What crocuses can teach you about parenting

Crocuses blooming in snow. Photo credit: The 39 Steeps

Crocuses blooming in snow. Photo credit: The 39 Steeps

You may be thinking one of three things right now.

I love crocuses! I wonder: what can they teach me about parenting?

Oh God, is she about to make a comparison between parenting and the return of Spring? I may gag on this tired metaphor.

What the hell are crocuses?

Here are the answers:

Read on, kindred spirit!

Yes, I am. Metaphors get tired because they’re so busy being useful.

Crocuses are bulbs that flower in early Spring (or, in my town, late Winter, when most everything else is dormant).

So I got an email the other day from a mother of an active toddler. She was in serious distress over the lack of control she feels over her life. Her lovable cyclone of a child has blown away her sense of who she was before she was a mother. The time and attention she used to spend on her relationship with her husband, taking care of herself…gone.

I had no idea having a baby was going to turn out to be like this at all.

The Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes fame.

The Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes fame.

I remember that feeling. Oh, do I remember it. But you know what? I’m not there anymore. My son — who as a toddler I referred to as the “Tasmanian devil” because of the chaos he left in his wake –  is a handsome, strapping young man. A joy to be with, more ballast than storm now.

What I couldn’t have known when he was a toddler, which I know for sure now: the chaos of those early years, while all encompassing, was a season of parenting. A cycle that was meant to come…and go.

What does this have to do with crocuses? Well, here in Portland, the damp, grey winters feel interminable. There comes a time in late January when you think you will never see blue sky, green leaves or a dry sidewalk ever again. Right when you’re about to trade in your entire wardrobe for clothing that’s either waterproof or down-filled, you catch a spark of yellow or purple peeking through the sodden leaves. The crocuses have started blooming.

They’re unassuming, modest little flowers, but they are such a contrast to the colorless landscape that they make a big impression. What amazes me every year is that, as reliable as they are, their return still surprises and delights me.

Crocuses remind me to trust that seasons will and do change. The storms won’t always be swirling. The chaos won’t always envelop everything. You can trust that times of growth and upheaval will inevitably transition into something softer and more flexible. And that toddlers will grow up to be handsome, strapping young men.

If you’re immobilized by a winter storm right now whether in life or in parenting — do what you can to keep warm, stock the pantry, and take care of yourself and those around you. It’s all you can do sometimes. But know in your bones that the weather and the seasons will change.

Asha Dornfest is the co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less and publisher of Parent Hacks, a site crammed with tips for making family life easier.

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