Was I Raising Children or Flowers?

“Was I Raising Children or Flowers?” Ensign, September 2014, 79

Was I Raising Children or Flowers?

Paula Schulte, Missouri, USA

Latter-Day Saint Voices

When our children were young, we moved into a small house with a beautiful yard. On either side of the front door were two empty flowerbeds, and though my gardening experience was limited, I was excited to plant flowers there. I bought a gardening book and ordered plant and seed catalogs and studied them carefully.

Over the next few months I planned my garden, prepared the soil, and planted more than 200 bulbs. I knew it would be a few more months before I would see any results, but still I checked the garden often for growth. In early spring my flowers started to bloom, beginning with tiny purple irises and then daffodils. By the middle of spring my flower boxes were filled with a splendid display of tulips. I loved my garden, and I often sat on the front steps just to look at the flowers.

One afternoon our four-year-old daughter, Emily, had a friend over to play. Just before her friend’s mother came to pick her up, the girls struggled in through the kitchen door, their arms filled with heaps of tulips. “Look what we’ve brought you,” they said happily. They had picked nearly every bloom.

Tulips bloom only once a year. I was heartbroken—all that work, all that waiting. We filled my vases with flowers and sent the rest home with Emily’s friend. Later, as I complained to my mother about the disaster, she said, “Well, it’s a good thing you’re raising children and not flowers.”

I realized that I needed to change my perspective. I remembered the Primary song I had sung with my girls about gathering flowers:

Dear mother, all flowers remind me of you.

O mother, I give you my love with each flower.1

I saw the ruin of my garden, but two four-year-old girls saw a gesture of love.

Planting a flower garden had required patience, and stepping back and looking at this incident through my child’s eyes required even more patience. But learning patience as a mother draws me closer to the Lord.