I used to be an enthusiastic gardener. I had a large and moderately successful vegetable garden. I planted a perennial border that ran nearly the length of the house. In its prime, it was lovely. I nursed a patch of Zinnias each year, a flowering window box out front, various pots scattered around.
The vegetable patch is now officially Lawn. The Zinnias didn't even make it into the ground this year. And the ground cover is the beginning of the end of the perennial flower bed.
Five years ago it all looked so different.
So what happened?
1. The small shrubs I planted behind the perennial border grew and grew and now block out most of the sunlight (which is essential for perennials).
2. I held on to one humble patch, determined to keep it pretty when a neighborhood cat decided to turn it into a litter box and killed every last bedding plant three years running.
3. I birthed John and Ainsley. Growing people leaves less time for growing plants.
As I planted those five pots of ground cover, a wistful feeling briefly overcame me. I loved my perennial garden -- Daffodils and Phlox, Purple Coneflowers and Yarrow. And just as suddenly as that wave of nostalgia came, it left. I felt peaceful and -- does this sound melodramatic? -- free. I thought to myself, "I think I'll pop by Lowe's and grab another ten of these."
What was once an enjoyable pastime had become pure chore, and here's the heart of the matter: I don't need another chore. I can't keep up, and it's depressing to be reminded of that fact every time I walk into the backyard.
So I'm throwing in the trowel.
As I hop around my little corner of the blogosphere, I find women in a variety of walks of life making hard choices about where their time is best spent. Many -- most -- of them are grappling with far, far more serious issues than whether or not to garden. But the common denominator is the same: We have a finite amount of time and energy. How are these best spent for God and the people God has put into our lives?
Dwija tackles this issue head on in a recent post titled "The Tyranny of Something Extra." Dwija is an upbeat, funny lady, and she lives in Michigan, so you gotta love her even more. She writes:
I sit down at the end of the day, kick off my paint-splattered Dansko clogs and sigh. Deeply. And I say to myself "Why am I so tired? I didn't even do anything today!"She concludes:
Do anything. A thing.
This crippling idea that unless I do at least one "thing" every day, something special and different...something EXTRA, that I can point to and say "look! this is interesting!", I don't deserve to feel tired or take a few moments to relax, is an absolute joy-suck
Friends, I am done with the tyranny of "something extra". The things I have to do (all this mothering business) and the things I want to do (this blog, that writing work)...those are real things! They take time and energy and effort. They are good and helpful. And just because I haven't managed to take people on a tour of a local dairy farm or sewn valances for my kitchen windows doesn't mean I'm not worthy of a little rest at the end of my day.
These regular things . . . they can be enough.
Christine was the first true friend I made through blogging. She is one of the most positive people you'll encounter and is facing some daunting trials right now as her daughter faces a difficult illness. Christine writes:
I’ve already cut back my hours at work . . . and after Christmas I will be taking six months’ unpaid leave. I think it’s very unlikely I will be able to return. However, although I’m a bit sad about both these changes, at this point I’m very relieved to be able to devote myself solely to looking after the Dafter [her daughter] – and myself. It’s not that I’m a martyr, or that I will be with her every single minute of every day. It just means that the very small amounts of time when I can get away, I’ll really be able to relax and do things for myself. As my job entails helping people, and doing a lot of listening, it is very tiring and I come home just beat these days.
As I contemplated the demise of my once flourishing perennial border, I reminded myself that Not Today does not translate into Not Tomorrow; it certainly doesn't mean Never Again.
For a variety of reasons, this year will be an intense one for us. Like Dwija, I am turning away from the tyranny of something extra.
(And I'm sure Christine would appreciate prayers for her daughter's complete recovery).