This is a picture of Jackson and a homegrown zucchini. Josh’s second attempt at a vegetable garden was certainly a successful one, which came from a greater desire of ours to simplify, better, and strengthen our life.
We didn’t realize it at the time, but before Jackson was born, we weren’t grownups. Many necessary things were in tact–our goals, ambitions, jobs, our relationship–but the things we value now are completely different than what they used to be. People lovingly warn young couples that having a child changes life so drastically and to be prepared for the shift; but, for us, we didn’t just shift in a particular direction, we created almost an entirely different life. We have a whole different perspective on God, on responsibility, on purpose, on truth, on food and money and boundaries and dreams and friends and church…and everything that’s changed (and it still changing) has enriched our lives, strengthened our marriage, and made us better suited for parenting and for the big, big world.
The thing is, I beat myself up constantly at not being as “together” as others, not having a budget down to the penny, not knowing when I’m going to work, not having every piece to the puzzle in it’s precise place. I always want to be the Tupperware mom, which is to say that every detail is so effortlessly organized–from Tupperware cabinets to weekly menus to spiritual formation–that life feels like gliding rather than a start-n-stop race. Unrealistic, I know. But I often feel that way nonetheless.
But this zucchini picture was a huge wake-up call for me. The little boy in the picture is mine. He is alive and happy and healthy. He is bright and smart. He has a mom that knows how to cook now. He eats a variety of pureed vegetables in his diet and his parents read to him every night. His doctor tells me how much she admires our relationship, that our bond fills the little white room during his check-ups. Why do I pick apart the things I want to improve, when I should sit back and see not only how far I’ve come, but also what a great job Josh and I are doing?
In Colorado, just four years ago, I had an unused kitchen and probably got out my spatchula ten times in two years. I didn’t know how to sew, couldn’t keep an apartment clean (much less a whole house), and didn’t write except for the occasional burst of poetry inspiration. I wasn’t responsible for anyone but myself, and I considered that a full time job. The thought of maintaining a home, raising a child, growing vegetables, weeding a garden, partnering with a church, and having a freezer stocked full of purees and a sewing machine would have intimidated me beyond belief. Maybe even scared me. I can’t believe I’m part of it now. I’ve put in the time and the sweat to create a better life and version of myself, and I’d like to carve out a little moment for myself to be proud of it. I’m proud that Josh uses a push mower instead of an electric one, that he wants to start shopping at Goodwill to save money and resources. I’m proud that he grows vegetables, and I’m proud that I hunt down antique fabrics for sewing projects. I’m proud that Jack knows his animals, colors, and numbers. I’m proud that we completed our partnership studies to join our church, and that I grated that huge zucchini to make loaves of bread. This all means so much to me, and it’s a beautiful moment when you realize that your efforts have produced results.
There’s still a heaviness that can hang over our home because we haven’t arrived at where we want to be, we haven’t implemented all of our new strategies to be the best adult version of ourselves yet. We stumble, fail, revise. But, overall, I’m pretty darn proud of the little man in the chair, of the life that is being built beneath and around him, and of the huge zucchini that came from his backyard.