Gardening & Guiding Our Children - What Do They Have in Common?.../Documentary Family Photography/Brisbane Family Photography

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is not just to feed the body, but the soul."

-Alfred Austin

Do you like gardening?  I do.  Well I always have.  But since I started university over 18 months ago now, I had to put my gardening tools down and let my garden die.  I just didn't have the time.  Not just for gardening, but it seems for many other things.

Not only did my garden die, but other things began to die.  Mainly good habits that I had worked hard over many years to cultivate and little things that at the time I began to take for granted.  Like my fitness, my early morning ritual of yoga and meditation and the time that I had as a mother to spend with my daughter, and my husband and just doing things around the home and together that make our lives feel so abundantly rich.

These things only this year I realised I took for granted, and assumed that they would always be there. I thought that maybe if I gain a degree and improve my prospects of vocation that I could better our lives, bring in more money so we could do more things.  De ja vu...been there...done that...and it doesn't always work.  I have realised too late before now, that I have everything that I want right now that truly makes me happy.  I have just focused on the wrong things and I every now and again I have to remind myself of what's most important for me.   Everyone is different and each person must decide for themselves what truly matters.

Miss Phil pointing to her flower on her first petunias she planted.

Like my garden, I have come to the realisation that without careful, constant nurturing, those seeds we lovingly sow, grow, cultivate and nurture can wither and die.  Those flowers and plants that grow into strong, healthy things of beauty, left without constant care can become bereft of their former beauty. Those things that previously had given us such satisfaction and enjoyment through watching them grow, when they wither and die, we too wither and die on the inside.  It leaves us feeling empty, hollow and without joy.  

And so it is with our children, and with the people and things we hold dear.   We're so busy striving for bigger and better only to realise that more and bigger doesn't equate to better. Because often in the striving we must compromise something to make a gain, and that something is often time.  Time that we really need to take better care of ourselves first, and then time to stop and listen to those who are crying out for our love and attention.  Time to connect with people...with our surrounds...with little things that happen all around us.

Like a garden, our children, our family, friends and those things of beauty that are good for our soul, need to be constantly nurtured and cared for. These little things become the big things are the very things that give us the most peace and joy.

I don't know about you, but as a mother in today's times I have grown thinking that by being everything to everyone - striving and achieving,  I am being a good role model for my child. And I think I am.  But being a good role model I believe is also about tempering striving with non-striving.  Knowing when to be achieving, but knowing when to stop - to slow down and be present.  Because the whole while our children are watching us and they're mimicking what we do and who we are.  And most of all they are watching what we do when they need us most and they are at their worst.  Will we shout and be angry because we're too busy, or will we stop, look at them and listen...truly listen?  

Are we wise and do we impart our knowledge to them?  Are we teaching and sharing with them the lessons we have learned along the way, including our challenges and our failures? Are we courageous enough to face our own fears and walk with our fears, and in doing so teach them that they too can face their fears and achieve in spite of them?  And as we appreciate things of beauty, are we sharing what we see with them so they can develop a sense of appreciation and gratitude?  Do we tell them that people are more important than 'things'?   And most importantly, do we show them by our actions?

But you know, just like a garden if we catch things early enough and we are open to reconnecting, we can resurrect that garden.  We start by pulling out those weeds, preparing the soil to make it richer and watering the garden.  Once we've prepared the bed of soil we can then plant and as before if we carefully and tenderly water and nurture those plants they will grow and if we keep up constant care and nurturing, those plants will then flourish.

Meanwhile, as we water and nourish we gain immense joy and satisfaction at the seeds we've sown.  We enjoy the process because we can see what things of beauty the seeds or plants we've planted, are becoming.  And we marvel at the miracle of life and all the things that come together to make this garden what it is...sunshine, nutrients, worms, bugs, bees, water and our love and attention.

A good friend of mine said something to me recently that really hit home.  She said, "Kerry, our children have such a short time as children for us to enjoy.  We have time still to do the things we want to do when they are grown."  I don't want to miss that time and all those moments before they're gone.  Because those moments pass in the blink of an eye and we will never get them back.  Life is too short for such regrets.

Kerry xx







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