unruly. But by the time they’re done with it, it’s an efflorescent wonderland, teeming with flowers of every kind. 

There’s so much work that goes into a garden. And each one has a different starting point. Some gardens are a blank canvas, primed and ready to plant. Others require a bit of gentle cultivation and coaxing. No garden starts in exactly the same spot as the others. But all gardens need the same things in order to thrive. 

The soil matters

As any gardener will tell you, good soil is key. You have to have good soil if you want a good harvest. It has to be rich in nutrients and minerals. It also has to be the right soil for the types of flowers or plants you want to grow. By tending to the soil first you’ll ensure that your garden is able to take root. The cultivation of soil and cultivation of motherhood are connatural, not merely analogical, activities. What holds true for the soil—that you must give it more than you take away—also holds true for parenting, relationships, and friendships.

Welcome the rain

Look at life’s circumstances not as inconveniences or intrusions but as enrichment to your soil. The tough times can bring growth, and even beauty, to your life. Prioritize the things in your garden that matter most. And, like a flower, you will be happier living when the rain comes because you will have the roots and support system to weather the storm and rebound resiliently.

A garden requires patience and optimism. 

Patience is hard when you can’t see the seeds taking root beneath the ground, but we have to trust that what we planted will eventually see the light of day. And just when we think nothing is happening, little sprouts will begin to emerge—small signs that a harvest is coming. 

At some point, you are going to fail.

And that’s okay! A "successful" garden is a misnomer. There is no such thing as 100 percent success in cultivating a garden. When you are dealing with nature, there are no guarantees. Every year in the garden is a circle of successes and even more failures. It’s an experiment that takes place over and over again to find the right formula, and often there isn’t one. What worked one year might not work the next. And isn't that also true of raising little humans?

As you become a mother, there’s a new hope that creeps into your heart just as softly as flowers bloom in the garden. This spring, may we grow more attuned to the seasons of our hearts. Let’s accept earth’s invitation to spend more time in the sunlight. We will tend to this one wild life like a garden teeming with growing things. We will embrace the dirt underneath our fingernails from clawing out space for beauty and sustenance to take place. We will plant roots climbing down deep with every green breath—watering daily, pruning when needed, picking when ripened. Never taking without giving.

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