The Observer

It’s April. That month may not mean much to most folks, but in our family it’s a pretty big deal. No family birthday, no anniversaries, no big ceremonies. But there is one important thing that happens during the month of April. It’s garden growing time.  

Three years ago, we made box gardens. I found a picture on Pinterest (because where else would you look to find cute box gardens?) and my husband designed the six boxes that hold what I lovingly call “my plants that I love more than people.” -- That’s a joke. Or maybe not.

Because here’s how this plays out. There’s a fence around my garden about waist high to keep out critters (like the plethora of rabbits that seem to multiply like crazy around our neighborhood). When we planned the garden, I knew I needed a fence to keep out critters, stray balls, and protect tender plants. 

What I didn’t think about is that when you have a waist-high fence, if kids come around calling for you, you can duck down and pretend like you’re nowhere around. Here’s how that plays out. 

Typical family scenario: “Mom? Mom, where are you? Mom, (insert name of any kid here) just tripped me while we were playing basketball. Mom? Mom?”

The kid’s name can be any kid. And the complaint can be any complaint. Somebody pushed, pulled, kicked, licked (for real!), looked at me the wrong way. And they walk the entire perimeter of our house, looking to tell the person who is currently hiding from all the voices trying to tattle on each other. 

If I sit on the edge of a box in my garden, I’m completely hidden by the fence. Unless they open the gate, they have no idea I’m outside with them. In their search for me, they typically eventually forget their complaint, and give up hope that I care. 

Which can I just be honest? With five kids ages 8-13, the complaints and tattles and bickering get real exhausting. Real fast. I’ve tried a lot of things, but the most effective mom move is to simply hide and let them forget what they’re complaining about. It’s maybe not the advice given in any parenting book, but in this girl’s book, it’s a tried and true tactic. 

So, back to April. And gardening. If you’re a fresh tomato/cucumber/bell pepper/zucchini/squash lover, you know this is the month when you’re anxiously waiting for your summer veggie plants to start producing. All the plants are in the soil, and I’m watering, looking for bugs, and basically praying that some Miracle-Gro miracles happen (not that I use that stuff because real vegetable gardeners don’t use that stuff. Wink, wink). 

I’ve toured guests through my garden, whether they wanted to see what was growing or not. It’s like the mom with the newborn that shows pictures to complete strangers. It just happens. I show my garden, and realize after I’ve shown them one, two or twenty pictures that people really don’t care. 

But watching and waiting for good things to grow in a space that used to be a slice of green grass makes my heart happier than I ever imagined. Pulling weeds is cheap therapy, and going work in my garden is way more tempting than cooking dinner. Or cleaning. Or just about anything I’m supposed to be doing. I go out in the mornings and again in the afternoons. Just in case something changed while I was away at work, you know? 

There’s the sign that hangs on the garden wall: May Good Things Grow Here. It’s a prayer of mine while I’m pulling weeds and whispering to my little plants. It’s a prayer of mine for the kids running around while I hide out in my own little space. There’s a lot of waiting and whispered prayers. And gardening reminds me that all good things take a while to grow.