It’s the time of spring that breaks my heart. One day it’s short sleeves and riding bikes, chasing my kids through green grass and basking in new sunshine. The next it’s buffeting ourselves against wind, forced back inside to look forlornly at the budding trees as they’re gently blanketed by snow.
It was this disparity in the upcoming forecast that drove us to the nursery on a brilliant mid-April day, with a goal to capture spring and bring it indoors.
We chose three succulents: a furry, palm-tree-esque beauty; a prickly cactus covered in fine webbing; and a long, arched plant with soft, flat leaves. I love the look of brown terracotta against succulents, so we selected three small planters, with plans to dress them up back at home.
Our visit to the greenhouse was filled with sun-soaked heat and the giddy feeling that summer had actually arrived in the Midwest. My kids were thrilled. My 5-year old gasped adoringly at each flowering plant she saw. She gently rubbed the leaves of the shiny leaves, ooh-ed over the plants covered in fuzz, and helped me choose our plants. It sounds like pure bliss, doesn’t it? Just an Instagram-worthy outing to the local nursery. But that IG snapshot wouldn’t include the challenges of the morning: how my 2-year old kept dashing away from me, trying to run into the employee entrance, hiding behind large plants, jumping in puddles, and reaching his chubby hands to grab at plant blossoms.
Here’s what I embraced: the puddle-jumping, the playfulness between fronds. What I couldn’t embrace: the running, the not listening. (I ended up putting back the blue petunia we chose so we could instead purchase the red geranium he’d stripped of petals before I could stop him.)
I think the important thing in a frustrating parenting moment like this is to do our best to keep the ship steady by steering our kids, rolling with what we can, and to keep moving forward, creating space for conversation and a righting of the ship once the high tension moment has passed. And so we did, hurrying home for lunch and a happier afternoon.
During his nap time, my daughter and I sunk into our craft. We rifled through my containers of craft supplies to find the perfect complements to our sweet plants, coming up with pink paint, black puffy paint, and fluffy pink and red pom-poms. A little painter’s tape and hot glue with a Joni Mitchell record in the background and our peaceful, sunny afternoon was complete.
I planted the succulents later that evening, with my toddler by my side, happily digging in dirt piles with his tiny gardening gloves and miniature shovel. The project may not have gone as perfectly as I’d hoped, but just like spring, it was full of surprises: some lovely, some challenging. Our cheerful little plants now adorn our kitchen table, a bright spot of green and grace to hold us over as the sunshine deepens.