Maybe the snails did me a favor

Every year, I plant impatiens in one little area of my yard.  It’s a corner under a lovely Japanese maple, right near a kitschy figurine of a happy frog.  It’s an area with a lot of shade, so when the flowers bloom – red, lavender, fuschia, white – the vivid color is absolutely striking.

I planted them about six weeks ago, and settled in happily to wait for them to flourish.

I got one good bloom, and then something – I suspect those neighborhood ruffians, the snails – vandalized them.  Leaves were chomped off, petals were shredded, and a full half of them ended up as mere shadows of their former selves.

I was tempted to replace the damaged plants.  At about $1.99 for a six-pack, it would not have been a huge investment.  But then I decided I’d just apply Miracle-Gro, cut back the damaged part, and wait to see what happens.

And guess what?  They’re blooming again.

The whole story seems like a metaphor for so many things in my life.  In my haste to make things happen now, it’s so easy to get impatient and to pull up the tender little thing that just needs a little time and space and TLC to flourish.  I do this with my writing, sometimes; if an article doesn’t seem to be going with quite  the speed I’d wanted, I’ll sometimes move on entirely instead of giving it a little more time to hit its stride.  I’ve also had times of prayer when it starts off feeling  dry and rote and so I bag it all and go watch that DVR’d episode of Frasier instead of embracing the process.    That’s not to say that every stunted thing is eventually going to burst into glorious bloom, but I do have to recognize that my tendency is often to pull things up by the roots just a little bit prematurely.  Sometimes, it’s good to sit on my hands and wait.

One of the great things about motherhood, in fact, is that it trains you to give things time.  When my kids are annoying, I can’t just drop them off at the neighbor’s house and board the next plane to Anywhere But Here (even though, believe me, that sounds pretty tempting at times).  I wait it out, whatever “it” is – the tantrum, the stomach flu, the potty-training that seems to move in geological time.   And I have never been sorry that I did.   Just like those little flowers under the maple tree, there’s a beautiful reward if you can just hang in there.

How fitting that impatiens made me reflect upon patience.

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