When I was little I never understood why my Mom loved to garden. She spent a good bit of time perfecting her flower patches and watching them grow. We would always have gorgeous bouquets on the dining room table, thanks to her gardens. I never had any interest in passing time with plants, aside from proudly picking all of her tulips one year or beheading dandelions (much to my father’s dismay and his never ending battle with the weeds). My Mom must have planted the seed though, as now that I have my own kids, I get it. Boy, do I get it. I completely understand why she loves gardening so much. What a glorious escape!
All winter long, I plan my vegetable garden and think about new spots in the yard to plant flowers. At the first sign of spring, I become even more excited for the upcoming season. I carefully select vegetable seeds and get them started. I walk my yard daily, searching for the first sprouts and breathing in the crisp spring air. It clicked for me last year, this gardening thing. In that moment, with dirty hands and the sound of my boys playing alongside me, I became very thankful that my Mom shared her love of gardening with me. Though I didn’t appreciate it then, I do now.
The best part of it all is involving my boys. At almost two and four, they are sponges for knowledge. It is now my turn to plant the seed in them. To teach them the ways of the garden and instill in them a love of nature. So far, they love it too. I know there may come a time when they can’t be bothered to help in the garden, but for now it is a new adventure for them. They are just as excited to start the vegetable seeds and look at the dirt each day to see if anything is popping through. They too enjoy walking the yard and learning about the various plants coming up through the Earth.
As a mom, I feel it is so important to share my love of nature and teach my boys where food comes from. As our vegetable plants gift us throughout the summer months, my boys enjoy eating straight from the garden. I don’t care that the majority of our vegetables never make it to our dinner table! Seeing the joy on their faces when they find a new bean on the vine or a ripening tomato is what this is all about. What better way to build healthy habits! We also frequent local farms and pick every berry and fruit as it comes into season.
As a mom, I sometimes need a break from the crazy circus that is raising two amazing yet challenging little boys. This is where gardening comes in. To pull weeds releases frustrations. To cut flowers and put them on the kitchen table reminds me of my childhood and gives me something pretty to look at when one of my boys is having a moment. To spend time in the garden gives me a chance to soak up some sun and dream about having a mini farm someday.
I also feel it important to carry this love of gardening into what I do for work. As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I work with children who struggle with eating. I often encourage their families to plant a few vegetables and involve their kids in the process. When this isn’t an option, I suggest bringing the children to farms and picking whatever crop is ready at that time. As parents we need to show our children the process and give them the full sensory experience of food. I have seen many a choosey eater enjoy fruits and vegetables when experiencing them in nature.
I do hope my boys continue to enjoy the garden or at least have memories of our time spent pigging out on delicious veggies while chatting in the yard. I certainly cherish this time and am so thankful my Mom shared her knowledge. Apparently I was listening!
So plant that seed. Whether it is a vegetable garden, a flower garden, or a metaphor for some other garden, plant the seed. Instill in your children the same love you have for your values, hobbies, and passions. Get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and make some memories. Even if your children don’t pick up on these things now, they will someday.