Ageless Wisdom

“You just don’t understand.” I screamed, “You never want me to grow up!” slamming the car door as I got out. My mom quietly sat in the car for several more moments. I could tell she was as frustrated as I was. Our conversations lately have been anything but conversations. It seemed we couldn’t talk without a battle of wills that ended in a stand off. Mom was old fashioned and didn’t understand things in the real world. I was eager and ready to take on life. I was, after all, almost sixteen.

Time travels forward whether we are ready or not and I have recently completed raising two children and survived that “almost sixteen” age. I too was told I was old fashioned and didn’t really understand the world today. I can almost see my mom chuckle as I struggled through the same conversations I inflicted on her.

Today I’m sitting in the garden under a large arbor my son and my husband built as a gift for Mother’s Day. It’s a wonderful place to sit to contemplate the past and the future. I often sought solace here under the arbor following those dreadful discussions with my teens. There were times when we each walked away feeling battered and I wondered if in fact I really was too old-fashioned.

Planted beside the arbor posts are two Chinese Wisteria vines. I remember the day I placed great hopes in them as I covered their roots and faithfully watered them. I could hardly wait to see what maturity would bring.

Prior to planting the precious vines, it was essential to build the arbor they would climb on. We sunk strong weather-resistant posts deep into the ground to support the anticipated weight. We then set solid sturdy uprights to hold the cross boards intended to prop up and maintain the tender new shoots directing their development. All this planning seemed a bit overdone for at the moment these vines were no bigger around than a pencil and only twelve inches long. But I trusted the old gardener I’d bought them from and did as I was told. He warned me to prepare for vigorous growth or the vines would take over the garden destroying anything they could climb over.

Time passed and the little vines grew. Daily I trained the new growth to lean on the posts for support. Sometimes I had to restrain and other days I had to use my clippers to cut away the wild growth that wouldn’t yield to direction. I watched for suckers that needed to be immediately cut away to prevent energy being drained from the new vine. Selectively I allowed the strong vines to continue, carefully trimmed away the unruly growth, and the wisteria climbed the posts. I wove the vines within the cross boards until it was completely filled in.

Today sitting beneath its protective cover, not only is it strong, but it produces the most amazing purple flowers that hang like heavy grape clusters. The little vine is now a thick, sturdy tree; so sturdy, in fact it doesn’t need the posts any more to support it. If with age and weather the posts fade away, the wisteria will remain upright, solid and sure.

Smiling, I realize mothers are much like the posts of my arbor. For a time, we support the young vines guiding and directing, pruning and restraining, clipping and watering; stimulating sturdy development

Mothers and gardeners have a way of placing their dreams and hopes in little shoots, but it takes a serious commitment to produce successful blooms. I understand today that my mother was not old-fashioned and truly did understand the world I lived in. I’m thankful she was diligent to restrain, retrain, water, and prune my life. Her support of me was the post that directed my life. And although my gratefulness may be many years later, I am thankful for her trials and efforts on my behalf.

My heart was warmed this year to hear from my own children that although they at the time hated my restraints, they are thankful I cared enough to cultivate the best in them.

I pray that one day my children’s children will praise their efforts in parenting. I further pray my children, as parents will lovingly prune and stand firm in order to be a sturdy post for my grandchildren.

But for the moment I giggle with secret delight when I realize my children will have children that will slam doors and call them old fashioned. Perhaps I’ll share a seat on my bench, under the wisteria vine and remind them of the secret of the ageless vines. We’ll laugh together as I tell them that although these times are tough their children too will survive their parenting.

*From: Lessons From the Garden: Seeds of Wisdom for Parents