Waiting Patiently


I have a black thumb.

It is charcoal enough that at age 2 1/2, Cole walked into a house, pointed with confusion wrinkling his face and asked “what is that?” “It’s a plant.” “I know. But why is it inside?”

With that background I hope you will appreciate that there is a plant in Eleanor’s room. And it is still alive. I’m not exactly sure when it came home–she planted it sometime during her preschool career. I do remember groaning with anticipated failure. At this point it is at least four year old, possibly six. And yet that isn’t the miracle.

The miracle is, this summer, it blossomed. One. Tiny. Flower.

We were astonished. Gobsmacked. We laughed with good natured bewilderment.

Then the petals wilted and fell to the floor.

Then it blossomed again. again. again. and again. One blossom at a time. Always from the same spot.

Then nothing.

And then this morning — again. As the care-taker for this plant, I can assure you, I’ve done nothing differently over all these years. It is in the same pot. Same dirt. No fertilizer. It gets a juice-glass-cup of water every Friday morning. (well, the majority of Friday mornings. This is me we’re talking about).

The stimulus is the same. It is the plant that changed. Something about it was suddenly ready to flower.

We hear the analogy often. Our children are like plants, blooming where they are planted. It is more than that. They bloom when they are ready.

Which leaves us waiting. Waiting. Waiting for them to sleep through the night. Or swim without arm floaties. Or balance on a bike. Or stop using that tone of voice.

And the waiting feels like forever. (Especially when we’re chest-deep in the too-chilly pool). And sometimes we lose our perspective. And sometimes we lose our temper. And sometimes it feels like we’re going to lose our mind.

Because waiting is hard work. It is our work. Waiting is the developmental work of parenthood.




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It took, conservatively, 208 cups of water and 1460 days before we saw a single blossom. That’s a lot of water. And waiting. And a lot of patience. And in the meantime? We’ve added an additional nine plants. All of which are still alive.

What have you been waiting for? And how are you keeping steady as you wait? Or where are you feeling stuck? We each have a story. I’d love to hear yours.

P.S. Anyone know what kind of plant it is? I’m, not surprisingly, clueless.

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