Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Inch by inch, row by row

Frank loves gardening, and as this is his first summer without law classes to take or a bar exam to study for, he is taking advantage of his (relative) leisure time to grow a garden on our patio.

He has an herb garden, three kinds of lettuce, three kinds of tomato, three kinds of mint (I'd never even heard of chocolate mint before!), and two kinds of pepper plants. It's an impressive garden for our glorified fire escape of a patio! We're already reaping some of the results in fresh herbs and salad greens.

Unlike Frank, I have what some call a "brown thumb." Despite many attempts over the years, I've never managed to keep a plant alive, much less a whole garden. There is just something about patience and routine and building the habits necessary to grow plants that is a struggle for me.

Frank works on his gardens in the evenings after work, and often I carry Frankie out to the porch and we join Frank while he works. The baby is hungry more often then not, so I sit and nurse him while Frank plants and waters. Our evenings on the patio are some of our happiest times as a family.

Motherhood is all about patience, I'm beginning to find, especially when it comes to nursing. Frankie likes to eat for at least six hours a day, and it is HARD for this energetic extrovert to spend that much time sitting quietly in a chair (of course I have books and movies and my iPhone to distract me, but still!).

Last week I met with a family friend who is a lactation consultant, and she told me that breastfeeding is so difficult in our rushed modern world because it forces mothers to pause everything and simply be—simply rest, sit quietly, think, and cuddle the baby. I could relate to that! Each day of nursing him requires a little more patience with myself and all the tasks I can't do, a little more building of quiet and peaceful habits.

As I sat on the patio nursing Frankie the other night, it occurred to me that my work nursing the baby and Frank's work nurturing his garden are not that far off from each other. Both require patience and thoughtfulness and at least a little bit of effort every day—but both reap such wonderful rewards. He is growing food for us and I am growing a little person who always will be (already is!) our pride and joy.

I thought about a song we used to sing when we were children: "Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow. All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground." That's gardening in a nutshell, but it's mothering too. Inch by inch, little by little, with progress that is barely visible day to day, you work to grow something beautiful.

Maybe there is hope for this brown-thumbed girl after all.


  1. Gardening is so therapeutic after a long day - same with cooking. :p I love the analogy to motherhood... y'all have a beautiful life, and Frankie (well, both Franks) is blessed to have you.
    Country Girl's Daybook: Jesus, Photography, Fashion, & Food

  2. You are helping such a handsome little boy to grow! :) Made me think of a song by Liam Clancy & Tommy Makem :) If Frank likes Irish music, he'll like this one :) And I think you will too! :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQNM3YjMlgA

  3. This is so lovely. I love gardening in theory, or I'm good at helping as long as I'm not required to have the initiative to watch them myself and keep track of schedules (I'm a bit of a spaz), BUT I just planted some herbs in boxes yesterday, so we'll see how that goes. It does require infinite patience, but the results are so magical :)