I often find myself angry and resentful while doing outdoor gardening chores. In the summer heat, I find myself angry at my husband. I think, “What has he done for me lately? (Cue Janet.) When is he ever going to help?” He’s inside on his computer or watching TV while I pull weeds, edge beds, or combat that aggressive vine I planted five or six years ago. He mows the lawn, and that is the extent of his outdoor activity. I have neglected my health and become depressed in the last few years. This summer every time I go outside to do some work, I hurt myself. I’ve had the kind of injuries that take a couple of weeks of lying flat on my back to heal. Needless to say, it’s frustrated me to no end.
To motivate (or placate) myself, I remind myself that I am living the dream. Since I was seventeen, I dreamed of owning a home on some land with room for a vegetable garden. A home where I could grow my own cut flowers. My mother subscribed to Martha Stewart Living magazine for me. I consumed that magazine; often reading the gardening articles over and over.
We lived in a condominium on the third floor. My mother gardened on the balcony. She loved caring for her plants, her children, and any critters her children brought home. She sometimes longed for a garden plot.
Fast forward almost 20 years and here I am. A city dweller on a bit of land I can call my own. My head is filled with gardening theories. I never stopped reading about growing things. I thought the transition would be easy. I would finally have the garden of my dreams. Of course, when we rented that three level townhouse in Virginia–with a teeny tiny back yard–anything I decided to plunk in the ground would grow like mad! Here in South Carolina the pesky rye grass and centipede grass grow faster than anything, although the weeds give them good competition.
My resentment has taken the form of neglecting our home, and saddling my teenage daughter with all the responsibility of making meals. Anyone with any housewife experience will know that the mess just gets worse, and the joke is really on you because you’re the one who will have to set things to right again. And, yes, everything outside JUST KEEPS GROWING.
Another form of my resentment is complaining…about my husband. My sweet girlfriends listen to me and give well meaning advice such as: you have to ask your husband to help you. One friend went so far as to tell me that our husbands are our helpmates: it’s their job to help us. 😛 (Wrong, but well meaning.) The thing is: he bought this house for me. He knew I wanted to garden. He knew I wanted the extra room for a craft room. I knew that he hates being outdoors except for his daily run.
On a day when I had a million chores awaiting my attention, I decided to make my husband’s lunch like I used to do. I took care preparing his customary salad, washed some raspberries for his dessert, and added a little bar of sea salted dark chocolate. I set it all on a tray, so it would be ready when he took his break for lunch. And you know what? It made ME feel better. I went outside that day with peace in my heart. I remembered the joy that working outside gives me. I recalled the pride I feel when my garden and home is well kept BY ME. I made a startling discovery: even though I don’t FEEL like blessing my husband, something happens in my heart when I do it anyway. 🙂
Sure, one day I will truly need help, but that day is far in the future. Today I thank God for my health and my wealth and the energy to set things right in and around my home. I also thank God for the reminder that it truly is better to give than to receive.