When the first week of February rolls around, I always think of my mom, the gardener. She taught me that here in Texas, we should prune our roses on Valentine’s Day. So this week, I went out to take a look at my roses. I remember them from last summer like the photo above. But the reality is more like the photo below. . .
Which got me to thinking about pruning in parenthood. Have you noticed that we like to remember the past season in an idyllic sort of way? It was lovely, fun, bright, joy-filled playing at the park. Their little elbows were so darling! Forgotten are “bath time” and fits thrown at the edge of the sand box. We are reluctant to end such a season. We don’t really want to prune. We don’t really want to acknowledge that some of what was vibrant and lively before has now past its prime. A clue that we may be stuck there is when our teen hurls, “Mom, you just don’t understand!!!”
But my mother taught me a few things about pruning which have easy application to parenting in new seasons:
- to NOT prune dooms the plant to struggle putting on new growth through old, dried dead branches;
- pruning is best done with careful timing, between the cold dead of winter and the burst of new life in spring. . . we have to watch changing weather to get it right;
- as we prune, we look carefully for “growth nodes,” places where the plant is already beginning to grow. Just above those natural growth points is where we make our trim. The growth of the plant determines its new shape as we prune the branch so that the new growth will face outward, growing away from the core of the plant;
- after pruning, we feed and water the plant, anticipating the coming season of growth which awaits, even if it is currently cold and dreary;
- finally, we step back and wait. The plant’s imperative is growth, to stretch, to put on new leaves and yes, even to bloom again in the fresh season.
There are so many cycles of growth and pruning and waiting involved in being a good parent: changing friends in middle school, realizing that one needs to actually study to learn, moving away from crazy friends, accepting responsibility for mistakes and for successes. Like the rose bush, our kids are meant for growth; it is their way of being. They don’t grow up because we make them. They don’t seek independence because we push. They do that because built into who they are, they hear an imperative. . . it beckons them with “on my own.” And so, they grow.
In this season of new growth, look for it in your kids. Prune away old expectations you may have had which are limiting them in the new healthy ways they may be growing. Most of all, have confidence that brilliant beauty beckons from the new season of your lives. It begins with the tiniest new leaves. . . .