I am not a gardener. Not by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. But I can think of one particular flower I have always been proud of: The zinnia I planted in class and brought home for mother’s day when I was about seven years old.
I look back at this picture of me after having planted the zinnia in our brown flower garden, and I can tell I was proud of myself for a couple of reasons.
- Look at that flower! It’s tall, and red, and beautiful! As evidenced by the surrounding foliage, clearly a green thumb is not in our family’s bag of tricks. This flower was a feat of gargantuan effort.
- My hair is brushed! This is a big deal because I am ashamed to say I didn’t brush my hair regularly until I was probably in high school. And on at least one occasion, my mother followed through with the typically-empty-threat that she would cut my hair if I didn’t take care of it. But look at how fluffy and pretty my hair could be!
- I’m wearing a coordinated outfit. Man, I was hot stuff with my drop-waist sailor outfit, matching tights and white shoes. This flower was changed my whole outlook an beauty and where I could fit into it. That outlook lasted about as long as the zinnia’s bloom.
This is my seventh mother’s day without being able to call my mother (hopefully I didn’t forget!). Seven years. That sounds like a long time, but it feels like just a couple.
I find it interesting that we as parents try so hard to give our children more than we had, and to make our children better than we were, but when I look back at my mother, the things I see are her patience, her laughter, her sacrifices – all things I could do better at as a mother.
I know, I know… every mother compares her weaknesses against another mother’s strengths. I guess this year I just find myself wishing for those seven years of being mothered. Would I recognize and appreciate and make use of them if I had them back. Most certainly not. I suppose that’s the irony of wanting what you can’t have.