Every year I’m inclined to plant a vegetable garden. I begin with hopefulness and resolution. I plan what I want to grow, and dream indulgently about the armloads of produce I’ll collect by the end of the season.
Our family designates a weekend in May, and then we get out the gardening tools and till up the soil. We labor over hoeing straight rows, then we empty the paper seed packets as we carefully space each tiny seed out in the soil.
And then….well…it gets too hot, or too humid, or I’m pregnant, or there’s a mosquito plague. The weeds grow faster than the vegetables, and pretty soon I can’t tell where our straight rows of produce went.
Fascinatingly, I keep planting a garden every year! I keep fighting the weeds every year, but there’s something in me that just can’t give up on this idea. Each year, the possibility of a different outcome woos me to try again.
I was thinking and thinking about why I do this. Why do I keep planting when I don’t know if it will actually work?
I think I plant because I know the outcome if I don’t plant – nothing will grow. That is certain.
So each year finds me planting again. Watering again. Weeding again. All in hopes that it might produce something of worth.
Isn’t that parenting?
We keep going day after day, week after week, year after year. We encounter new challenges as our kids enter each new stage, and we keep reading and learning and shaping and loving. We keep pouring into our kids, not certain of the outcome, but doing so regardless because that’s what we do as parents. We know the outcome of doing nothing – the weeds will grow up and swallow the potential that these little ones are capable of.
So we pick up our tired bodies. We ready the soil of their hearts. We carefully choose the seeds that are right for each kid, and then we plant. We work to remove the things that don’t belong and the things that would hinder. We pour out our love to nurture them.
And then? Then we step back and watch them grow.