“Can I fold your laundry?” my mother-in-law asks. “That would be wonderful,” I reply. It’s nice not to have to do this routine chore myself, and I realize that it gives her a purpose and helps her to feel needed. My mother-in-law has recently moved in with us and we are all finding new daily patterns.
At the same time as I’m thanking her for folding the laundry, however, I’m remembering a time when I was a young mother and was not gracious about her help. I’d entered the bedroom to find my mother-in-law folding laundry and I snapped at her that I could do it…please leave it alone! Did I take her help as a comment about my abilities as a housekeeper and mother? Maybe. I know that I felt that I needed to stake out my territory in some way. My house, my laundry.
I hear people say that they would only return to youth if they could take their current wisdom with them. Yes, this resonates with me. But as I look back at my 30-something self I say to her, and to any young women who might be reading this, relax and let your in-laws help. Somehow I can be understanding about my youthful defensiveness – I was doing my best at that time. It is impossible to have any perspective on the landscape of life if you’ve only traveled a short way down the road.
As gardeners we learn what we can grow and what we can’t. We see which plants were a mistake for our gardens and the environment. That burning bush we loved twenty years ago? Invasive. That goose-neck loosestrife? Such a thug that I won’t plant that again.
It’s good that we can look at past gardens and see that we might have planted more wisely… but even better when we can move on and plant more astutely now.