Parents aging, a little.
Busy with changes in life lately. Roles evolve with each passing year. Relationships grow and change. Friendly faces in stores as we feel more at home in our area.
Change comes so gradually that I sometimes don't notice it. Struggles of the past somehow blur with time. I've all but forgotten about how I fretted over my now almost 11 year old's speech when she was 7. I worried she would never say "r" correctly. You would never know it today.
The clingy toddler that I would need to peeeeeel off my legs to try to finish dinner without hurting one or both of us. Now he runs off busily occupied in his own toys and sibling love.
I laugh at his antics in the store and an older woman wisely reminds me to enjoy it while it lasts because it goes to quickly. I nod my head, understanding more than she realizes.
I work more diligently to treasure these moments. I know how quickly they go as I drop off my oldest "baby" at Driver's Ed. How can it be?
And yet, I get impatient at times. When will they learn? When will the teaching sink in? When can I let up a little bit on the daily, moment-by-moment parenting needed to shape their lives?
Two illustrations help me keep a proper perspective and both are garden related.
How fruit grows
First, I heard Crawford Lorrits on the radio a while back. He said, "Don't tell your kids to be more loving." Really? He went on to explain that love is a fruit of the Spirit and they need more God in their lives for the fruit to grow. They can't just love more just by trying.
My impatience still expects it. "Love your brother," I remind them. Yet they don't, not really. Now I see that it is fruit. Fruit takes time to grow, to ripen. You can't command it to be where it is not. You can't command it to be sweet when it just needs more time on the vine. Parenting is slow work. Many changes take prayer, and lots of time and nurturing.
Finding the fruit
Other times I feel there is no fruit. The garden teaches me again. How often have I scoffed at the large leaves on my cucumber plant wishing to find just one refreshing "fruit" on the vine. I water and watch day after day and see nothing. Then, I lift a leaf. You know what I find? Cucumbers almost ripe for the picking. Half a dozen of them, yet invisible to me before I looked, really looked.
Sometimes the fruit is missed. Yes it takes time, but when it is not ready it is easily missed. Those fruits we wish to see in their lives take time, and we need to look for the results. Keep watering, keep watching, and be sure to peak under the leaves now and then.
I find the near ripe fruit in their lives when I pull back the pages of my journals and their baby books. Amazed at how they have grown. Stunned at the gentleness that blossomed without me even realizing it. Their faithfulness to read God's Word sits unnoticed on the couch, as I forget how far they have come.
Their faith is growing, their fruit is growing. My role as the gardener is to keep praying, keep tending these tender plants and new growth, and patiently keeping on through each changing and exciting season.
Galatians 6:9 reminds me to never grow weary in doing good. We will harvest that crop in due season.