On Mother's Day, my wife desires only one thing: to spend her special day in bed. The flower bed, that is.
Victoria is an avid gardener. Her yearly request is that we join her in sprucing up our yard and preparing the vegetable garden for planting. I'm happy to oblige even though I have a black thumb that puts young plants in grave peril. As for Colin, Amber, and Jesse, this tradition was fine when they were little and work was a "Whatcha doin'? Can I help?" proposition. Our family photo albums even contain the heartwarming evidence: Amber, 2 years old, sitting in the garden with a binky affixed to her face and a yellow plastic pail in her hand while Colin, 4, dutifully wields his red plastic rake and toy wheelbarrow. A page in a later volume reveals teenaged Colin playfully threatening Jesse, 10, with a pitchfork. That one pretty much sums up Mother's Day at our house after dreaded adolescence blew in.
These days, the idea of weeding, raking, and mulching holds about as much appeal as extra math homework. Our kids have another compelling reason to loathe that 25' x 40' plot of earth next to our house: The beet-down they endure when bulbous purple beasties start showing up on their plates in summertime. Their horror tales about the yellow-squash invasion are rich.
So, over time, there has been a certain amount of kibitzing, drifting off the job site, and yes, grumbling. I found myself playing sheepherder and drill sergeant. While guiding the errant flock back to work, I occasionally remind the grousers that it is more blessed to give than to receive, especially when they're giving to someone who does so much for them all year long and who is the person they turn to first whenever something goes awry.
My spring gust of wind continues as I explain that Mom loves them more than they can understand and that she's not the Wicked Witch of the West for making them do their homework, practice their instruments, and be responsible. She even keeps our home within the ballpark definition of clean. All of these things are her precious daily gifts to them, particularly the lesson that work is not something to be dreaded or avoided. It can even be enjoyed.
Right, Daddy-O. Can I go on the Internet now?
The great surprise, and reward, of parenting is seeing your toil and sweat bear fruit, or fruits and vegetables, in this case. Our kids now gather in the garden and do the requested work without complaint. There's still some horseplay, but that's what keeps it real. Last Mother's Day was proclaimed by Victoria to be the best ever. We'll surely be back out there this year, and who knows? Maybe we'll even gladden her heart with a joyful chorus of "Bringing in the Sheaves." It seems the seeds of love and life lessons are planted on Mother's Day. It just takes time, wind, and patience for them to sprout.