Mother’s Day Reflections: Gardening Like Mom

MAY 13

Mother's Day has always been one of my mom's favorite holidays. For twenty-four hours, my mom does not need to lift a finger unless she feels so inclined. Her garden to-do-list is handed off to my dad, my two sisters, my brother and me. Rain or shine, we set out to work in the yard while she watches (cold beverage in hand) by the pool. This lasts for about all of twenty minutes. She cannot help herself. "Move that there, hold the shovel like this, that's not a weed," she interjects (cold beverage long forgotten). The truth is she is the only true gardener in our family. Without her guidance, we seem to make a mess of her landscape vision. So, despite our best intentions, Mother's Day turns out to be like any other weekend in the garden for my mom. What makes this her favorite day is that we are all there with her.

Growing up, my mom and I spent most weekends in the garden together. My sisters also worked along side us, but somehow my brother and dad managed to escape; "manly" tasks had to be taken care of elsewhere - usually. But, because I thought it was the best way to work on a tan, I stayed outside with my mom. Work boots on, white socks pulled to mid-shin, over-sized plaid shorts, white tank top, no gloves, shovel in hand, my mom attacked her to-do-lists with an intensity I have yet to see be matched. Edging, weeding, planting, transplanting, raking, mulching, pruning…she did it all. And each task came with a lesson: The sweat from lugging wheel barrows of mulch, the blisters from raking, and the pain that creeps up from the hamstrings to the lower back after hours of weeding…that builds character. Waiting for that newly planted butterfly bush to reach six feet tall…that's patience. Trying out a new plant variety…that's not being afraid to take a chance. Transplanting an azalea from one spot to another…that's giving something a second chance. Pruning rose bushes and weeding out crabgrass…well that's just a pain in the you know what, and life is full of them. Clipping beautiful blossoms for a seasonal bouquet…that's reaping what you sow.

I grew to love being in the garden with my mom. Witnessing our yard gradually become an oasis was so gratifying. I learned a lot too, things about perennials and shrubs, bugs and worms, soils and seeds, and more importantly, things about life. Even though I now have my own yard to work in, every Mother's Day I show up at my parents' house. I make my mom a cold beverage, hand it to her and head off into gardens with the rest of my family. I know it won't belong before she shows up, shovel in hand, ready work, ready to teach, ready to transform.