Garden of the god(dess)

It was in the throws of late spring and now past summer solstice that I find myself shoe deep in the mud of our yard. Clumps of clay and weed and dog paw prints like fossils changing from mud to dried artifact. I am filled with caffeine-fueled hope that I might master the art of gardening in the potential oasis I call my home. Spring does this to me, affects me in ways that stir me to my maternal soul.

There is something fulfilling about providing the care and nurturing that a garden requires. Something about the control of the new growth, claiming responsibility for the beauty, and the shame in a failed result that reminds me of motherhood. Many of us have heard the analogy of our children being the flowers in our family garden – delicate and in need of nurturing in the beginning, exposure to the elements of the world to help them grow into a strong and beautiful creation, and the occasional requirement of extra fertilizer to boost the balance resulting from growing in the wrong place exposed to toxic elements. Tending a garden is not easy, no matter what kind of plants you choose to raise.

While the mornings are still cool and I can successfully prune and weed, I think fondly of a childhood story of The Secret Garden. Discovering the fragrant trail into the abandon of a special place in nature. Developing everlasting bonds of kinship with those whom I can keep my spiritual secret. Establishing oneness with my world and feeling inspired by the nature growing around me permits my imagination to run wild. In my attempts to remain mindful and live in the moment, I can state that the garden is just that – a spot in the midst of the chaos – where I can meditate on the moment.

I have to wonder if my daughters are also become a part of my midlife Garden. My mindful flowers keeping me rooted in the moment to enjoy the meaning of my Saturday mornings. This is where I do not worry about the things I cannot control. I can only respond to what I am shown that moment. I can water, weed, and sit to enjoy the stillness. While I can claim to be the reason why my Garden flourishes or not, I really know that it is up to the ultimate Mother, the Earth. It is up to the sun and the wind and the rush of mystical sense that sweeps me up into a mindful moment of this inspirational wonder. I am but the goddess of my tiny Garden. A temporary caretaker. It is in the bigger field that my flowers will eventually grow and thrive. Each unto their own time to blossom.

In the meantime, I will continue to dig and weed and work around the clay-like soil filled with “paw-ssils”, thwarting the curious canines that serve as my entourage as I trek into the jungle that is my garden. Focusing not just on what I can do for my Garden, but what it does for me. Like I expect most gardeners believe, I would imagine the success of their cultivated and nurtured secret Garden to be like the sunflower – continually growing, always facing the light, standing tall for others to see. I can only hope that mine reseed and continue to bloom where they are planted.

Faith, Love, and the Final Frontier

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they cross the threshold into religion and faith. It is no longer teaching one’s children the secular right and wrong, but instilling the internal belief in something that guides their morals and values. For me, it was my goal to expose my children to as much diversity of belief as possible. As a mother of daughters, I wanted to be empowering. As a woman, I wanted to be unrestricted by belief. As a responsible and hopeful citizen, I wanted my views to be sensitive and looking to the future of my lifetime. I wanted my children to experience the universe in a way that they could make up their own minds. Little did I know that incorporating these factors into raising my children would be more of a challenge than I could possibly know.

Before motherhood, I was fascinated with the connection between human beings and nature, between beauty and science, and as well as logic and the art of imagination. Once I settled into motherhood, I tried hard to craft my smorgasbord of beliefs in child-sized portions so I could be prepared to answer the questions my daughters would eventually ask. But how could I explain my beliefs in a way that was simple and symbolic, without being laden with jargon that might be misconstrued? The answer came to me, straight from my childhood. Star Trek into space, the final frontier.

If you’ve never spoken to someone who loves the fandom, you may be missing out. Star Trek is symbolic of exploration and curiosity, the values of what it takes to be good neighbors and good citizens, and the unknown but exciting future represented by space: the final frontier. “These are the voyages…” Well, you know. I wanted to share with my children the hope and idealism I felt as a young girl. Despite the regular episodic challenges of retaining one’s humanity in trying circumstances, I wanted them to feel like the world held something for them, that they made a difference, and that they were bound by a responsibility to support their society in ways that did not destroy it but made it better.

I think that every parent has those moments where they worry whether their child will make it – make it home without incident, make it in the workaday world, make it with the emotional health it takes to navigate adulthood. The trials of faith we all endure once the children we love walk the walk of a responsible adult. However, I am continually reminded of my childhood and how this final frontier in space allowed me to feel like I could do anything, be anything. No matter the differences in looks, opinions, family income, social status, we were all equally equipped to join Starfleet.

Now, I hope that my daughters, despite their religious or spiritual choices, hold that same wonder for the universe and desire to explore their potential to be a good world citizen. To be a thoughtful leader in a future where they may be the minority. To know that no matter where they end up, they will make a difference and go where no (wo)man has gone before. So as I worry about my now adult children, I have faith that my belief in them, and my love of the symbolic journey to the final frontier, will lead them to the stars of their successful life.