Why Springtime Reminds Me of Motherhood

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I never cease to be amazed that even in the coldest part of winter, often when the days seem the darkest, new life is still taking place outside in my flower bed. What appears to be a dead, decaying mess actually contains a secret treasure buried just below the surface, waiting to burst forth and announce that spring has arrived.

When I moved into my home one warm April day, there was no sign of spring flowers growing in the yard. Not one flowerbed existed; only a few flowering bushes graced the edge of the yard. Planning to beautify my new yard, I dug out the iris bulbs from our previous front yard. Purple, orange, white, and yellow irises were about the only thing my brown thumb could successfully grow. These had been handed down to me from my grandmother’s garden, along with some peonies that I very quickly killed.

Over the next few months, we prepared a spot and lovingly placed each bulb, covering them with soil, and anticipating the next year when we could once again enjoy their beauty. Summer passed, and gave way to a very cold, snowy winter that first year. Early in January, I looked out in the yard to see small green shoots coming up all around the fence line. Unbeknownst to me, the previous owner had planted yellow daffodil bulbs throughout the yard. Each year since, this hidden treat continues to be my first clue that spring is quickly approaching.

Over the years, the bulbs have grown and multiplied many times. I have dug them up, broken the clumps apart, and replanted the little brown treasures in lots of different places around the house. The eruption of color so early in the year is often followed by another winter storm or two. These resilient flowers will freeze for days, only to thaw, stand tall again and continue to share their sunny yellow cheer.

Mothers, like daffodils, often remind me just how resilient they are. Standing deep in the winter of motherhood can be a dark place that is dirty and messy. Things may look as bleak as our dead gardens; our hearts begin to fill with self-doubt.

“Am I doing this motherhood thing right?”

“Am I giving my children what they need to be decent humans?”

“Will the values that I hold dear be passed onto my kids?”

“Will my children grow up, break through the debris of life, and cling to what is good and right?”

Raising children is not for the faint of heart, requiring both back-breaking labor and endurance. It takes a lot of nurturing, planting seeds, watering them, not only with love but also with wisdom. Sometimes it requires pruning in ways that seem to hurt us even more than our children. Removing activities, friends, and belongings that can distract our children from their true purpose and path in life. Often we have to graft in things that we want to take root in their lives, much as a master gardener grafts different plants onto a strong and sturdy root.

This type of growth also requires knowing when to leave them alone and let them grow silently below the surface, until they burst forth with a glorious display of color that makes any gardener…um…mother proud.

As a mom to 9 children, the colors that I hope my children will develop are ones of kindness, compassion, and love for their fellow humans. Brilliant colors that attract people from all walks of life who stop and admire the beauty of a life lived to encourage others. A bright spot in an otherwise dark and dreary world.

What colors of life do you hope your children develop? Any tips for how you are nurturing that dream as you wait for it to grow?

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