Gardening is not part of our family legacy. My urbanite parents had little interest in growing their own food and opted for modern conveniences at every turn. But as a holistic-minded parent, my distrust of our food supply combined with a desire for affordable, organic and local produce has led me down the path of becoming a gardener. Remarkably, it feels very much like becoming a parent.
The early days were filled with excitement and wonder. I pored over seed and gardening catalogs with awe. At first I thought I needed all the latest and greatest gear, the little gadgets to make my gardening adventure a success. But both budget and space limitations forced me to make more realistic choices, just as I had when my first child came into the world. I do, however, wish that someone would throw me a Garden Shower and bestow wonderful gifts to prepare for the journey ahead. Alas, that is not on the horizon.
Selecting our seeds was another fun step. My son and I picked a variety of items to plant, from our favorite veggies to some intriguing herbs. We read up online and in books and magazines, cultivating advice from a wide range of sources. Yet as I dive in, I find myself full of uncertainty. I peer over the fences of neighbors to see what their gardens look like, chat with anyone I can find with a green thumb, and try to find assurances that we, too, will become good gardeners.
Our little seedlings have sprouted and we look on with glee and amazement. "Oh, mom, they're so cute!" my son utters. Indeed they are. But are they getting enough light and water? When do we harden them to help them thrive outdoors? And transplanting - how soon? I eye the weather and prepare myself for the next journey. I want to nurture them and guide them, but also give them their space. I hope that at least there are not tumultuous teenage years ahead, and am thankful that we don't have to worry about them staying out late or straying far from home.
I have not even planted our little sprouts and already I am wanting to grow our garden family. There are sure to be many challenges ahead. Pests and critters, drought or hornworms. Like parenthood, I know I have just begun. But the rewards are already so evident. The wonder of nature never ceases to amaze me. I may be a novice and learning as I go but gardening, like parenting, is forcing me to live in the moment and stay attuned to present with all its blessings and challenges. Perhaps by our third or fourth year, I will become a seasoned expert and will share tales of our plants over coffee with other local gardeners. For now, I sit in hopeful anticipation of what is to come and are very thankful that at least our garden is not preventing me from sleeping through the night.
Contributed by Nancy Peplinsky, Founder and Director of the Holistic Moms Network, and mother to two amazing boys.