If My Parenting is like My Gardening, We are all in Trouble


A guest post by Heidi Dennis


I am a TERRIBLE gardener.  I mean, I am BAD.  I can take that plant that people say “It’s impossible to kill. 

Anyone can do it” and sentence it to immediate death.  It’s like a plant takes one look at me and says, “nope”, then shrivels up and dies.  I see those idyllic pictures of someone tending to their garden and it looks so lovely (not the ones where people’s butts are sticking up in the air.  No- the ones with the cute hats and flowered aprons).  Although, in retrospect, I would probably look more like the one with the butt.  I think the biggest struggle that I have with gardening is my lack of patience.  I once tried to grow a tomato plant (because anyone can do that *eye-roll*).  One day I walked out and it was covered with green worms.  And any tomatoes that it produced had been half eaten (stupid worms &*%@#$.  Those are MY tomatoes!). Like any good plant parent, I googled what to do about it.  The answer?  Manually pick off each worm one by one.  I took one look at the hundreds of worms on my plant and said, “Enjoy your tomato plant, worms.  I’m out”).  

Another way you need patience is when planting seeds.  You plant, water, and wait….and wait….and wait.  And NOTHING SEEMS TO HAPPEN.  Doesn’t parenting feel a lot like that?  You feed them, water them, you plant and toil and weed and…nothing….nada…zip.  You second guess yourself, wondering if you are doing it right.  At times, you see no signs of life.  You think about that idyllic picture with the flowered apron but you feel more like that wooden cut-out with your butt in the air.  

Parenting has 100% felt like this to me.  I google the answers, I read the books, I try this or that and then try this again.  And then I wait to see if what I am doing will work.  It really takes constant tending and daily weeding, doesn’t it?  Some days you see flowers blooming and the fruits of your labor.  Some days you want to say, “Worms, you win.”  It is SO HARD sometimes, isn’t it?  Someone said to me the other day that, with the job of parenting, we don’t get our performance review until 20 years later.  Isn’t that the truth?!?  Sometimes I feel like I am flying blind.  There are days when I’m out there digging up every weed the moment it pops up (I once took my four year old to therapy after he had a bad week at school.  The therapist was like, um, he’s four).  Then there are days when I want to tune everyone out, escape to facebook (guilty as charged), and let them figure it out for themselves.  

No matter what you are finding yourself in, stay the course.  One day all of the weeding and picking worms will pay off.  I also want you to know, sweet mama, that you will NOT knock everyday about of the park- and that’s ok.  I feel SUCH guilt when I have yelled at my child or not reacted in a way that I should.  Please know that it’s ok.  I’ve found that the most powerful thing you can do is circle back and repair.  You will not get every moment perfect, so stop trying to.  That’s an impossible expectation.  Just pull that weed out when you can with some extra owning up and cuddles.  Did you give them an extra hour of IPad or TV time because you needed to regain your sanity?  They will survive.  Did you not read them a bedtime story one night because you used up every last ounce of energy already that day?  They will live.  Did you feed them microwave dinner because you were tapped out?  They will be fine.  And you will be, too.  


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