A Good Home, Family, Family Matriarch, Gardening, Gratitude, Home, Inspiration, Life in canada, Lifestyle, Mothering, Mothers, Non-fiction writing, Parents, Raising Children, Relationships, Spring Bulbs, Thanks, Tulips

Mother’s Day in the Garden

One garden here at the old farmhouse is extra-special. 

Partly shaded by a large red maple, it has two dogwood trees, two purple lilacs, a Japanese maple and a forsythia shrub. The Japanese maple was stuck there “temporarily” but was somehow forgotten and has outgrown its spot.

Blog Photo - Spring Trees and Flowers

“One of these days, I’ll have to move it,” my husband says. But that tree is so big now that I suspect it’s not going anywhere.

Hydrangea shrubs and tree peonies also flourish here.

Blog Photo - Lilacs and forget Me Nots

In front of them are smaller plants: Solomon’s seal; ferns; the intriguingly shaped “Jack-in the Pulpit”; the occasional trillium (Ontario’s official flower); may apples and another woodland plant whose name I never learned.

Solomon's Seal
Solomon’s Seal

Pink tulips come up every spring, as do daffodils, astilbe, and hosta. It’s the only garden bed that’s home to such a variety of characters: woodland, shade, and sun-loving plants.

Blog Photo - Mama's Garden1

No wonder it’s called “Mama’s Garden”.  The children she mothered are a variety of characters too.

Throughout the spring, pink lamium borders one side of Mama’s Garden, while blue forget-me-nots border the other. Recently, though, they’ve both strayed into the path.

“Your garden would look better if I could weed the path regularly”, I apologize to Mama.

And I can hear her voice saying: “Ah, m’dear. It’ll get done. Right now, there are more important things on your plate.”

Blog Photo - Mama's Garden front arbor

My husband named the garden in tribute to Mama’s great love of gardening.

Blog Photo - Mama's Garden - CR and mug of coffee

My mother died several years ago.

On every Mother’s Day since, I head out to Mama’s Garden, no matter what the weather, no matter what condition I’m in. I bring a sturdy mug of coffee, walk through the entrance arbour and down the short pathway, looking at the growing things around me.

I sit on the stone bench at the back of the garden.

“Thank you, Mama,” I say.

Blog Photo - Clematis on Arbor

There are so many things to thank her for.  

So I thank her and I thank God for her, and sometimes the talk with Mama gets mixed in with the prayer and it feels like the beings I am talking to are one and the same, but I don’t think either Mama or God would mind.

I give thanks.

Blog Photo - Mama's Garden CU of CR

For a mother who loved and tended her family.  For a mother who taught us the importance of growing things.  And for a mother whose love and faith live on in our hearts.

Blog Photo - Tulips Hosta and Forget Me Nots

Garden photos by Hamlin Grange. Photos of Cynthia by Dale Ratcliffe.

 

This post is dedicated to my mother and mother-in-law, who mothered not just their own children, but all our cousins and friends when they needed mothering too.

Happy Mother’s day, and happy belated Mothering Sunday, to all women who tend and care for children.

 

A Good Home, Family, Mothering, Parents, Raising Children

My Proudest Achievement – Part 1

At the pinnacle of my career some years ago – and about to receive another award for outstanding achievement – a television interviewer asked me:

“What is your proudest achievement?”

I looked at her smiling face, at the cameras and lights surrounding us,  at the bare studio floors — and paused only slightly.

Thanks to: publicdomainpictures.net
publicdomainpictures.net

“Raising children who have become strong, decent adults.”

She stared back, surprised. It was not the answer she was expecting.

I knew she was expecting me to mention my professional achievements.  The award-winning television programs. Contributions to the media industry in Canada and other countries. Championing new program methods and technology. Mentoring women and cultural minorities in the sector.  Helping to transform South African public television after apartheid.

But she hadn’t asked me to identify my biggest career achievement. She’d asked about my proudest achievement, and I had answered truthfully.

Was that a look of disappointment I saw on her face? That a woman who had come of age during the recent years of the women’s movement, the years when we fought hard for gender equity in the workplace — that a woman who had climbed those challenging ranks, moving up from one influential role to the next – that such a woman should, after all that, point to raising children as her proudest achievement?

I didn’t mean to disappoint her. I didn’t mean to suggest to someone in the early years of her career that mothering should be her greatest aspiration.

I was simply voicing my own truth.

Not that I’d always known it. There were times when I was being lauded for my career achievements and I got a big head, and could feel myself getting high on my own supply.

publicdomainpictures.net
publicdomainpictures.net

But now I had been there, done that and won all the career accolades. And, upon reflection — as I thought about all the things that I had done with my life — I knew my answer as surely as I knew my own name.

**

Parenting was the thing for which I’d never received an award – and rightly so.  Indeed, I was still struggling at it. Parenting may come easily to some people. Not me.

Just a few days before, I’d rushed to give one daughter advice when all she’d needed was a listening ear.

A week before that, I’d missed an opportunity to hang out with my other daughter, only to realize later that I could and should have gone. I’d remembered too late, my mother’s advice: “When your children invite you to spend time with them, drop everything else and go.”

Ironic, then, that I should name parenting as my proudest achievement.

My mother, despite her academic brilliance, had given up her own dreams of becoming a professional teacher. Money was scarce after her father’s unexpected death.

Instead of going to teachers’ college, my mother had married, borne five children and become a seamstress – designing and sewing dresses for the ladies of our village, something she did at home.

She was a loving mother; a great mother. But I vowed that my own life would be different.  I wasn’t sure if I’d have children, but I knew that I’d have a career, one that took place outside the home.

image via brolero.com
image via brolero.com

Coming up next:  Part 2 – The Juggling Act