Moms as Gardeners: Intentionally Reaping What You Sow

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a backyard gardenI am a gardener!

Every year, for the past three years, my children and I go into our backyard and decide what we want to plant. We pick a spot, dig up the ground, and plant. We go out daily to water, to observe, and to try to protect what we have planted. For three years, we have only been able to grow cilantro!

For three years, all our hard work ends up being a garnish on a burrito.

We haven’t given up yet, mainly because gardening is fun. We enjoy the outdoors. I enjoy all that I’ve learned so far despite our failure to grow a substantial crop. Meanwhile, my kids enjoy digging up worms.

One of the things that I’ve learned while gardening is that March is the time to get started. Usually, we wait until May to even start thinking about our garden. Another thing is that the soil you use and the environment you choose really make a difference. The most important thing, though, is that it’s not about how we plant or about how hard we watch, but often it’s about consistency.

In a way, gardening is a lot like parenting.

Just like I don’t know how children are made in the womb, I don’t have a clue how to grow a good garden. But I’ve learned some things along the way.

Just like a garden, I think the earlier you plan for greatness, the better. Get those seeds ready in March. That way, if anything goes wrong, you have a better chance of correcting it with a second plant in May. If you wait until May to plant, you might only have one chance at it. Things might go well, or they might not.

It is wise to be intentional about raising children. Just like a crop, you really don’t know what you will get. Children are as different as the varieties of crops to plant. While we do our best to raise them, there are so many other factors that play a part – the environment, the climate, and chance, quite honestly. So be intentional about what you can, and as kids grow, they will be conditioned for greatness.

a black and white photo of an African American boy standing in a garden, with his arms outstretched and a smile on his face

Also, like a garden, where you plant the seeds makes a difference. Different seeds thrive in different environments. We must know what type of crop we are growing to know the best environment in which to grow the seed. Some seeds grow best in dry air and great heat, while others need cooler environments with lots of rain. In the same way, parents set the tone for our children. We create the environments that control whether our kids get the nutrients and enrichment they need.  

However, the most important thing I’ve learned in growing a good garden is consistency.

Consistently watering day after day. Consistently working the land year after year. Consistently learning more season after season. Y’all, I struggle. I’m so good at poking a hole in the ground, dropping in a seed, and hoping for rain. Believing that because the plant is in the ground that my work is done – which is why I only get cilantro.

No shade to cilantro, but it’s not going to feed these kids. If I want to make my labor worthwhile, I need to eventually produce something of substance. One of my biggest mistakes is not being consistent.

I don’t tend to water my garden daily. I don’t protect my crops from critters, lawnmowers, and other elements. Honestly, sometimes I don’t even go look in that area of my backyard. I can do better.

Fortunately, I’m not this lazy with my children. Mom confession: I have thought, “Okay, I’ve gotten them to 3 and 5; they should have life figured out by now.” It’s just a thought. I know they are still learning.

There are many other similarities between gardening and life. But how ironic the many similarities between gardeners and parents. Of the many thoughts on parenting, I always thought gardener was the most relevant. I don’t think it’s my job to make their personalities, they will be who they are, but it’s my job to make sure they have the best chance at life. To be intentional with them at an early age, to give them an environment in which to thrive, and to love on them consistently.

So, this year, as we garden, I will take a few tips from moms and show my plants a little more love and consistency. I might sing to them, probably not. But maybe if I put half of the love into my garden that I put into my children, we can eat a little better this year.

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