“We can’t control the pace of a flower’s growth... we can fertilize it, water it, give it all the sunshine it needs but in the end, the flower grows on its own timetable,
at its own pace.”
One of the gifts of parenthood is being able to witness the growth of your own offspring…moving from childhood to adulthood, with adult-sized dreams and adult-sized issues. And with this shift comes new roles – roles that involve fielding different types of questions and conversations. A frequent topic of discussion between my daughter and I involve relationships, in particular intimate relationships: the why’s, the how’s, the what if’s and the what for’s. At times, our talks are reminiscent of the Gilmore girls*…
On one such occasion, my daughter, Kelsey, and I were exploring the nature of relationships – musing over esoteric questions such as “How do you know if you’re relationship material?” “What is the criteria that should be used to tell you if are or not?” And “How do you know if you are self-sabotaging a relationship versus the relationship is just not working out?”
Great questions indeed! I wish I had answers for her… but I didn’t, for I too wondered about those same things.
Within the same week, my friend Tess called me to talk about the reappearance of her old lover. Initially, she was excited about the renewed communication – everything seemed hopeful.
“It was like old times,” she said, “we just seemed to pick up where we left off. It felt right… we were sharing things about our lives again, you know, like between old friends.”
“But then, the old familiar patterns appeared,” she pauses as she reflects on what to say next.
“It started to happen again - the mixed messages, then the sudden disappearance for periods of time….Uggghh! This is so annoying. Frustrating as hell!” Tess exclaims. She recognizes that she has let herself get wrapped up in the game again.
“I’m more frustrated with myself than I am at her!” she continues, “I began investing way more energy early on, thinking that things would be different THIS time. She seemed really different, like she had grown some… or so I thought. ‘Okay.... let’s try this again,’ I said. I was hoping that the changes were real...but with some people, it doesn’t matter what you do, deep down, they are who they are.”
Well... they are who they want to be.
Both of those situations reminded me about how easily we become attached to our expectations. Expectations about how things are supposed to turn out... how things are supposed to be if we do x, y & z or what can be expected if we don’t. But these expectations become the biggest source of disappointment for us because we believe that we can control the blossoming of our relationships.
But like the gardener who faithfully nurtures and feeds the seeds he has sown, there is no controlling which seed will take root and grow and which will remain enclosed in its shell. We know not how or when the seeds blossom because it is dependent on the individual seed itself to take in the nutrients given.
To its own peril, the seed that is unable to utilize the food provided dies. The seed that takes in the nutrients, still chooses to blossom on its own pace...in either case, the gardener remains steadfast in his nursing, unattached to results but hopeful that what he has done will yield some blossoms... but not all.
And so it is with whatever we do to nurture the relationships in our lives... we should do so without any expectations but rather, be a conscious observer of what is growing and what is not... and be grateful for what does ultimately blossom.
*The Gilmore Girls was an old television show about a single-mom and her adolescent daughter. The series followed their relationship and how the pair support each other through life, including romantic entanglements.