The Year My Hydrangea Bloomed {And the Unexpected Miracles from Letting Go}

Nothing.

Not a single bloom or bud. Lush greenery, sure. But still empty. For nearly fifteen summers I have watched my Hydrangea remain flowerless. Oh sure, occasionally I did a little research trying to figure out why it Would. Not. Bloom. But still, nothing. A few times I think I sprinkled coffee grounds around the roots. Added Lime to the soil. Over-watered. Under-watered. (Mostly under-watered, if you know me.) All to no avail.

And each year, as the summer came to a close and the hot summer days gave way to fall, I would cut it back with a big heavy sigh. “Why won’t you bloom?”,  I would think.  “Where are your flowers?” All these years… not even one.

And then this past fall, whether in neglect or laziness or weariness, I left it alone. It was the first time in years I didn’t cut it back. “Nothing I do matters anyway– stay the way you are. Fine. Whatever.” {Yes, dear readers, she even has a complicated relationship with her plants. }

I had pretty much given up. I didn’t understand. Every plant around it blooms. All the other flowers are thriving– but not this one.

And so I accepted it. This plant doesn’t bloom. It just…doesn’t.

 


 

Except this year.

It did.

Big, fluffy, full, bright pink flowers.

And it didn’t almost bloom, or barely bloom. My Hydrangea is COVERED in flowers. It’s almost unrecognizable. It’s so lavish and bright and alive. It’s actually bigger and better than ever.

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And it got me thinking about other “Hydrangeas” in my life; Spaces I’ve sort of given up on after exhausting years of trying to force change, trying to control, trying to fit into my idea of the way things should be. Things I actually don’t even hope for or dream about anymore. Things I’ve just painfully come to accept: This is how it is. And certainly, that’s okay; There’s so much peace in the quiet acceptance of how things just are.

I accepted my  flowerless Hydrangea. I wasn’t going to dig it up or get rid of it or replace it. But I still always knew it was SUPPOSED to be flowering and wasn’t. And so all these years later, when I saw those luscious, vibrant blooms, I cried.

And I thought to myself,

We must let life surprise us. We must hold things so loosely and sometimes just let them be. We must graciously let go of things we so desperately want to change and then watch the natural unfolding that happens with our release.

It is not lost on me- the irony. The irony that the year I left it alone– the year I didn’t prune it or search for answers or try to somehow “trick” it into flowering, it did. I had been trying to force it for years and when I finally let it go, it bloomed.

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A Reminder to All the Mamas Everywhere: You Gotta Keep Doing You.

mom in curlers

Lipstick and Mustache

Recently when my youngest daughter had a day off from school, I asked her what she wanted to do and gave her some options~

Me: “We could go to a pumpkin patch or cider mill. Go shopping? To lunch? Is there a movie you want to see?”

Her: “Maybe I’ll go to a movie with a friend.”

Me: Blank stare. Long pause. Hard swallow. Fake smile. “Great! Yes! Great! What a fun idea!”

Me, internally: WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT? Oh? Why, you ask? BECAUSE I THOUGHT MAYBE IT WOULD BE FUN TO DO SOMETHING TOGETHER. Jerk.

Man. I’m not gonna lie. My feelings were hurt big time. But she’s 13. And as much fun as we have together, (although apparently I’m having more fun than she is ) it’s totally normal and appropriate for her to want to spend time with her friends instead of her mom.

Whatever.

But it was a sharp reminder:

Mama needs to keep cultivating her own life.

empty nest

mommyish.com

I’ve got 3 kiddos, two of them technically legal adults already, and Little Miss Smarty Pants.

The nest is getting dangerously close to empty which inspires a guttural, emotional cry of~

They don’t really need me anymore!

(FIST PUMP!)

                      and

  They don’t really need me anymore…

             (TOTAL DESPAIR…)


Nothing is more thrilling than watching your kids grow and develop into these amazing, separate human beings, complete with their own lives and friends and interests.

But nothing is also more desperate and wrenching than realizing your days as Full-Time Mama are dwindling.

{For single moms, I think this can be an even greater challenge. We’re not rekindling a marriage or reconnecting with a partner. It’s us. We’ve got ourselves.And it’s equally exciting and terrifying.}

So Mamas everywhere–this is not new information–But here’s your reminder:

You gotta keep doing you.

There is more to life than the kids. There is more to you than motherhood. And if motherhood has swallowed up the entirety of who you are and completely suffocated who you used to be, please go back and find the girl you were before you had kids.

What did she love? What lit her up?

What made her eyes and heart glow with life and enthusiasm?

What will bring her sexy back??

If you can’t remember, find new things. Join or start a book club. Get back to the gym or find a walking buddy. Take a class. Learn something brand new. Follow any little spark of curiosity burning inside you.

Pink Lemonade Design

Pink Lemonade Design

But do these things NOW, while the birds are still in the nest.

 So when they DO leave (or you know, want to go to the movies with friends instead of you), you already have your jam. You know what you like. You have things to do. You have options.

But doing all of this isn’t just about you. It’s about your kids learning to see you as a whole person, with a whole personality— not as just a one-dimensional Mom character.

Kids should not grow up thinking they are the center of the universe.

Kids should grow up thinking there is a universe that pre-dates them and they are joining in and becoming a part of it.

When my girls watch me follow my own passions and do activities that have nothing to do with them, it frees them to keep pursuing their own interests and hobbies. It silently gives them permission to be themselves and do their own thing.

I never want my kids to feel responsible for my happiness. Their hearts cannot bear the burden of trying to fill something in me that was never meant to be filled by them (or any other person for that matter).

mom on beach

cafemom.com

I remind myself on the daily: Happiness is an inside job. 

My happiness is MY job.

And for now, their happiness is part of my job, too.

But it’s never too early for them to learn how to make THEIR own happiness

THEIR job, as well.


As it turned out, my daughter ended up spending her day off with me. We saw a movie, did a little shopping and a good time was had by all.

In my heart, my first choice will always be to spend time with my kids. But my second choice will always be me. So that when they come to me and say, “I’ve already got plans. Do you mind?”

I’ll smile and say from the bottom of my heart, “So do I.”