mental health,  motherhood

The therapy of green sprouts in winter

The tomatoes have been the best so far. They’re really good at making me feel successful 😉

Parenting can be the most stressful, exhausting, frustrating job on the planet. Sure, every once in a while, you get glimpses of fulfillment, but (at least for me) there’s a lot of daily struggle. A lot. It doesn’t matter what phase I’ve been in–newborn, toddler, preschooler, small child (is that a phase?) tween, and teen, they have all been hard in their own way. And even if J is having a great day that doesn’t guarantee that my parenting job is running smoothly–W can have her moments too.

About a month ago, in the last cold weeks of January, I was walking through Fleet Farm, and I saw seed packets on display. And on a whim I picked up half a dozen packets. Seeds for tomatoes and peppers, seeds for petunias and impatiens. I even bought seeds of flowers I had never heard of (butterfly flowers and Grecian roses) that looked really pretty on the packaging and I have no place for in our garden (I use the words “our garden” very loosely–our garden consists of a few flowers along the side of the house and the occasional tomato plants. Any other landscaping we have is perennial growth from the previous owners). I bought the seed starter kits along with them and I came home and I thought, “It will be really good for the kids to see the process. It’ll be like a little science experiment.”Plus I needed some green. So the kids planted them, and haven’t had anything to do them since.

But this tiny miracle happened once the seeds started sprouting. I started having this overwhelming sense of happiness and accomplishment. From tiny seed sprouts. Lame right? But for weeks now, I’ve been running down to the basement every morning to flip on their fluorescent grow lights and check their daily progress. Every night before I go to bed I turn their lights off and am astounded what kind of progress they can make in half of a day. Every few days I give them water. It’s a miracle I very rarely experience–I do everything I’m supposed to do and they do everything they’re supposed to do and there’s visual, measurable progress. Which is the antithesis of my entire parenting experience.

I didn’t realize how much I needed tiny, daily measurements of success. It’s been really therapeutic for me–keeping me optimistic in these last winter months and weeks for before spring– giving me that sense of success, when there is so much daily struggle with things.

Here are my sprouts. It’s been interesting seeing their growing phases. The tomatoes popped up first and it took weeks for the petunias and peppers to sprout. When I got worried about the peppers I reminded myself that I had planted 3 seeds in each cell and that if none of them were up yet, then it’s not their time yet. And sure enough their time came. Imagine that! No developmental delays, everything right on track! I don’t know what I’ll do with them once it comes time to transplant them outdoors. I’m sure we’ll plant some but we really don’t need 12 pepper plants or 24 tomato plants. I probably don’t need all of those petunias either. But I’ll appreciate the daily therapy and sense of accomplishment while I have them indoors.

Peppers on the left, tomatoes in the middle, and petunias on the right!

Tomorrow I drive down to Minneapolis for a few days to attend a conference and teacher training on reading comprehension method that I feel J might really benefit from. His behaviour and anxiety were so loud for a few years that they drowned out the other things he was struggling with. This is my new struggle. How to help J succeed academically. I’m excited about this new option in helping J, but at the same time, I know it will be a ton of work with more daily struggles. Parenting just isn’t turning on a switch for a few hours a day and turning it back off again with instant growth results. Wouldn’t it be amazing if it were?

But for now, I’ll enjoy the instant gratification of my seedlings. And maybe try growing a pineapple next! Thanks for the idea, C!


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