Last year we were blessed with a used greenhouse. Each morning I enter the small, plastic shed to care for the thriving plants, and in my mind I am constantly making comparisons of growing plants in a greenhouse to raising children. This is what I've come up with:
Not all seeds germinate.
I have lost six babies in the womb. I refer to these little ones as my "Treasures in heaven".
Seeds sprout in their own good time.
Several of my babies were born past their due date. One was over 2 weeks late!
Caring for plants requires daily maintenance.
Caring for children is a full time job, not only the "mechanics" of preparing meals, washing clothes, bathing, and meeting physical needs, but also instructing, correcting and building relationships.
Caring for plants is messy at times.
No one will tend to your plants as well as you do.
As a former full-time working mom, I could share some hair-raising baby-sitter nightmare stories! You cannot pay someone enough money to love your children the way you do.
Seedlings require good soil, fresh air, and the right environment to grow properly. But whether they are grown in expensive pots or Styrofoam cups doesn't seem to make any difference. :)
Children require a loving home, nutritious food and boundaries in order to thrive. However, a fancy house, designer clothes, and the latest toys are not necessities of life.
Seedlings need to be sheltered. Exposure to the elements before they are ready can be detrimental.
We've been accused of “sheltering" our children, as though that were a bad thing~?! We choose to protect our children from wrong influences (be it movies, music, books or friends) and potentially harmful situations, as well as knowledge that they aren't ready for. Read It's a Suitcase Thing here.
Plants need to be protected from various pests and diseases that could hinder their growth.
I was recently asked why our children are so "different" from many children today, and I answered honestly: We don't watch television, play (or own) video games or any of the latest gadgets and gizmos. Playthings are limited to construction toys (Legos, blocks, Lincoln Logs), cars and army men (for boys) and dolls, dishes and dress-up for girls.
Young pampered seedlings that were grown in a greenhouse require an adjustment period to acclimate to outdoor conditions, prior to planting in the garden. This transition period is called "hardening off".
Though we continue to guide and advise our older children, there comes a time when they can no longer stand on our convictions alone; they must adopt beliefs and standards for themselves. It is our responsibility as parents to equip our children for the nitty-gritty of "real life", especially in the area of relationships. The older children are also encouraged to be apprised of current events and to be involved in our community.
Gardening, like parenting, is not based solely on "instinct". Though some people may have more of a "green thumb" than others, everyone can glean wisdom from experienced, successful gardeners.
We have been blessed to have godly parents in our midst; wise mommas and daddies we can learn from. We have also discovered parenting wisdom and truth from various books and online community.
Greenhouse gardening has been a wonderful learning experience. And just like parenting, it has been fun, rewarding, and challenging at times. As the season draws near to transplant the full-grown seedlings, I find myself wanting to savor these last days.
Soon the greenhouse will be empty.
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