black and white drawing of a farm

I’m a pondering parent this morning.  I know I’m not the first, last, or wisest person to conjure the notion that parenting is akin to farming but it’s on my mind just the same.

The most maddening thing for me, the woman who likes results and task completion, was the delayed and slow simmer of parenting payoffs.  Like tending crops?  Maybe.  Planting those seeds, hoping for a good yield, and praying for a hearty root system to sustain the burgeoning growth, especially in harsh and unpredictable conditions.  Pushing myself to believe in growth that I couldn’t yet see, much less celebrate?  A challenge. One that required all the scaffolding of trust and faith I could muster, often in the form of commiseration with equally stressed-out parenting friends, tending to their own ‘fields’, day in and day out.

My gratitude moment this morning took me to this reflective place because I remember.  I remember feeling the shaky sense of parenting doom. I’ve done it wrong…I’ve messed her up…followed by fear. Fear that my missteps, oversights, overreactions, or indifference – all of the things that parents-as-humans struggle with daily – would render dear daughter as less than in some way.   

I still have an occasional stress dream about a slice of parenting life where I wish I’d done better.  Those persistent what-ifs. (Maybe I should surrender and submit now – to some convoluted research study about women with errant, overrun, obsessive minds? 😉)

Seeking slumber, last night I received a ricochet recollection instead. About farming.  It came in hazy-like at first, appearing in the form of a slideshow…scenes from a trip to reclusive Aunt Bea’s farm when I was a kid.

Aunt Bea was a hellion for rebellion, one of the outcasts in the family.  I suspect she was ostracized because she was one of the few elders in mom’s life who put up with zero bullshit.  No guff from this rough-around-the-edges tough gal, Aunt Bea. 

I remember being mesmerized by her plain-spoken shutdowns, pointedly directed at Sue – my mom.  The recall episode last night was a moment – just a moment – when Aunt Bea pulled mom aside in a bean field.  I think Aunt Bea knew we were coming, but it didn’t deter her from sticking to her routine as she moved with purpose, tending to farming chores before breaking for ‘supper’ (lunch).  Mom was haughty and bossy toward Aunt Bea, frustrated that she wasn’t ready to receive us, lamenting that ‘poor Lisa’ (my disabled sister) needed to eat, stick to her schedule.

Wiping her brow with a dirty rag, Aunt Bea said something along the lines of, “Sue, you better toughen up and knock off the attitude.  Parenting is hard, it’s like tilling crops and pulling weeds – it’s not for the drama queens and the faint-hearted.  Right now, you’re both.  If you think Lisa is hungry, go make her a snack or shut up and get to work, right here” as she motioned toward a garden bed, overrun with weeds.

This time traveling stuff when I should be sleeping stinks, but the memory of Aunt Bea shutting down Sue? It was a memory with a message, and it prompted delight.  A highlight reel that woke me up, but I didn’t mind.

Aunt Bea’s been dead for years and I hadn’t thought about her…forever…but the memory of her showdown with mom was a good one.  And her message, “parenting is hard, it’s not for drama queens” wasn’t exactly the comfort I sought, but I took it anyhow, with a grin and gratitude.  Thank you, Aunt Bea.

Despite misgivings about my performance as a parent, I’m amazed by the talented human our dear daughter has become. She is fundamentally kind but more than that – I see her as someone who either innately, or through learned experience, knows to receive people as they are.  An openness about differences which I see her utilizing in every aspect of her life. She is, as my dad would say, ‘good people’.  Right-o.  Very little else matters, including my obsessive rewinds about my parenting performance and guest appearances from crochety, but wise, old Aunt Bea.

And so…parenting = farming?  Maybe so. The growing season is long and while the cloudy days may preoccupy my mind, it’s good to remember they’re mixed with sunny days of delight and love.  Today is one of those days.

-Vicki ❤

20 thoughts on “Aunt Bea’s Wit and Wisdom

  1. I love that line. Next time I face a tough parenting or life decision, I’ll remind myself that “parenting is hard, it’s not for drama queen.” I say it too in a matter of fact way. “Shut up Brian, make your decision and move on, there’s work to be done.” Ha, ha. I have a few relatives, not unlike Aunt Bea. I appreciate the reminder. A great way to start the weekend. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh boy do I appreciate this post – especially as I’m just in the early stages of planting and it’s hard to see what will grow. So you reminder that parenting is hard for all of us and to cut out the drama is both apt and comforting. Love Aunt Bea — and you for sharing that story!

    And just the fact that you still worry about your possible parenting missteps says a lot to me about the kind of parent you are. No wonder DD is amazing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this, Vicki! Enjoyed the Aunt Bea story, and hearing how she had the chutzpah to say what she thought. And also, about your DD. Sounds like she’s a chip off the old block. 🤍

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I find it hard to go back to sleep when I have thoughts in the middle of the night that seem in my half awake state to be worthy of being noted as least so I can review them in the daylight. Aunt Bea struck a chord with you, we all appreciate honesty and strength. Your Aunt Bea was quite different from the most famous Aunt Bea – The Andy Griffith Show actor.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. David! Thank you for your comment, generally, and for the fun Mayberry reference to the only other “Aunt Bea” I know of. Oh how I loved the Andy Griffith show. And you’re right – THAT Aunt Bea was quite a different personality compared to my Aunt Bea! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I, too, find middle-of-the-night thoughts to be hard to shake off… especially in the middle of the night. They are often different in the light of day.

      I once read that farming is a profession of hope. I wonder if that’s another similarity with parenting?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This piece is 100% parenting relatable. When my kids were growing up I used to think parenting was more or less over when they became adults. That turned out not to be totally true. Now, with kids in their early 20’s, in addition to second guessing our parenting performance, we now sometimes find ourselves looking for tactful yet effective ways to advise/teach/help our adults without them feeling like less than adults.

    I also enjoyed the alliteration and subtle rhymes of this piece 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Todd! I think we’re in the same parenting boat! You said what I couldn’t eek out in a straightforward way — that even when the ‘kids’ are in their 20’s (or older) we still want to help without making them feel less-than. Wowza…yes. Support without guiding TOO much. Big smiles to you! 😉😉😉

      Liked by 1 person

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