I have been doing a bit of planting of late–just small things in my front and back garden but all of it reminds me of my mother. For as long as I remember, my mother has been an avid gardener. Daphne Bailey lives surrounded by flowers and if you want to hear her gush, just ask her about her roses, her orchids or her kids. I myself love the outdoors. I am perhaps most at home in the outdoors, but I wouldn’t call myself a great gardener. I have planted and have sown but have not always given my charges the care and attention they needed to become fully grown.
That is what has me thinking again about my own mother and all the other mothers out there who carefully sow into their children with hopes for a promised future. With the help of a friend, I sowed spinach, carrots, oregano and thyme and just this weekend planted raspberries amidst a bed of marigolds. Each day I am looking anxiously at the garden plot to see if anything has come to life, if my seeds and plants will “make it” in spite of the intermittent cold and the occasional four legged pest. Will they raise their heads above the ground proudly and happily reaching for the sun? Or will they wilt from too much rainwater? Will they find their way to my dining room table -lush and ripe– or will I have to try again next year for a better crop?
Mothers don’t have the option of saying, ” Next year there will be a better crop.” We sow seeds and open to our children every resource available to us with the hope that everything will fall into place. We too are sometimes impatient to see growth before its time; we are sometimes sad when our children on their way to full growth stumble and fall; we too stumble and fall along with them for their hurt is our hurt. It’s a magical process, really, a mystery perhaps known only to God himself how children grow from one day to the next. One day they are by your knee and the next day, they are towering over you. Still, the growth that matters is not just the physical growth, just as I won’t be happy if my raspberry plants grow tall but don’t bear fruit. It’s all about bearing fruit and hopefully good fruit. That is what we mothers are looking for. That is what the sacrifices are all about. Will they be productive AND kind? Will they be faithful and loving? Will they stand for the weak and the voiceless?
In the meantime, we are sometimes anxious as I am in looking at my back garden, but always glad that we have sown seeds of life into our children; those seeds, regardless of outcome, are the ones we will never regret sowing.
My thanks to you Mom and all mothers including those who mother their students, their godchildren, their nieces, nephews and so many in their communities. Thank you.
Anne C. Bailey, author of The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History. (Cambridge University Press, 2017)