Shortly after my divorce, my son’s interests in plants and trees intensified. Being new to the single-parenting scene, I was adjusting to a new routine and scrambling to take care of myself and my son. I told him his passion couldn’t be nurtured fully because we didn’t have a yard. In truth, it was my way of avoiding the responsibility of keeping the plants alive. I am not proud of it, but I was oblivious to his passion and healing process and found myself spiraling further into obsessive behaviors.
With spring approaching, my need for order and cleanliness compelled me to make a trip to the local department store for supplies. When we arrived, my son spied the garden center erected in the parking lot. This was an unwelcome distraction for my tight schedule. I tried to hurry my son past it, but his heartfelt tears touched and tiny soft voice reached the darkest place of my heart when he said, “he just wanted to touch the beautiful pink flowers.”
We walked through the make shift aisles of the garden center and I watched as my son took pleasure in every plant. He stopped to touch each rose petal and told each tree how much he loved them. I kept close tabs on my watch as I worried about the detour in the plan. We finally made our way to the bleach and paper towels and exited the store with our purchases. At home, I was too busy making dinner, washing dishes and doing laundry to notice that my son had lifted something from the store.
Later that evening a storm raged through our small town, knocking down trees and ripping off roofs. My son was frightened by the sirens and the howling wind so he jumped into bed with me for snuggle time. When we woke the next morning, we were curious about the condition of the community and decided to take a drive. As we gawked at the downed power lines and damaged trees, my son announced that he needed to check on the rose bushes. He made the statement with the conviction of a parent who wanted to protect his young. I could see in his eyes that he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
We pulled into the parking lot horrified to find every rose bush lying on its side with soil strewn everywhere. Distraught, my son began to unbuckle before I had the vehicle parked. He leapt out of the van and began picking up the overturned pots. I followed to help him understand that it wasn’t our job and attempt to get him back to the car, but was instead instructed that the plants needed our help. My young and sensitive child took over and demonstrated to me how to pick up a rosebush without getting pricked by the thorns. I watched him carefully and lovingly pick up each bush, scoop soil onto the root ball and whisper to the bush that it was going to be ok.
The tenderness in his touch and the outpouring of his love touched my soul. It was in that moment, with tears streaming down my face, that I realized how grateful I was for this new life. I knew that the message my son was sending to the flowers was the message he needed to hear – it was going to be ok.
I let that peace fill me as I watched my beautiful child nurture his beloved plants. We spent the next forty-five minutes returning order to the makeshift nursery. When we finished, we gave thanks to the flowers and sent good vibes to the future caretakers of these plants. As we were saying our goodbyes, I turned to my son to tell him what a great thing he had done. Then I hugged him and whispered it was going to be ok.
After I put my son to bed that night, I started a load of laundry. I checked his pockets for rocks, Legos, candy or gum and instead found the rose petal he had lifted from the store the day before.
I placed the rose petal on my nightstand to remind me stop and smell the roses and be grateful for my journey. But more importantly to trust that it was going to be ok.
Trust is a powerful perspective that leads us from the fear of the storm to the grace and gratitude of the garden.
Happy Mother’s Day to mom’s encountering the storm; those who dwell in the garden; and everything in between.