Thursday, June 24, 2010


I have a black thumb. Anything I plant dies. Luckily my husband takes charge of the garden each year.

Still, I have a love of vibrant flowers. I enjoy having pots of flowers in spring and summer, but I have to keep replacing them because I keep killing them. I just don't seem to comprehend the delicate balance of water, sun and fertilizer needed to keep them alive.

This is not due to lack of attention. I check on them several times each day. In fact, I think I might be over watering and over feeding them. Basically, I hover, paranoid that they will die right before my eyes if I don't DO SOMETHING.

As the years have gone by I have learned a thing or two. Now the flowers last at least a week before dying. This is what I have learned: Don't water or feed too much! Basically, "don't hover." It seems they grow and flourish on their own most of the time. They don't need a lot of anxious attention from well-meaning me.

So, you can guess my metaphor. I have also come to know that children are like flowers. To flourish and grow, they need the right balance of water, food, sleep and sunshine. They need parents. But, they also need to be left alone to make their own decisions. They need to find their own light. They need to struggle and roam and find their own water and nourishment. Whenever I "hover" they shrink and become petty, angry, selfish, bored. Basically, they die.

This is why, whenever I leave the children in my husband's care, they have a marvelous time. He does his thing and isn't too worried as long as there is no blood on the carpet. They learn and grow and "duke it out" as they find their own way. Whenever I return from a long absence, everyone is perfectly calm and happy.

So, as I struggle each year to keep my flowers alive, I realize how very much my garden of children need me to love them, but also at times, leave them to their own experience.

"A gardener is what I am,
a simple and honest man,
I reap and sow,
I make things grow,
and do the best I can."

-the Gardner (Christ) from "The Garden" by Michael McLean