We should start by understanding that I’m not a bad parent or a great gardener. It is more that over time I’ve improved as a gardener, but am stuck with the kind of parent I was during the years my daughter was growing up and in my care. She is now who she is and probably influences my life more than I do hers.
The garden is another matter. It has allowed me time to develop a more holistic approach to the plants, weeds, bugs, worms, bees, and the earth. It has brought me along and taught me lessons, not only about gardening, but about an almost infinite variety of things, including parenting. If I knew then what I know now, it is certain I would have been a better parent.
For years, my horticultural style was very rooted in absolutes: these were flowers and those were weeds; flowers got to stay and weeds had to go. Same thing with insects. If I knew for certain a creature was “good” then it got to stay, otherwise it had to be killed. If in doubt it was a weed or a “bad” bug. Oddly enough, there turned out to be more weeds than flowers, more pests than permit-ables.
This approach came from a belief that my role in the yard was to create order out of chaos, to impose upon my small plot what I wanted to be there. It was as though I were imposing my will upon a blank slate. Except it wasn’t blank. Nature had its own ideas about what should grow and who could live in my little Eden
While never an avid gardener, I was a consistent one. Into my fifties, I battled the back yard until, fortunately, I was rescued by my lovely wife, Kelly. She is an organic holistic gardener. I thought that meant the same kind of gardening but with no pesticides and more bugs. Instead, I slowly and painfully learned it meant letting the garden teach you what it wanted to grow there. Live and let live, for both crawling and blooming beings.
Now, if I see something unfamiliar, I let it grow and find out what it may become. It is amazing how many flowers come up in a patch of grass left to grow wild. Nature didn’t need me to display her miracles, she just needed me out of the way long enough for our acre to reveal itself. Bugs deserve time to reveal themselves, too. You can’t have butterflies if you kill all the caterpillars.
Which brings me back to parenting and how time has revealed to me the benefit of patience and giving a child room to grow into itself. Time for the beauty and purpose of the individual to reveal itself, through encouragement. Too late to correct my parenting past, but just in time to nurture my adult child’s future.
Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident. Thankfully, we do get second chances.