The life lessons that come from pulling weeds are both beautifully simplistic and deep rooted.
A few weeks ago, I was out in the backyard, pushing one of my boys on the swing set when my next-door neighbor approached me at the fence. We talked small talk for a while, and then he pointed at the growing weeds around me and said, “those are getting a little bit out of control, aren’t they?” I was utterly embarrassed. I pride myself on keeping a pretty neat and tidy house, and since the COVID upheaval, the backyard has since turned into a bit of a jungle.
Over the next few days, I spent time each morning tackling different areas of the yard, and here is what I learned:
Take it one weed at a time.
This might sound redundant, but with everything going on in our world and personal lives, it is worth repeating. The first morning I walked into the backyard, I was overwhelmed. There was just too much to pull. I couldn’t even begin to think about the other parts of the yard – the bushes that needed pruning and the front bed that needed re-mulching. I was reminded of the saying, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ … ‘Just one bite at a time.’ So, that became my mantra, just one weed at a time. For the past few months, everything seems overwhelming. Is it just my household, or has the amount of dirty laundry and dishes tripled? The children seem to be louder and less regulated, and the sibling rivalry worse. It’s all just too much. I have learned that if I can just tackle the first thing, the first bite, I can keep going. House looks like a tornado hit it? Just start that one load of laundry. You got it, mama!
Sometimes it’s necessary to get your hands dirty.
When I first started tackling the weeds, I wore my cute little gardening gloves that I bought a year ago and haven’t touched. I thought they would help keep my self-manicured nails halfway decent. Well, it turns out they were worthless. I could never really grab hold of the root; therefore, I was just making more work for myself by ripping the top of the weed off and still having to grab the rest out. I finally took the gloves off and could really go to work.
I came inside each morning, having to scrape the dirt out of my nails. I’ve realized that I tend to want to approach life the same way. I don’t like confrontation, uncomfortable situations make me cringe, and often I just want things to stay wrapped up in their little boxes with a bow. With the social unrest taking place across the country, I finally acknowledged that I needed to get my hands dirty and have some tough conversations with my boys. These were (and will continue to be) not easy, but they are necessary. What weeds are you just ripping at from the top and not getting to the root of? I promise you can get through it, even if you need to get the dirt out from your nails later.
The grass can be green on both sides of the fence.
My neighbor, Ray, who pointed out my growing jungle is an elderly man who lives with his wife, and they have an impeccable yard. He is constantly out there, mowing and pruning at different shrubs and garden areas. We got lucky as they have always been extremely kind and generous neighbors. The mornings I spent bent over and crouched down pulling weeds, I had a new appreciation for connection and community. Ray would come outside each morning with his cup of coffee, stand at the fence, and chat with me.
As we continue to be in this odd limbo as a country with some families still self-quarantining and others venturing out, there is this pull to be making the best/’right’ decision for our families. I have felt a creeping sense of comparison in trying to navigate life and kids during this pandemic. Ray reminded me each morning to get back to the basics. We are all simply doing the best we can, and it might look different for all of us. While Ray’s yard will probably continue to look like it belongs in Home & Garden and realistically mine will continue to be a bit more junglesque, we can still connect and be a support to one another.