I went home to Joplin, Missouri to surprise my mom for Mother’s Day. To add to the surprise, my Ancestry.com results came back on the same day I traveled home. I couldn’t wait to share them with my family.
When I come home, I often upset the cart of routine that my sister Jules works so hard to keep in place for my parents. I know I bring smiles and hugs and I'm a sweet change of scenery, but I also know my homecoming causes a bit of undoing to their systems.
My sister and I are complete opposites. She’s neat and tidy, I’m a little more laid back with my housekeeping. Jules is always on time (which means she’s early.) I’ve actually stopped being late, but I will skid in just as the clock strikes. (Which I realize kind of qualifies as late.)
I’m happiest at the gym in a dance class or at some crazy art exhibit, and Jules is happier reading a book or studying foreign languages. I’m a quote-unquote creative, and really dreamy. Jules is really pragmatic and an academic. Our mom and dad joke that they’re not sure we’re both their kids.
When I come home, my sister assigns me tasks and projects to do with our parents. One of those projects was planting tomatoes with our dad, Sam. I’ve shared so much about our little farm and amazing garden from my childhood. If you recall, that childhood garden was never quite amazing, it was actually a bed of chores.
The greatest thing about getting older is the wisdom and perspective that comes with aging. As an adult, I realize having a garden was a luxury. That patch of land was never the swimming pool my sister and I wanted, but looking back, we harvested so many delicious meals and memories. Even without a swimming pool we still got sunburns and had wet afternoons of running through the sprinklers.
So last week my dad and I had a precious afternoon of planting tomato seeds. (My dad, like Oprah, insists that the Pink Brandywine tomato is the best.) We opened up the little seed packet and I couldn’t believe how tiny they were and how few seeds were actually supplied. It was really just a little packet of faith.
Faith that they actually were Pink Brandywine seeds. Faith that there were sweet and juicy tomatoes miraculously packed inside the teeny little seeds. Faith that the sun would shine and the seeds would grow. Faith that our watering and weeding efforts would reward us with healthy tomato plants. Faith that the bugs that surely would come wouldn’t kill those plants.
My dad and I had a great afternoon revisiting the gardening of our past. He truly is happiest when he’s outside. Our project made me think about the Ancestry.com kit my sister gave me for my birthday.
Who are the folks that planted seeds long ago that would grow into our grandparents? And then who planted seeds that would grow into our parents? And then how did my sister and I grow from the seeds our parents planted? It’s all one big fat miracle!
Parenting and gardening are similar. You do your best and hope it all turns out okay, but there are no guarantees. Both of these noble tasks are acts of risk and faith.
You provide a safe and nurturing place for them to blossom. You water and weed, try to shower them with sunlight, and try to keep away the bugs. And hopefully everybody grows big and strong and ripens to their full potential.
As different as Jules and I are, our seeds continue to bloom into our own special blend of The Sisters Adams. We may not be mothers, but there are plenty of special kids in our lives that we love. And our parents’ gifts of generosity, hard work ethics, can-do attitudes, and a love of learning show up in nearly everything my sister and I do.
Despite the results, we made up for it at our Mother’s Day dinner with authentic stacked enchiladas like our Grandmother Rose always made. We also love a rolled enchilada but the stacked ones remind us of family. My sister found this recipe in the paper and saved it for our special feast. With a little improvisation, it was perfect!