I’ve never been much of a gardener. In fact, I can take an ‘impossible to kill’ plant and it can be dead in my presence within a few months, if not weeks. I’m just not much on paying attention to these things when there are so many other things on my to-do list. It’s absolutely awful for the plant…dying a slow painful death as I scurry around doing all the other equally important things. Occasionally, I throw in a cup of water, but by then, the damage is done and the plant is starting to realize it’s attached to a very poor caregiver.
But, this post really isn’t about plants and you know it – especially if you follow me at all. As with most of my writing, I like to grab you with a good old metaphor, and killing something seems to be all the rage these days.
My ‘seeds’ are actually minutes. And minutes are really scarce these days. I’ve been extremely cognizant lately on the lack of ‘time’ I seem to have. I know I have the same amount of minutes that everyone else has, but I’m in a stage of my life – as are many of my peers – where it seems that there are not enough minutes in the day to fit in everything that has to be managed.
I, for one, am a single parent with little help in raising my son with special needs from the other parent. In fact, the term ‘co-parenting’ only seems to apply when we are arguing over what is financially covered by whom in the court-ordered parenting plan. My ex sees his child four days a month – when he isn’t out doing something ‘more important’ while the new girlfriend watches said child – so yeah. Not much help. Additionally, I work full time during the day, run a part-time business in the evenings, and like a lot of folks, am facing the uncertainty of what virtual learning and ‘school’ will look like come next week. Granted, my son is only in the 2nd grade so it isn’t as if the work will be hard but it certainly will require time. Top this all off with daily tasks of laundry, meal prep, house cleaning, and showering (yes, I haven’t given up on showering yet even if it is at midnight) what I’m left with at the end of the day is about 10 minutes of unaccounted for time. You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. I gave up lunch to type this post.
Just like it’s hard to have a bountiful crop without seeds, it’s hard to nurture relationships when time is a commodity. Sadly, I recently abandoned a romantic relationship because I didn’t feel I had the time to really invest in meeting my partner’s needs. I’m a firm believer in early programming and my early programming was “You’ll make time for things that are important.” Clearly, the asshole saying this to a generation of people hadn’t experienced a global pandemic, schooled at home while working from home, and attempted to raise a child with little help from another adult. But, alas, there I was: Standing in the bathroom trying to determine if I actually had time to shave my legs or if I wanted to use that fifteen minutes to make a sandwich. It was at that point that I realized I had to say no to something. Yes – something had to give and by God, it wasn’t going to be me giving up anymore sandwiches (yes, another metaphor).
I know if I really dug deep and examined my feelings…I was resentful that someone who had extra time wasn’t using that time to help me but rather asking me to give up any extra time I had. In other words, he wanted my spare time to meet his needs…not asking what I needed to do with my spare time or if he could cut the time spent on day-to-day tasks in half. In all honesty, in the middle of Life my spare time right now is what I’m using to shower and brush my teeth. Yes – I’m being overly dramatic, but I hope you catch the drift. Time, like money, has to be budgeted. And, as with all budgets, my time budget and my buckets were empty.
But bringing it back to my point which is seeds and plants and time and harvest, etc. etc. etc. I pondered this today.
We all are responsible for our time and responsible for how we spend our time. Some have the luxury of lazy Sundays where napping and road trips can be taken. Many of us, myself included, do not have the seeds to sow into something so glorious regularly because there are so many responsibilities where we have to prune the proverbial To-Do list. If, like plants, relationships require cultivation then the plan to grow and water those relationships should be a two-way street. If one person feels like they are giving up all their seeds but there is no watering going on…then the seeds are essentially wasted. And wasting energy and effort builds resentment just like planting seeds in infertile soil brings no harvest. It’s like in this TedTalk by Sarah Knight I love so much. You have to decide what to or not to budget for. Painfully, even if you love and desire all the things on the list of wants and desires, sometimes there just aren’t enough seeds left to plant.
For example: I’m not really much of a girlie-girl, but I am a self-care splurge girl. I LOVE getting massages and facials and pedicures. But I’m not going to risk my food budget or the money I need to provide for my son constantly spending it on – what I feel – are non-essentials (and I’m a massage therapist, so there!!).
As a mother of a special needs child – albeit a “high functioning” one – my first responsibility is to care for his needs. Before you get all ‘therapist-y’ on me…caring for his needs also means caring for my own. I need to rest. I need to eat well. I need to move my body. I need to sow seeds into myself so that I can be strong and healthy for him. Everyone else…anyone who isn’t me or my son…is responsible for their own damn row of seeds. I cannot meet everyone’s needs and neither can you. Because I have a lot of friends who have grown children (I’m a ‘late in life mom’) I know this is difficult for people who have disposable income and disposable time to understand. So, I just stopped trying to explain it. But let me tell you…guilting me into giving up some of my seeds just isn’t something that works on someone like me. If I’m honest…that kind of stuff is one of the best ways to piss me off. My seeds. My choice.
The bottom line (’cause you know I’m a bottom line girl) is that time is currency. Time, clearly in this post, are seeds. If you want a bountiful harvest and a good life, you have to determine where to plant those little seeds and you need to plant them in the ground that is good and ripe for harvest. Dharius Daniels in this sermon says it best:
“Time is the seed you must sow and the currency you must exchange to experience the life you want to have. The life that you want to have is going to be determined by how you sow the seed of your time. When you look at your life this time next year and compare it to this year, you’re going to be standing in a harvest that is a result of where you sowed the seed of your time.”
I don’t know what my harvest will look like next year, but I know I had to make a conscious choice to look at my priorities and stack them up against my resources. What I realized after looking at these two lists was a very real, very honest picture: I can have a very small, but mighty, garden.
I don’t know all the answers. If I did I’d make a shit-ton more money at blogging instead of zero. And because I’m a people-pleaser with guilt-issues, I wish I had all the seeds in the world to sow into all the relationships connected to those I love. But I don’t. And when I look at the people in my life, I look for the helpers – not the complainers – to lift me up and to restore me. Life is too short and time is too valuable to spend on wondering why my needs aren’t getting met while everyone else demands that I meet theirs. It just isn’t humanly possible to do it all.
So. Pick a seed (minute). Pick a row (hobby, person, experience, task) and plant. Plant, then water. Water, then watch. Watch what grows. It might be you, who knows. The harvest you reap may not only surprise you but everyone else around you, too. Happy planting.