Many of us learned, at a fairly early age, that plants, animals, and humans need some basic things to grow – sun, air, and water. What we didn’t learn at this tender young age is the fine art of that mix. Too much sun? Dead. Too much water? Dead. Wrong kind of air? Dead.
Right now I’m growing some basil in a pot on my kitchen counter. I should have said attempting to grow. Rescued from a clearance cart at Aldi’s, this basil plant has had an Oliver Twist existence of thriving and nearly dying. Finding that fine balance between over watering and under watering hasn’t been easy. If only life were a bit more like a video game. Then I would get a fancy indicator light that’s like “heads up, basil dying if you don’t water in the next day!”
But life is infinitely more complex than that. So, by trial and error, I attempt to keep the poor thing alive. Some days I wonder why I keep trying to grow my own plants. With everything going on in our family and the endless projects and to do lists – plant keeping is nearly impossible. The struggle is most definitely real.
Then again. This week we made spaghetti, one of our host son’s favorite meals, and some of the fresh leaves graced the dish. Watching his eyes follow me as I picked the leaves and dropped them in reminded me why. Because of the joys of having something fresh. It’s worth the struggle.
Parenting is a lot like trying to grow my basil plant. It’s complex. There’s no rules, handbook, or indicator light to say “give more of this!” Yet, like the basil plant, when done right there’s amazing growth.
There are times when I go to bed at night wondering if I did the right thing or not. Too stern? Too gentle? Drowning my kid or starving him? With our host son in the mix, I’ve learned how much a kid (even a teenager) craves attention and love. There’s a light that shines every time I admire or praise.
Before our host son came, I took my husband to see the Mr. Rogers documentary. The care and compassion Mr. Rogers had for children and their feelings impressed me. Much like the plant thing, I think most of us know what helps make a child grow up well, but understanding the delicate balance is hard. Mr. Rogers seemed to grasp it easier than most of us. One of the most important lesson? Kids are just like us.
So I keep watering with kind words, wedding with some discipline, and shining light through teaching. Do I get it wrong? Yes. But, many times, just like your garden, if you just show up—things will grow.
About the author: Tabitha Grace Challis
Tabitha is a social media strategist, writer, blogger, and professional geek. Among her published works are the children’s books Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and Machu the Cat is Very Hungry, both published under the name Tabitha Grace Smith. A California girl (always and forever) she now lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a collection of cats, dogs, and chickens. Find out more about her on her Amazon author page or follow her on Twitter: @Tabz.