Monday, July 20

a metaphor

This summer is my third year attempting to grow a garden.  The first two summers went relatively well given my lack of experience, but this year is not going well at all.  I did the same things I always do: till the ground, plant the seeds, water the plants, weed the garden.  But within weeks little shoots of grass and weeds began popping up everywhere in my garden.  And I mean EVERYWHERE.  I'm not sure where they're coming from, someone suggested that its from the secondary water I'm using to water.  I tried to keep up, but that grass grows faster than I can weed.  Eventually I gave up on weeding between rows and unused portions of the garden and decided to just weed immediately around the plants.  I've tried using a weed-wacker to knock them down, I've tried laying grass clippings on them in an attempt to smother them, and of course I've tried uprooting them all.  Nothing works.  They are very persistent weeds. 

We've been out of town for the last 10 days, and when I came home last night I was filled with equal parts dread and excitement at the chance to look at my garden. 

Now you can understand the dread.  I went to bed feeling totally overwhelmed with that mess in my backyard.

Then this afternoon, after a long, loud morning with the kids, I went out to take a picture of the garden because it's just that terrible.  As I stood there staring at it, I realized that what I was staring at was a perfect representation of how I feel like life with my kids has been lately.  So I posted it to Instagram, as you do, with a caption that said, "If I could capture in a picture what I feel like raising my kids has been like lately, it would look like this picture of my "garden" (which hardly deserves the name garden). Wild, daunting, overwhelming, and hard to spot the good through the bad.  If only I could figure out how to remove the 'weeds' in family life so we could all thrive a little more."

Kids, lately, are hard.  They fight...A LOT.  They cry, they whine, they make bad choices, they make big messes, and they challenge me beyond what I feel like I'm capable of.  I'm not sure what's changed, but it definitely feels like things have been worse lately and I've struggled a lot in finding the joy in motherhood when everything feels like this.  I know there's joy to be had, I just have to let it grow stronger and taller than the "weeds".

The fact of the matter is, I'm good with messy and I like things a little wild.  I don't do neat and orderly, no matter how much I think I want to--it's just not me.  And maybe it's not my kids either.  Maybe I'm pushing us all to be things we aren't.  Maybe it's okay if they're loud, or if all their clothes are either stained or ripped, or they make huge messes because they are thinking huge creative things.  Maybe they need more "fun mom" and less "clean the house mom".  More one on one listening time, and less nagging time.  I don't know, I'm just thinking out loud here.  Doing a little mental "weeding" if you will.  How does a mom to spirited kids let them be spirited without giong crazy?  How do you direct them in the right ways wihtout controlling them and squashing their spirits?  These are the things I pray about constantly, but I still don't have the answers.  Writing about it sure helps though, and remembering that its okay to not be perfect.  In fact, its okay to be very far from perfect as long as my intentions are good.

So here I sit, with two weed patches on my hands, one literal and one metaphorical. I might just have to give up on one of those weed patches for now and let the weeds take over, so that I can give my attention to the other weed patch.

But that's okay, I can always get my produce from the store.

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