I thought I was doing alright with this. I’ve heard lots of good advice from friends and have plenty to keep me busy so it was easy to feel “intellectually” ready. That was until I read the bulletin at church. The Outreach Team posted a plea for help serving college kids dinner on Sunday nights. The announcement said the campus dining hall closes then so this effort was started as an outreach.
I got flustered the minute I read it. What no dinner Sunday nights? How will Luke survive? He’s a three squares a day kid plus snacks. Between his strength training and tennis the amount of food required to fuel him up in a day is more than his grandmother eats in a week. He can’t skip dinner Sunday night. What if he doesn’t find out about the free meal or feel comfortable going? If he has to buy dinner on Sunday nights he’ll run through his spending money fast. What’s he going to do?
So went the rolling message board in my brain and the neon was blinding me. I can’t remember what the sermon was about. I think prayer and Lord knows I was praying now. My maternal instincts were on overdrive. Thank goodness Luke was out of town for a tournament or I would have immediately fixed the problem by telling him he’d have to come home Sunday nights for dinner.
Instead Chase and I went to the nursery after church because I needed to talk to the master gardener about my tomatoes. I’d discovered the night before they have Yellow Shoulder. All the remedies on the Internet were so confusing I had no idea what to do. I had to fight back tears when every tomato I cut open had a yellow ring inside it and no flavor. I’ve been nurturing these plants from seedling to adult for months protecting them from rain, snow, sleet, hail and wind. It was gardening heartbreak.
Several experts had to be consulted and the owner got online to find out more. Was it the plants, soil, weather or some other environmental factor? Every possibility was being weighed when finally the nursery’s farm hand asked how often I was watering my plants.
“Every morning,” I answered.
“Oh my goodness,” he said. “You’re drowning them.”
“But it’s so hot they wilt when I don’t,” I protested.
“So let them. They’re mature enough now. They won’t die. You have to let them get thirsty.”
I had to sit down. I started feeling faint.
Dennis the owner of the nursery started to laugh.
“It’s okay mom,” he said. “You can do it.”
How did he know what I was thinking about on my way to the garden center I thought? To tell a mother not to worry about her babies whether they’re plants or children is like telling her not to breathe.
“I don’t get it,” I said. The plants look beautiful. They’re green, leafy, and very hearty. They don’t look like they’re drowning. They’re the best looking plants I’ve ever grown.”
“Yes, but they’re not meant to be flowers. They’re meant to produce fruit and the best fruit comes from struggling,” he said.
Confronted with something that now seemed obvious I felt stupid. Dennis had told me something I know about the life of a believer but hadn’t considered for a tomato and certainly didn’t want to accept for my son. Skip a day of watering—skip a meal that’s not how I’m wired.
“How often should I water them?” I asked.
“Every four to five days,” he said.
“That’s going to be hard for me.”
“I know but you want the fruit to be good so you will,” he said smiling.
He was right and the penny I spotted while we were talking reminded me this is a leap of faith I have to make. I didn’t plant the garden to harvest something of little value and I didn’t have a child for that same reason either. I want the fruit to have flavor—some depth and character which is the same thing I want for Luke.
So, I have to let go. I have to resist the impulse to smother and let him figure it out with dinner and lots of other things. Like the plants in my garden he’s been well cared for. His roots are deep and he can weather the heat. Be it a night on his own for dinner, a troublesome roommate, hard class, or even being apart from me the stretch is his to make not mine. He might have to dig deep within himself to handle it all but that’s where he’ll grow because as my garden seems to want to remind me—the best seasoning in life is born from struggle.