October 4, 2013

Getting Real : Why We Quit Gardening {and aren't looking back}

and aren't looking back

That, my friends, was our garden in its glory days.  A place of order and life.  A place where children might have learned self sufficiency skills and a love of nature, and where two parents might have felt proud of the fruits of the labors.  A place that never really existed.  I mean, that IS my garden and that's my kids in it, but this picture is kind of a lie.  It doesn't even hint at what having that garden really felt like.

Do you ever stop and look at your life and think Why am I doing this?  I can't stand this?  That's where my husband and I are lately.  We've been looking at our lives and realizing that somehow we got wrapped up in doing some of the right things instead of doing all of the right things for us.  The single biggest factor in bringing that to our attention was our garden.  It's what prompted me to commit Fridays in October to a blog series that I'm calling Getting Real.  There's so much in my life that's about to get real that this series might outlive the month of October, but that's where I'm starting.  And the first step in getting real, for me, is getting rid of the garden.

Good people garden, right?  Most of the people I love have gorgeous, lush gardens with bounteous harvests. And I'm talking all sorts of people from all walks of life.  The good ones garden.  Most of our favorite crunchy hippie friends in Oregon garden.  In fact, take a look at this post that I wrote right after our Oregon road trip.  Where are we hanging out with each of our crunchy Oregonian friends?  In their gardens.  Every single one of them!  Our super conservative, prepared for the second coming sort of friends garden too, because it's how they're going to save their family in the end of days.  That's what good people do.  And of course our gentle, middle of the road friends have degrees in horticulture because they're upstanding citizens and all upstanding citizens love to have their hands int he soil.  Or so I've been told.

Well, this year we had an epiphany.  We don't love gardening.  Like, at all.  We don't like not camping because we have to pull weeds.  We don't like going camping and then feeling awful for not pulling weeds.  We don't like looking at a child that wants to play with us and saying, "We'll try and do something fun later, but right now I've got to pull weeds."  We don't like spending tons of money on raised beds, sprinkling systems and drip irrigation, or veggie starts only to have to buy produce anyway because we live on the worst plot of earth of all times for gardening.    

Not only do all good people garden, but all good people enjoy their garden.  I did not enjoy my garden. This made me feel like the biggest faker, but the only thing worse than being a faker is being a bad person who doesn't garden.  

But after 5 years gardening, I'm done.  Joe's done.  The kids are surprisingly done with gardening.  I'm finally prepared to say that enjoying my time with my family is more important than fighting mother nature and trying to force broccoli to grow from record breakingly infertile soil.  I am willing to admit that I'd rather be in the canyons, in the real wild of nature every weekend with my kids, camping and wading through snow melt streams than pulling weeds.  I know.  I'm a bad person.  And you know what?  I'm going to try to love myself anyway.  

Seriously, though, I feel so much shame over quitting the garden.  I was nervous abut what my friends would think.  Isn't that nuts?  But I made my announcement at a little wet-fetling party I hosted the other day and you know what?  The guests said, "Way to quit it!"  Some even said, "We don't particularly love it either!"  What a relief!  Even my horticulturist friends, the ones who are like the goodest of the good people (not just because they garden, but because they're seriously the kindest, most gentle and charming women you could ever meet), were like Cool.  We still love you. Today a friend said that her husband wants to quit the garden, but they spent so much money putting it in that they feel like they can't.  That was a hang up for us too.  But I've decided that I'm no longer going to commit to things that I don't want to spend time on just because I made the mistake of spending money on them in the first place.  Continuing for that reason would just be another mistake!

This feels like our first step to being really real.  We're looking at our lives and deciding what WE really want.  Turns out that we don't want a giant house or new cars or new phones.  We don't want to dress fancy shmancy. And last night, we decided that even though the kids have worn the shiny finish off the composite leather couches in the front room from playing and wrestling with Joe, we're not going to replace them.  That was huge!  We both looked at each other like, Really?  You're cool with that?  But we love those couches.  They're the ones the kids are allowed to go crazy on.  They're where the action is!  Everyone should be so lucky as to have go-crazy couches and we do!  Why give that up because they're getting ugly?  Then we'd have new couches that we wouldn't want anyone to jump on.  That would be a decision for other people.  We're making decisions for us now and that means the garden goes and the couches stay.  And who knows what else?

I'm still a country girl, though.  The chickens and dogs and cats are staying put because we actually like them.  Maybe we'll do a single garden bed instead of the whole huge side lot.  You know, the kind you can weed and still go camping.  But maybe not.  I'm still going to have my 2 acres, I'm just going to reserve them for utter joy and relaxation.  I'm going to love them rather than curse them.  This is the start of something good.  I can feel it.  

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