Some people say that you should have a pet before you have kids. The thought is that you will become familiar with the intensely high level of responsibility that taking care of another living being requires. You will learn that your pet, like the kids that come after it, comes along with not only cuteness but also with bouts of illness, a need for nurturing, sacrificing, etc. Well, I'd like to approach things slightly differently and in a somewhat backward fashion -- backward in time that is.
Since my daughter has left the nest and seems to be taking wonderful care of herself with, of course, several attempts on my part to always remain important and necessary, I have noticed that I have become a bit motherly with my plants. I know exactly what it is like to be motherly because I have been in the parenting game for over 20 years. So let's take a look at how parenting and raising houseplants are similar and let's see what you think.
1. When the plants are babies they are simply adorable and it is so much fun to find the perfect pots for them. This is very similar to dressing a baby in the cutest little outfit.
2. Baby plants require lots of attention to whether or not their soil is wet or dry just like a baby's diaper.
3. Plants like babies require feedings and you need to learn what schedule works best for them. Whereas my snake plant likes water every two weeks, my ficus seems to like weekly waterings and being sprayed on an almost daily basis. Some babies are on an every four hour feeding schedule whereas others have different schedules.
4. Kids cry, get quiet or even upset when they are distressed. Similarly, my plants wilt. Their formerly beautifully colored and richly saturated leaves become brown and sometimes even crumble.
5. With plants it takes a lot of trial and error to find out why they are not thriving. Sometimes they are getting too much sun and are getting sunburned while others are just too cold and need to be placed in a new location. Kids of all ages also need lots of attention to detail when they appear to be going through a rough patch. Every good parent has tried this and that and more of this and more of that to see their kids flourish again.
6. Sometimes plants just don't respond well to so many attempts at revitalization and you just have to chill out and learn the mantra "less is more." The same is true with kids particularly with teens who tend to talk less when you start asking them too many questions; right?
7. Sometimes your plants surprise you with a new flower and you see the fruits of your labor when you were least expecting it. If you pay careful enough attention to your kids they too will surprise you with little gifts.
8. Your plants require different amounts of sunshine, water, etc. depending on the stages of their life and the time of year just like your kids require varying amounts of this or that throughout their younger years and their teen years. Sometimes it will be easy to figure things out and other times it will be quite trying.
9. We all turn to books and other people who have experience with kids when we are trying to figure out the right thing to do. Similarly, we turn to plant books and friends when that orchid just won't thrive. Listen. I've gotten at least five different and contradictory pieces of advice about how frequently to water an orchid. Yikes.
10. We invest a lot in our indoor gardens just like we invest a lot in our offspring. In both cases we hope that our sweethearts will thrive and flourish and won't have to experience too much distress.
How does your garden grow?
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