(Originally published Sept, 2007. Although it's not yet gardening season around here, I get to spend lots of time this weekend putting my creative energies into some thing more immediately gratifying than mothering. It will be a nice break :)
Judah is in a rough stage right now. I'm pretty sure he's teething and he's getting a bit beyond two naps a day, but not quite ready for just one. So evenings are... tense, to say the least. And this evening was particularly bad-- partly because Jeremiah had to work late, so I ended up having to teach with both kids here. To illustrate, let me just say that the evening ended with Judah biting me just as I finished nursing him before bed. That was pretty much the culmination of the rest of things. So, because he is a wonderful husband and very understanding of this tendency of mine to fall apart at the end of a rough day, Jeremiah put Sofi to bed while I went out to water my garden.
I love gardening. I really do. Sitting on my bench in my pocket garden in the evenings, watching the sunset through the maple tree, and listening to the water trickling over the rocks of the pond calms my nerves and renews my spirit. This is partly because of the general effect that nature always has on me and partly because my gardening provides me with an opportunity to see permanent order and beauty as a result of my labor. Well, comparatively permanent, anyway.
See, I have this problem. I have a need to see some result from my daily labor. I don't do too well if a day goes by and all that I accomplish is the basic household chores and duties. I feel like I need to leave some sort of mark on the day-- a testament to the worth-while-ness of the time I spent in that day. This is a problem when you have children. Children tend not to be conducive to rewarding monuments of one's selfworth. Or rather, they are in and of themselves a veeery long-term monument and a rather shaky bet at that, considering all the variables of a life. Children are, in fact, black holes of a sort, that suck in all the labor of a day and return very little that you can, at the end of the day, point to and say "I have accomplished thus and so today".
I'm being brutally honest here, so no comments about how can I say such a thing about my own children and don't I find motherhood a rewarding life. The truth is that motherhood is very often exhausting and somewhat discouraging in the short-term. Don't get me wrong, there are moments of unparalleled delight and I wouldn't trade my life at home with my children for any high-paying, self-fulfilling career.
But the truth of the matter is that God didn't give us children for our own self-fulfillment. And technically, they're only on loan for a little while. Our calling while we have them with us is to sacrifice our desires and "fulfillment" for their good. Our goal is their good, not our own.
But I still have this need to justify my existence by creating something of beauty or use each day that will out-live the next days meals (washing dishes) and play outside (laundry) and muddy shoes (vacuuming) and clutter of life (tidying, putting away, etc).
So I garden. But then there's always weeds....