I am writing this from the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina in the southeastern region of the United States.
It is gorgeous here in April, with trees covered in white or pink blossoms, masses of yellow forsythia in bloom and flowers of many colors bursting forth in gardens and along the roadsides.
It takes my breath away.
As I allow myself to soak up the beauty all around me, I think about the experience of being a parent. I can’t help it.
Here are some of the messages Spring is whispering to me this year:
1. Allow everything to happen in its own time.
I remember how, in January, we were longing for Spring to come. Looking at the bare trees, I could imagine the blossoms of April and silently urged Spring to hurry.
But the time was not right.
It’s like raising children. There is an inner rhythm, a natural unfolding that cannot be hurried. We can’t force the blossoming.
My grand-daughter just took her first steps. She is 13 months old.
For the last few months, she has been standing and walking around the furniture. The adults in her life have been encouraging her to take those un-supported steps.
She was not ready.
Some things cannot be hurried.
In fact, when we hurry our children, it often slows them down. They become anxious and unsure of themselves, and disconnect from their own inner wisdom.
Is there something that you want your child to do or to become that seems to be taking a long time?
Are you impatient?
This may be the time for you to allow the natural process to unfold in its own time.
Trust the knowing within your child. The same inner guidance that we all have within us is within our children as well.
Allow them to bloom in their own way, in their own time.
2. Appreciate each day for the gifts it brings.
The magnificent beauty of Spring is so fleeting.
Last week, I was enjoying the delicate pink flowers of our weeping cherry tree, branches bending gently toward the earth.
I wanted to stop time and hold on to the beauty of it all, but I knew I couldn’t.
So I took the time to sit and watch the branches dancing gently in the wind. I soaked in as much of the beauty as I could and felt an overwhelming gratitude to be a part of that magic moment.
Now the blossoms have been replaced by tiny green leaves. The moment of magnificence has passed. Too quickly.
Today I have a choice. I can regret the loss of the blossoms. Or I can appreciate the beauty that is before me now. Flowers gave way to leaves, but the tree is still beautiful.
When my children were teenagers, our relationships went through phases.
Some times were magnificent, like a tree in full bloom. We just seemed to click, and my heart overflowed with love and gratitude.
Other days, we had difficult issues to work through, or they seemed withdrawn. I felt very disconnected from them.
It was easy to remember the way they were before, and that left me with a feeling of loss.
I had a choice. I could regret what I had in the moment – or I could find a way to shift my own emotional energy.
I did that by looking for things to appreciate. It worked every time. It took me from disappointment to gratitude.
In what ways do your children blossom?
Do you take the time to be with them and share those moments with them?
What happens when the moment has passed? Can you appreciate your children even on ordinary days, when nothing special is bursting forth – or even when they are out of sorts and taking it out on you?
Can you look past all of that?
Can you see the beauty that is before you today?
Look at your children. Look until you see something that you appreciate.
Take a few minutes to feel your gratitude for the gift that they bring to your life right now. No comparisons with other children. No longing for a different time when things seemed better between you.
Just appreciate the child who is before you today.
3. Plant the seeds and tend the garden:
All around us, tulips and daffodils are springing up in a bright profusion of color.
Some yards are like vibrant paintings. Other yards are like blank canvases. Nothing is blooming.
What does that tell me?
If we want our children to blossom, we need to learn the lessons of the garden.
Flowers do not appear magically. Someone planted the seeds or the bulbs, and the sun and rain work together to draw the plants out of their winter hibernation.
So it is with our children.
What words do you say to your children? How do act when you are with them? These are the seeds that you plant.
What is the emotional atmosphere like in your home? This is the soil in which the seeds will either grow or whither.
Is it warm and life-affirming?
Is it inviting and welcoming, so your children feel, not only safe, but encouraged to express themselves?
If so, then they will blossom before your eyes.