We are in the midst of gardening season here at our homestead, and things are about to get busy! There is always much to do during this season – planting, harvesting, canning & preserving, and lots and lots and LOTS of weeding.
As I headed in to this year’s gardening season, I was struck by how much motherhood is like my garden. The more I thought about it, the more similarities I found. Both require a lot of planning and intention, both demand a lot of time and energy, and both return great rewards.
Here are 9 similarities I see between motherhood and my garden:
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9 Ways Motherhood is Like My Garden
The Soil Matters
In gardening, good soil is key. You have to have good soil if you want a good harvest. It has to be rich in nutrients and minerals. It also has to be the right soil for the plants you want to grow. The type of soil effects/determines the plants we can expect to go grow. There are some plants that I would love to grow in our garden, but we simply don’t have the right kind of soil to support them.
It is just as important to have a rich, solid foundation in parenting. What I “plant” my boys in affects the men they will become. I can’t expect to raise well-adjusted and Godly kids if our home is filled with strife and foolishness. Our home should be a foundation filled with life and nutrients, not one that is empty, or worse, toxic. If I want children who love God, love others, and love themselves, I must prepare the right soil for those fruits to grow.
What I do when I plant is important
In my garden, I can’t just haphazardly throw the seeds on the ground and expect a good return. No, I have to till the ground, fertilize the soil, dig holes or trenches, plant the seeds at the right depth, and then water them.
In the same way, how I prepare the ground for the seeds I plant in motherhood matters. Am I planting seeds of correction in love, or anger? Am I investing time in building my relationships with my kids, or seeking my own pleasures? Am I laying a foundation of spiritual disciplines and Godly wisdom, or just going through the motions and getting through the days?
What I Plant is What I Get
Here’s a “captain obvious” lesson for you – the seeds I plant determine the plants I get. If I want zucchini, I have to plant zucchini. If I want tomatoes, I have to plant tomatoes. I can’t plant radishes and expect sweet corn. It just doesn’t work that way.
So it is in mothering. Sure, kids are free moral agents and they can rise above or fall beneath their parenting, but by and large, the seeds we plant are the fruit we will reap. If we want kids who are loving, we must plant seeds of love. If we want kids who are self-disciplined, we must plant seeds of self-discipline. And if we want kids who are God-fearing, we must plant seeds of reverence and faith. We cannot expect a harvest that we did not plant.
It requires great patience.
I’m in the stage right now in our garden of waiting for my plants to grow. We planted a few weeks ago, and now we have to wait for all our hard work to pay off. I want those fresh fruits and veggies so bad I can taste them! But I have to wait. Sometimes in the garden it feels as though they are never going to come … and then I see those little sprouts, and my heart (and tummy!) are encouraged.
Just as plants don’t spring up immediately, nor do they spring up full-grown, neither do our children. It can be so frustrating and discouraging to discipline and correct all day with little or no (visible) results. But as with my plants, just when I think nothing is happening, little sprouts begin to emerge – small signs that a harvest is coming. Patience is hard when I can’t see the seeds taking root beneath the ground, but I have to trust that what I planted will eventually see the light of day.
I have to prepare the plants for maximum harvest
There is still work to be done, however, even after the plants start to come up. I have to prepare them for maximum harvest. Some of them, like the tomatoes, require cages for support. Some of them need to be trained up trellises or stakes. Others need to be thinned and pruned to encourage healthy growth. And they all need regular watering. I can’t just plant them and walk away and expect a good harvest. Some may grow on their own without any help, but not many, and not to their full potential.
As mothers, we spend 18 (or more) years preparing our children for their futures. We provide support for when their load is too great to bear, we train them to grow straight and tall, we prune out the dead stuff in their lives to make room for the good, and we regularly water them with love, encouragement, and sound teaching. Just as I can’t neglect my garden and expect a fruitful crop, neither can I shy away from preparing my children to reach their full potential.
It requires a LOT of weeding
Our garden is an organic garden – we don’t use any herbicides or pesticides. While I love what that means for our health, it also means there is a LOT of weeding to be done. And just when you think you’ve cleared out all the weeds and you can relax (just kidding, we’ve never been that on top of it), more spring up! It’s a never-ending battle, but one you have to wage if you want to keep your plants healthy and productive.
There are weeds in our kids’ lives, too. Bad influences, lies from the world, negativity, and poor habits all need to be regularly uprooted from our kids’ lives to encourage healthy growth. And just like in my garden, the work is never done. There will never be a day when we are finished weeding, because just when we think, “Whew, eliminated that weed!” another one pops up somewhere else. We can never afford to become complacent when it comes to weeding, for when we do, we will be surprised at how quickly the weeds grow and choke out the healthy plants we worked so hard to plant.
It’s a learning process
Every year there is something that doesn’t turn out quite right in our garden, and every year we learn something new. At the end of the season, we reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and use those lessons to improve our plan for the next year. When we are tempted to get discouraged about our mistakes, we remind each other that it’s a learning process, and each year we learn a little more and get a little better.
I think motherhood has the ultimate learning curve! Some moms had years of experience with kids before having babies, and some of us were totally clueless. But I guarantee all of us felt overwhelmed at some point at our lack of knowledge about raising children. Just like in gardening, there are some things that you just won’t really understand until you do it. In both gardening and motherhood, experience is the best teacher. And though we may make a lot of mistakes along the way, we learn from them, and every season prepares us for the next one.
What works for one plant doesn’t work for another
Not all plants are alike (obviously), so not all plants have the same needs. Some plants like a lot of water, some plants thrive in dry soil. Some plants like full sun, others prefer the shade. What works for one plant may not work for another, and if you want a good harvest, you better familiarize yourself with the particular needs of your plants.
The same can be said for kids. I am brand-new to the world of mothering multiple children, but even at 8 months, I can already see that my second son is quite different from his brother. Issues I had with Aidan have not even come up with Andrew, and precautions I have to take with Andrew I never had to worry about with Aidan. My experience disciplining two kids is very limited, but from what I’ve heard from many parents is that what works for one child may not (and mostly likely will not) work for the next, and vice versa. And just like in the garden, if we want to nurture the best qualities in our children, we would be wise to familiarize ourselves with their particular characteristics and needs.
Recommended Reading: The 5 Love Languages of Children
Sometimes it doesn’t turn out how I planned
My final lesson from the garden is this: Sometimes, even when we do everything “right,” things don’t turn out as we planned or wanted. There are other factors, factors outside of our control, that influence and effect our plants’ growth and yield. Bugs, animals, and weather conditions all come into play. We can take precautions and prepare for them as best we can, but sometimes there’s nothing left to do, and things just don’t go our way.
I don’t think I have to tell you that sometimes in motherhood, things just don’t turn out how we planned. We can plan and prepare, plant and protect, but there are some factors and circumstances that are beyond our control. Our kids get sick, they experience rejection or defeat, and they make choices that cause us to wonder where we went wrong. Just like when growing plants, we can do all the “right” things, and still experience disappointment. In those times, we need to realize our limitations as humans, and hand over control to the One who knows all, sees all, and wants the best for our kids even more than we do. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out how we plan, but we can trust that God’s plan is always good.
As I work in my garden this summer, I’m going to be reminded of how similar it is to raising my children. Just as a good garden requires planning, purpose, patience, and perseverance, so will my mothering. And if I want to reap a good harvest, I would do well to keep this lesson in mind.
You Might Also Enjoy:
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- Am I a Good Mom? 10 Things All Good Moms Do
- Why Do I Discipline? A Hard Look at My Motives
- 31 Scriptures to Pray Over Your Children