In April, my husband and I moved into a new home. To my delight, the existing landscaping is simple and consists of a couple spots with shrubs and low maintenance flowers and one raised bed next to the driveway with two blueberry bushes. I can handle this, I thought when we moved in. To say I don’t have a green thumb is an understatement. I have killed nearly every plant, indoor or out, that I have ever been responsible for in my life, with one exception. A Fica tree that I bought when my husband and I moved in together at the young age of 23 and have somehow managed to keep alive nearly 17 years. “Keep alive” is a term I use loosely considering that it had about 5 leaves left on it when me moved in April. My father in law has been caring for it while we transitioned. He still has it and has since transformed it into a Fica tree of epic proportions. It’s so full and lush he decorated it for the holidays. I didn’t even know that it could look that good.
As resistant as I was to doing any yard work after the chaos of moving, I did clear the bed with the blueberry bushes of weeds and water them. Time passed and I got the house settled, summer started to come and we focused on having fun and recovering from a busy year. I would look at those blueberry bushes once in a while and think, I should probably do something for those, like feed them. Then it would rain and I would know that they were all set for a while longer. Eventually I forgot about them.
Then one late afternoon, as my husband and I pulled out of our driveway headed out to meet friends, those blueberry bushes caught my eye, and they did not look good. I stopped the car and stared at them for a moment, brown branches and leaves shriveled up from lack of water, and I started to feel bad. I let them die. I didn’t make time to take care of them and I killed them. I have killed another plant. I let myself feel inadequate as I sat there staring, because I am a woman and should be able to garden and keep things alive. “I did it again”, I said out loud to my husband. “I killed those damn blueberry bushes. What is wrong with me that I can’t keep a plant alive? I don’t have a nurturing bone in my body”. Without hesitation my husband replied, “You’re a warrior baby not a nurturer. Leave the gardening to someone else”.
What a revelation. I’m a warrior, not a nurturer.
As I let this statement roll around in my head I realized how true it was. I also realized that it’s perfectly acceptable. I have never been a woman who feels fulfilled and joyful from caring for and nurturing living things. It’s easy to feel badly about that because it goes against everything our culture pressures us to be as women. It’s easy to turn that fact into something that could make me feel less than worthy.
My husband’s simple statement reminded me to focus on what I am instead of what I am not, and let that be okay. To let that be good enough. I’m a warrior. I connect with and help and care for living things in a different way than natural nurturers do. It doesn’t make me any less of a woman and it certainly doesn’t reduce my worth.
What are the pieces of yourself that instead of feeling ashamed of, you need to do the work to embrace? If you don’t like something about yourself, you can change it and if you don’t want to do the work to change it than accept that it isn’t important enough to you to commit the time.
Join me on the island of embracing who you are. It’s lovely here, even with all the dead plants.