It is so cold and miserable. I honestly have not seen the road in front of my house since Christmas Day. I went hunting for a video I know I took one hot, summer day for the express purpose to watch on a cold, winter day. I found one of the dog rolling around on the sprinkler which was fun to watch but not quite what I needed. Turns out, the video I wanted wasn't really what I needed.
I needed to be reminded to not take myself so seriously. I needed to be reminded that I don't have to try to control everything in my environment or my children's environment. I needed to be reminded that Someone Else, bigger than me, wiser than me, and kinder than me is watching out for all of us. I needed to be reminded that of a wise General, Stonewall Jackson, summarized it in one statement, "Never take counsel from fear."
If you want to believe it was serendipity that I stumbled upon this essay I posted in 2009, feel free to do so. I think I was a conduit for giving myself counsel nearly four years later. I also stumbled upon another piece of writing that is giving me some peace during a tumultuous time of parenting and life, an address given to a college on graduation day this past December, Fear Not, I Am With Thee.
Here are my sunflowers and a divine design:
The sunflowers are definitely the crowning glory of the garden this year. It amazes me, actually. Out of dirt grew something I planted and it's 12 ft. high and has the circumference of a tree. I want to take credit for having such an amazing sunflower garden. In fact, if the Roma tomatoes turn red at the same time and I am busy canning, I want to take credit for that, too.
The truth is that I bought the sunflower seeds on a whim. I saw them and thought they'd be fun for the kids to watch grow. I planted them and left them alone. I let the sprinklers water them and planted them in the sun. When the bugs got really bad, I sprayed them a little bit when I was spraying the vegetables. That's it. And now I am deemed the Sunflower Queen.
So that started me thinking about how kids turn out. If I hover over them and try to control every little thing they do, will it really do any good? If I don't worry about the small stuff and they don't turn in their homework and don't develop excellent reading skills by the third grade will they really end up in prison by the age of 16? If I yell sometimes, make mistakes, and feed them candy after 9:00 at night will it really matter if it all ends up as a tell-all on a therapist's couch in the near future?
If I am the perfect mother who never raises her voice and enforces natural consequences and teaches my children to eat with their mouths closed and never make rude noises using their hands and armpits, am I really guaranteed that they will never fail? If I teach them to pray, study their scriptures, be kind to others, will they never experience disappointment and heartbreak?
Is there a chance that children come already encoded with who they are and just need fertile ground and an occasional watering? How does a mother judge success in mothering? With so many variables, how can a parent take credit for a child being a success story or blame for a child choosing to engage in illegal behavior? Can we really believe that we can control the way our child turns out? Can we really control every mitigating circumstance?
In the same garden as the sunflowers are my woeful cucumbers. I planted three plants. One came up. Same soil. Same sun. Same water. Wax beans were spotty but the good plants are great producers. Success or failure? What did I do to grow any of it?
My children have a home with parents that love them to pieces. Sometimes they know it, sometimes they don't. They have food to eat - both healthy and not so much. They also have parents who are imperfect (except for Mr. Taylor, that is) but who want them to be happy and strong, trying so hard to control the environment so that part will be nurtured and grow. Will it? I don't know. I have 18 short years to shove all my experience and wisdom into their little brains. Problem is, I'm still learning. They are my guinea pigs.
I'm just going to have to trust their encoding and variables I can't control. I'm going to have to trust their systems are wired to adapt and learn. Like the sunflowers, they will turn their faces to the Sun for nourishment and healing.
I also hope they are forgiving and see good intention.