When we bought our house, which came with an acre of property, it was with the express purpose of having a place to work - to design, to cultivate, to create beauty. And, of course, with the package comes continuous weed-pulling.
We have 5 boys, and we wanted them to learn to “work the land” (OK, no plows or Little House on the Prairie, but you get the picture). We’ve built walls, landscaped, planted, mowed…and pulled weeds.
Since growing up children is, in many ways, like having a garden, we knew we were also in for many years of cultivating, nurturing, watering and weed-pulling. Parental gardening is an unending and, often, wearying task. It is the ultimate expression of self-sacrifice, even with all the attendant joys.
As a parent, you rejoice when you see your kids begin to thrive. You live in hope of strong roots, healthy flowers, good fruit. You envision the day when they will be productive adults, hopefully hard-working, successful, affectionate, and independent. So, you keep pulling weeds along the way. You look for the day when you can sit back in your garden, sip a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and say that (by and large), you got it done somehow.
Right now, the yard outside is looking delightful. A lot of the foundational work has been done over the last 7 years, and we’re enjoying the fruits of our labor. But as I was out pulling weeds again this morning, I couldn’t shake the sense of profound weariness with the troublesome invaders that have infested the hearts of our teens.
I was a teen once (different millennium, but I still remember…). I did boneheaded stuff. I swirled around in self-centered, insecure angst. That insecurity actually drove me to excel. But when a garden actively snuffs out productive plants, and welcomes the choking weeds, how do you help it to grow? When all planting and fertilizing seems to go for naught, what does that say about the soil? The seeds? The gardener?
When a business does not succeed, for whatever reason, you can fold up the tents and move on. Not all business ventures flourish – maybe a mismatch of talent, timing, and territory. But you can’t fire your own kids for a season of “failure to thrive.” And I guess I can’t fire myself either.
How easy to let the exhaustion drain away the will to cultivate. Right now, I can’t see the flowers for the weeds. Are brighter days ahead? Most likely. But if you have a cup of cool water and an encouraging word for a weary fellow gardener, come and sit with me a spell. It’s lonely in the weeds!