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How Gardening Is Like Giving Birth

It’s been said that women who give birth without the use of medications or medical intervention, months later do not recall the physical pain as being significant. Compared to women who are medically treated during the course of labor, these women seem to forget the physical pain because the experience it foreshadows overcomes it.

I was looking at my yard a couple weeks ago (before I started to till), and felt completely overwhelmed. The task ahead seemed so daunting. And I felt like a real failure for having such a mess of a yard. It really surprised me because I’m not that kind of a gardener. I don’t build a garden to impress the people that walk by. I don’t build a garden to be able to call myself a gardener. I have gone years with my front yard utterly neglected, and last year with a gray container smack dab in the middle so that container would get the best sun. It’s really not about winning any prize roses for me. But I have started to think differently about an aesthetic community. I’m starting to appreciate more the little things people do with their yards or gardens or planter containers to give the eye, a stranger’s eye, a little diversion. So I was feeling pretty glum looking out at this quite unsightly front plot of mine.

Then I started to dig. Digging in the dirt is like kneading dough. You put your whole body into it, in a way, and some part of you goes into the dirt, goes into the dough. Then there’s release. The earth is a great place to put your anxieties and insecurities. It can take it. Likewise, a lot of doughs just get better the more you put into it. Bread, when it’s done and done right, can be divine. A garden, with just a little bit of effort and release, is unparalleled beauty. I have a lot of labor ahead of me, but I think I’m already past the pain.

NOTE: Try to take before and after pictures. Often, it can seem daunting. When you really feel like whatever you’re working with is never going to be good enough for an “after” picture, is precisely when you will most appreciate that you took the time to take the “before” picture. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

QUESTION: What are the most dramatic before/after experiences you recall? Go ahead … gimme the dirt!

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