I’ve always loved the month of May. Not only is it my birthday month, May is also the time for digging in the dirt, planting window boxes, and hanging baskets. May is green grass and leafy trees and lily of the valley and impatiens and pansies and begonias.
When I was a young mother, my husband and I purchased our first home. My birthday gift one year was a pink dogwood tree, and we planted it in our otherwise barren front yard. We were not gardeners my husband and I, but we did the best we could, following the advice of the nursery. After several weeks, the poor tree looked bedraggled. Something was wrong, but we had no idea what to do. A neighbor stopped by to see if he could help. An avid gardener, he saw the problem immediately. We had over watered, and the solution, he said, was to dig up the little tree and dry it out. We propped it up against the garage, and watched and waited. After about a week, our neighbor proclaimed that it was time to replant. He improved the soil by adding fertilizer, cleared away debris, and declared that the dogwood would thrive. He was right. Forty-four years later that tree is still blooming. My son, who was a baby when we moved into that house, drove by the old homestead last weekend and texted me a photo of the front yard with the tree in full flower.
I wonder how often I have “over watered” –given too much guidance, too much direction, too much counsel. How much better that dogwood tree fared after a bit of benign neglect, after having time to dry out and start over again. We owe our children the opportunity to grow where they are planted, to bloom in the sun that they find for themselves, to experience the joy of independence.