Our Greatest Teachers


I had always imagined that I would one day be a wise old lady, imparting profound words of wisdom about life and teaching my children how to navigate through it.   After twelve years of motherhood, I now realize that I have learned more from my children than I ever could have imagined.  They have become my greatest teachers.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did whatever I could to learn about the big job ahead of me – motherhood.   I took Lamaze classes and bought all of the latest books on pregnancy, sleep training, parenting philosophies and childhood illnesses.  After many months of preparation, I went to what would be my last OBGYN appointment only to learn that the baby had flipped himself to a breach position and that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck.  I would need a c-section the next day.   At that moment, all of my planning and preparation for the way I wanted this birth to happen was down the tubes – no Lamaze breathing, no natural childbirth, no week to finish work and prepare for his arrival.

Similarly, after he arrived, all of my plans to mold and shape this little bundle of joy into a well-scheduled, sleep-through-the-night baby were also quickly forgotten.  No feeding schedules, no regular nighttime routines, no sleeping through the night were in our future.  Up to this point in my life, I worked hard in school and got good grades, worked hard in my job and got good performance reviews, and worked hard to keep my life well-planned, setting goals for myself and achieving them.  But this new role, motherhood, was going to be different.  The first lesson that I learned from my son was that despite my best efforts and best-laid plans, I was not in control.

The next lesson came quickly as well.   Much to my surprise, I learned that my role as a mom was not to shape and mold my children into the people I wanted them to be.  Instead, I would have a much different, more passive role in their development.   I have learned that my job is to love and nurture them, keep them safe from harm and simply watch them grow.  Parenting is like planting a garden.  We can water our plants to help them grow, add fertilizer to make them strong, and put them in the sunlight to help them thrive, all while trying to protect them from the dangers of hungry birds, animals and insects, but we cannot determine what type of plant will grow.  That is up to the seed itself.

Then came the most intriguing lesson of all.  My children are chock-full of great insight and wisdom.  All I have to do is be sure to listen.  When my son was four years old, he would cry and cling to my legs each morning at drop off, pleading not to leave him.  This routine broke my heart every day, until one day he looked into my eyes while I was giving him one last tight hug good-bye before the tears would begin to flow, and he said, “I’m OK mommy.  Just go.”  It was then that I realized through his simple, but incredibly insightful words that it was me who was having a difficult time letting him go and that he would be OK without me.

These words of wisdom from our children are everywhere if we just pay attention to them.  One rainy morning, on our way to school, I remarked to my children, “What a yukky day!”  My littlest child quickly replied, “It’s not yukky, it’s just raining.”  I have never looked at a rainy day quite the same since then.

More recently, my seven year old asked me if her Nana would be OK after she was diagnosed with cancer.  I replied, “I certainly hope so.”  My son then piped in, “You know that you can get very sick from even a common cold.”   To which my youngest child thought for a moment and then said, “Oh . . . (pause)  . . . what’s for lunch?”  This may sound like a silly conversation, but I found it to be quite profound.   As I listened to this exchange, I thought to myself, what a great way to look at life – to recognize that things happen which are completely out of our control and that often all that we can do is simply hope for the best and try not to worry so much about that which we cannot change, but instead live in the moment.  If only our minds could stay as clear and uncomplicated as the mind of a child.

As adults, we often dismiss our children’s insights as naïve and think that they are simply unable to comprehend the significance of the situation.  But instead, I think that we, as adults, often spend too much time worrying about all of the possibilities of what might be, making everything so complicated, and forgetting to notice what is right in front of us.

Our children have a magical way of staying connected to themselves and to the world around them.  We can all learn from them how to once again look at life with eyes untainted by judgment, cynicism and worry, to let go of our need to control what is or what will be and, instead, to live fully in each moment and enjoy the simple things that can be so amazing and so beautiful if we take the time to notice them.


**One of the most beautiful essays I have read about parenting is All My Babies Are Gone Now, by Anna Quindlen.  She writes from the perspective of having already lived through the ups and downs of mothering young children, and her insights looking back at those years are powerful.  She has inspired me to think more about parenting and about what parenthood is really all about.  Please check out her thoughts on parenthood by clicking here.

Being Wrong


I love being wrong. I know that sounds so strange and counter intuitive, but my last post was about the garden being finished for the season and I was wrong. Big time wrong. Let me explain, it was a sunny day on Monday and I looked out at the garden that I had yet to clean up and decided not to delay. The sun was shining, the kids where at school and the moment was mine. I ventured into the garden which looked so sad and wilted. All of the energy and life seemed to have been picked from it. I began my ritual of ripping out all of the plants that I had so tenderly planted with such promise and hope. Some had yielded their full potential of edible gifts while others hadn't. As I carelessly walked on top of the raised bed ignoring where I was stepping and hastily making my way through the task of bending and pulling out all of the tomato stakes and remnants of tomato plants this huge patch of lush green weeds caught my eye on the other side of the garden. I couldn't believe I had such a large cluster of weeds that were such a brilliant green color. When I walked over to it to examine it more closely and I was in awe of what I saw. It was a full crop of Broccoli Rabe. One of the crops that I have struggled with the most. Despite the most carefully executed planting, watering and carrying routine time after time I had failed to grow this beloved family favorite. Each year I had experienced another failure from this crop. When I examined it more closely and looked back at my garden notes that I had kept from the start of the season I was even more amazed. It was all completely wrong. It wasn't supposed to be there, that wasn't where I had put it or intended for it to grow. This made the discovery even more profound and perplexing to me. As I contemplated how seeds or plants take root and choose to succeed, I pondered on how some times the things we are sure are right for us do not take root, and the others we are convinced are not right for us on our path take root and thrive. It is so often that a different path appears or something grows where it is not supposed to, but being open to being wrong allows you to see that what was once thought of as a weed is now a luscious gift in life.

Today in the Garden


Today marked what I think is the final day of harvesting from my fall garden.  It's time to say goodbye to lettuce, chard, kale, eggplant, brussell sprouts, dill and rosemary grown in the organic garden and return to buying produce from the farmer's market or traditional market.  I am hopefully the my stock piles of greens will carry us through a few more weeks.  As I picked my last few items with the sun shining down on my garden, I thought back to the success we had this growing season.  This was our first year of the fall planting and it yielded so many gifts as the weather turned cooler by the day. Our normal planting routine always takes place on Mother's Day.  Each year my family endures the Mother's Day ritual of planting our families garden together.  It is a gift we work on giving to each other.  As the primary farmer in the house I require full attendance on planting day.  No organized sports or religious school are allowed to interfere with this sacred time together.  It is a tradition that we have established and it is wonderful to all be outside together in the garden.  We all have our required parts and roles that we play.  My husband makes sure that we don't plant things to closely together, my son works the pick ax through the soil to loosen it for easy planting and my daughter plants the marigolds to keep the pests away and then always disappears to swing her way through the rest of the planting of the swing set I consider getting rid of each spring.

While the sun is shining brightly now, the over night temperatures where at the edge of frost and the garden had seen better days.  While the fall harvest is over, the fall clean up and preparation for next years garden are just beginning.

Each year the garden has grown and so has our pleasure from having it as part of our family.  What once seemed like a herculean task now is a normal part of our spring ritual.  I often meditate while I am watering or working in the garden.  It is so peaceful and serene to be one with nature.  People often ask me what causes everything to grow so well in the garden....I always remark that it is gods work...Sun, Water, Air and the beauty of another day transforms both the garden and us.