Gardening is an excellent way to use Mother Nature in a way that allows you to contemplate the meaning of life, work out frustrations, and keep from killing members of your family.
In fact, whenever I see a mother trying to tame her toddler's tantrum or talking to a teenager that keeps saying, "Whatever" while rolling her eyes, I think, "That mom should go straight home, pick up a hoe, and start weeding her flower beds."
I know what you're thinking: "Yard work? Really? Yard work is hard and dangerous; couldn't I just take some Valium?"
I recognize that most of us would rather not do yard work and will come up with hundreds of excuses not to do it – it‟s too hot outside, it's too wet outside, it's outside. This avoidance behavior is not unique; in fact it‟s been bred into humans for millions of years. Even the cavemen would put off doing yard work. If a cavewoman asked her caveman husband to go out and mow the lawn, he‟d come up with some excuse about not having invented tools yet or the high weeds helped hide the cave family from the dinosaurs, then went to lay down for his Saturday afternoon nap.
But, here we are in the 21st century all "civilized" and everything, so I say, "suck it up!!! Quit complaining like a little girly-mom, pick up the pruner, go outside, and get your fingernails dirty! With every whack you deliver to those unruly vines, you‟ll feel frustration begin to seep from your body. I know this from personal experience.
I first discovered the calming effect of whacking weeds after a particularly grueling morning of parenting. I‟ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say it involved tantrums, sibling rivalry, flying food, and throwing up. I‟ll just let you guess which action came from the kids, and which came from me.
Anyway, after restoring some semblance of order in the house and sending everyone (including the cats and dogs) into time out, I found that I was still feeling a little jangly. I knew I needed to burn off some steam before something very bad happened. I tried dusting, but smearing Pledge and rubbing it to a shine just wasn‟t doing it. In fact, it seemed to make matters worse, because I could see my contorted face in the shine of my end table, and it wasn‟t pretty.
So, I went to get the mop from the garage and saw the chainsaw. It spoke to me. "Let me help you work out your aggressions," it seemed to be saying. I filled it with gas and oil, pulled the rope to start 'er up, and went to work in the back yard. The dead Christmas tree we planted at least 15 years ago – gone! The birch trees that hadn‟t had anything green on them for years – out! The indistinguishable trunks that had no leaves, flowers, or any sign of life – chopped! I felt strong; I felt in control; I felt at peace with the world with that buzzing chainsaw in my hands.
And, as I looked at the piles of dead tree limbs and trunks, I knew it was safe to go back into the house. Life was good again; my children were the light of my life again; and I was ready to be Mom again. It took me a little while to find them as they were crouched under the bed waiting for me to put down the chainsaw; but it was a warm, fuzzy family moment – all thanks to a little yard work.