Earlier this week, my son completed the elementary (primary) school years, and one of the plots we tend in our church’s community garden produced its first harvest, two lovely yellow squash.
My son’s elementary school years coming to a close and the first harvest from the garden intertwined, connecting in a symbolic way not lost on me as I brushed away foliage that evening to pull the squash. It had been an emotional day. The ending of the elementary years are, in essence, the end of childhood, at least young childhood. Sorry for the cliché, but it is truly the end of an era.
Endings and beginnings, however, overlap without our noticing most times. In the garden, I was pleased to see how quickly the small cucumber seedlings are sprouting into hearty vines. We want to try our hand at making pickles this year, but I don’t know if just two vines will be enough. I may have to supplement with a few cukes from the local farmer’s market, but that’s okay. Still, given how robustly our other plants are producing, it’s possible we’ll have all we need for a few jars of bread and butter pickles right here.
These were my thoughts as I perused our plots, the significance of the day and all it symbolized resting somewhere comfortably until I was fully ready to process it. Parenting alone, I've often worried that I am not enough, or that there will come a time when I am not enough, but I have sown seeds in my son, seeds I hope will take root as he heads towards the adolescent years - seeds of kindness, compassion, spirituality, a love of old things, simpler times, and how to find joy in doing the work needed to keep the world – or at least our little slice of the world – spinning. I hope that the example I strive to set for him through my own life will be enough, but I don’t know. As he gets older, there may be times when he needs others to step in, to sow seeds that fill the spaces I can’t.
And this is okay. Just as it takes a community of gardeners to fill the plots in our garden, it takes a community of teachers, coaches, friends, family members, etc. to help parents guide children as they journey through adolescence and into adulthood. The roots I've given him will hold him firm as he grows towards his own unique destiny.
Returning home one evening earlier this week after a walk, we smelled the lingering aroma of our dinner as I unlocked the door. "Smells like home," he said, and I had to smile. I, too, can remember coming up the steps of the house I grew up in, breathing in the scent of a home-cooked dinner on the stove, and thinking, smells like home.
It's the little things, the simple things, that ground us, that create us, that define family and home to us. My greatest blessing, my highest calling, is creating and being 'home' for my son. And it's a fine life's work. :-)