When I was growing up, we had very large gardens around our home. There were flower beds all around the yard and a large vegetable garden every summer. Growing up, I hated those gardens and failed to appreciate the beauty they provided. My father would plan and plant them to his liking and then the rest of us would be responsible for the upkeep – a task I detested. That’s how I viewed those gardens – something to detest.
The truth is, they were beautiful…amazingly so. My father had an eye for where those flowers would do well and grow to all they could be and the veggies were always incredible. He did his best to limit the amount of weeding required to maintain the garden (although nothing short of maintenance-free, pick-yourself-and-walk-to-the-kitchen would have satisfied me). I’m not sure if she enjoyed the process of gardening but I’m sure my negativity impacted that experience for her either way and I feel bad about that now. I know my mom hated all my complaining. I was definitely not shy about sharing my thoughts.
We always had great dinners. My mom canned, cooked and baked. While there may have been some, I don’t remember much for frozen dinners or anything like that. It seemed like everything was made from scratch. She was a good cook (even though it was a little joke that frequently one item would be forgotten or burned) and put a lot of love into those meals – I’m sure the love is what I was actually tasting above all else. She waited on us, making sure everyone had everything they needed before she sat down to eat herself.
Now, as I struggle with my weight as an adult, I realize how often I go out to eat and why – a recent insight during these past two weeks with the flu – yes, even at 46, I curled up on the couch and wished my mom was there to take care of me. I realized that my love for going to a restaurant, sitting in a comfy booth and being waited on is my attempt to re-create one of the ways I felt loved by my mom. Realizing this is actually what put the gardening into perspective for me. While I don’t want to garden myself, I can appreciate the love that is required from start to finish in creating food for the table or the beauty a flower brings into the world. And I realize that I can show myself love by choosing good quality foods and doing more cooking and baking for myself. I don’t need to look outside to receive the love I desire. I can also honor my mom by seeing the good in myself that she sees. She shows her love in many ways but the one that always stands out to me is how, no matter what I do, I feel loved, valued and important in her eyes. What a gift this is for a child, even one as old as I am.