Thursday, April 24, 2008

Delayed gratification

I must like this...that feeling of preparing the soil, nourishing it with garbage that turns into luscious, nutrient-filled food for life...planting my little seeds, lots of them, which other creatures try to dig up and root out...watching the many seedlings come to life regardless...carefully plucking out the uninvited plants to keep the desired ones healthy...giving them lots of food and water to keep them growing, while working hard to keep the pests away that would injure them...giving them support as they grow so they don't fall over and collapse from the weight of all that new growth...until they finally reach their fullest potential.

The first new spring pea, fresh summer tomato, fragrant oregano--that's what I call delayed gratification. But not as delayed as the gratification I got last week...

It's hardly original of me to compare gardening to parenting, but in Spring, just too impossible to resist. Cliches are cliches for a reason...because they speak some truth which we really need to hear and remember.

I'm sure DS' fullest potential has much more room to grow, along with some continued need for nurturing and support, but still, it felt like a milestone.

He's been playing cello since the second grade, and over the years we've watched his frustrations, his nervousness, his stumbles, along with his successes and joy in playing.

Most of the people at this particular concert were probably family of students performing in the orchestra or choir, and between us, we must have logged millions of miles, hours, and money in supporting these musically-talented and hard-working young people. At the end, they got a lengthy standing ovation. It was as though the collective feeling was, "WHEW! My kid made it to perform at Lincoln Center. I am going to enjoy this moment and I am going to stand and applaud for as long as I damn well feel like it."

I don't take credit for the tomato...it had its own inherent "tomato-ness" to reach that has nothing to do with me. Similarly, I don't take credit for the performance. He's the one who practices for hours a day, who's passionate about his art, and who has a work ethic and attitude admired by his teachers and fellow students alike. But supporting a kid in their passion is no doubt a family commitment. So I'll take a little of the credit for preparing the soil, planting the seed, warding off intruders, providing support. And never mind that it took just short of 2 decades...the wait was worth it.

And when I say, "I must like this," it's because the ways in which I choose to spend my time all have this similar feeling. Lots of quiet waiting, interspersed with bursts of fierceness and a constant love. Gardening and parenting yes, but also counseling and teaching college students, community service and activism, knitting, cooking, research, and even yoga and meditation.

There's a lot to be said for patience.

4 comments:

Ann said...

How cool is that? Congratulations to both of you...you for the tending...the boy for the growing. Fantastic!

Jolene said...

Julie, I find this highly inspirational since my young ones are still seedlings and one of them is in his second year of cello (which comes amazingly natural to him). You've reminded me that when patience is in low supply, we need to remember how fast they grow. (and how soon they'll be taller than us!!)
Thank you for sharing this!

Julie said...

I meant to say that...when I look at this picture, I'm STILL shocked to note that he's taller than me!!

Tracy said...

How wonderful! Congrats to your son!
My sons both started on the cello but moved on to other instruments ... I miss the beautiful sound of the cello but I do understand how hard those string instruments are.