Therefore, I’ve been slowly and stealthily replacing my stash: a violet here, a Christmas cactus there.
Most of these I’ve purchased at the grocery store when I’ve got fussy children in the cart and feel inclined to reward myself.
But the other day I transferred my spider plant to a clay pot and left it out on our picnic table. The mild weather changed overnight, and the spider plant took a beating: torrential rain, cold, and wind. I brought it inside and set it on top of the fridge, believing it had survived most of the damage.
But then the fronds started turning brown at the tips. Some of them had snapped in the wind. The spider plant looked like a bedraggled teenager in need of a haircut.
I’ve been meaning and meaning to snip off those dead ends, but time has gotten away from me. Part of that is because it’s just been a challenging week.
Maybe I should blame Daylight Saving. Maybe I should blame the pull of the moon or the tides or the suited man who gave each of my daughters three Dum Dums lollipops at the bank. But the fact is that, lately, parenting has made me realize just how little patience I have . . . how much more I have to learn.
An hour ago, for instance, at two p.m. on Saturday, I had just put my two-year-old down for a nap. But she was not napping. Instead, she was sprawled across the threshold of the room she shares with her sister, kicking her feet against the door and yelling because she didn’t want to sleep.
I, being a long-suffering mother, ignored her and carefully climbed up on a step stool to reach the spider plant above the fridge. I snipped and clipped as my five-year-old called from the bathroom, “WIPE! ME!”
I called back, over the roar of my two-year-old’s cries, “You know how to wipe yourself!”
“NO! I! DON’T! I! POOPED!”
So, I set down my kitchen scissors and climbed carefully down off the step stool.
I waddled back the hall and took care of business. My eldest daughter and I returned to the kitchen, and she watched me as I climbed back up and snipped and clipped. It took five minutes to transform that droopy spider plant into something with attitude.
I sat down at the kitchen table; one of the first times I’d sat down in hours. My five-year-old wanted a snack because she saw I was eating a Kind bar. So, I made her an apple with peanut butter. Then I made myself some raspberry leaf tea, and I made her some, too.
Even now, as I’m typing this, my very affectionate five-year-old is leaning against me, and I think that parenting is simultaneously the most rewarding and most draining job in the world.
And yet, every time I choose to hug instead of rolling my eyes, choose to not raise my voice even when my child’s behavior deserves it, choose to extend a level of grace that was once, no doubt, extended to me, I am allowing those frost-bitten, wind-burnt, water-logged places of my character to get snipped away, one leaf at a time, and soon no one will be even able to tell that those places were there.
How are you going to snip away the dead parts of your character this week?