My daughter’s first birthday is approaching and as every mother may know, this is cause for natural reflection. And oh, how I have been reflecting on my beautiful baby girl.
The plot of earth that is now my garden was once a travesty, the product of years of distraction, disinterest, and neglect. The previous home owners had gone awry and consequently, so had everything else. What were once fruit bearing trees had been chopped to stumps. The adornment of lush bushes had been buried by years of weeds and overgrowth, eventually drying the things up completely. Paths that once led through and to beauty and connection in the yard had long since cracked and disintegrated. Upon first glance, it was all an eyesore. But my husband knows all too well that I have a chronic frailty for potential. I knew some attention, education, hard work and patience could revive this garden to be meaningful and beautiful again. After all, this was the place, the home for our family. It wasn’t fancy, big, or expensive. But it was comfortably ours. And so, I set to work.
If I could collect the buckets of sweat I gave to yanking, digging, sawing, chopping, uprooting, and (okay, I admit it) cursing that piece of land I’m sure it would overflow the ocean. It took me years to remove diseased trees, stumps, and some mysterious mound of a garbage trove wherein we still find junk. But eventually, as I knew it would, the garden yielded a blank canvas.
I studied and tried, dreamed and planted, sowed and cultivated. It all took a long time as I worked according to limits in money, time, and energy. I’m a firm believer in appropriately bringing children along in the sweat and effort of family life. Subsequently, my little boy had a ball rolling around in mud and digging for worms. His trucks became garden residents amidst the mounds of freshly tilled earth. Oh, he had a romping good time for years. In a way, our dreams became his dreams.
Amidst my garden dreams was a hope to have a small climbing rose garden. I’ve always had a fondness for roses, a garden gift from my mother. I knew this special part of the garden would take planning and time, and I knew it would take faith. And so, I worked for my rose garden. Throughout that work, and as every year passed, we would lose a baby.
We have had a hideous time in getting our children here, and in keeping them here. This kind of family dream is not for the faint of heart. It can be grinding, terrifying, hard, long, dark and disappointing. Like a garden path, it can lead to beauty or it can crack with each step. But we believed fiercely in this dream and so we kept at it and bitterly learned repeatedly that life’s gifts are not always given, although deserved. I hope to never repeat those years for us.
Children, I believe, are gifts. No one does anything to earn them. They are simply gifts. And I don’t know why we were given a beautiful, healthy, bouncing baby girl, but I praise God for her. Oh, how we love her.
She is round and rosy, soft and sweet. She is and always has been ultimately pleasant. Her pleasant nature is one of her gifts, I believe. I simply adore her.
This season is her first in the garden and she seems to have a fondness for roses. In the evenings, when it’s so lovely, she and I will wander to the roses. Each time she pushes her perfect little nose into the blooms I’m surprised at how it moves me. Her dimpled hands lightly touch the petals and she squeals with delight. Then back into the bloom with her nose she goes. She can spend a good long while doing this.
The valuable things in family life can often be the most challenging to obtain. They can take time. They can take patience. And they can exhaust faith until the vision becomes blurry. But I have also found that these things are inherently surprising in joy: they are round and rosy, soft and sweet. They are peaceful in their pleasantness, like my rosebud.