Friday, April 18, 2008

Cultivating Love

I am searching for heartfelt and inspirational stories about mother-daughter relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories from which daughters and moms might derive hope and guidance after reading them.

What did you learn from this unique parent-child relationship, how it has changed over the years, how you two dealt with conflict, etc? The stories can be about good or bad times, as long as the result is something others can learn from. There are no format or length requirements.

For more information about submitting your story, please visit my website, http://www.gregoryelang.com/, and click the red corner on the home page, just beneath the “Projects” tab.

I’m also conducting recorded telephone interviews for those who prefer to tell rather than write their story. Just send me an email with your phone number and dates/times you are available. Interviews typically last 30-45 minutes.

If you’d like to submit a daughter-mom photo to display on this blog, please email it to greg.lang@mindspring.com.

If this is your first visit to my blog, please read the Frequently Asked Questions posted on March 20, 2008.

The deadline for submitting your story or participating in an interview is August 1, 2008.

Now on to today’s post~

Today’s photo was sent to me by a daughter left with sad regrets. Her mom died at age 43 and before the two of them had resolved all their past troubles. The daughter said: “you never know when your mother's last day will be. It shouldn’t be as early as my mom’s was. I wish things would have been different.”

Ladies, if you are looking for a reason to tell your story, consider this – yours may be the one someone on the other side of the country finishes reading and says, “I want a relationship like that. I’m going to make things right.” And then she picks up the phone and calls her daughter or mom while there is still the time and opportunity to do so.

Now let me illustrate how a story may appear in the final book. The following is a draft – it has not been seen by my editor and it may change as I receive other stories that could complement it. This began as one daughter’s recollection of an afternoon working in the garden. After numerous emails in which I asked many questions (Thanks Shelby, for being so patient with me!), this story emerged:

One Saturday afternoon in early spring Shelby stepped outside to plant flowers in the garden. It was time to get the petunias and geraniums in the ground before the heat of summer arrived. Kneeling on the ground and reaching into the dirt to pull out weeds, she smiled at her eight year old daughter who worked willfully beside her.

As they worked together to prepare the flowerbed Shelby remembered the first time Madison had helped her in the garden. Only four years old at the time, wearing her own sun hat and using child-sized garden tools, the little girl sat in the dirt alongside mom and planted seeds. Every spring and fall since then they have worked side by side in the garden keeping seasonal color in their yard and enjoying the time spent together.

On this afternoon, after the weeds had been pulled and the soil loosened, Shelby dug the holes while Madison pulled the flowers from their plastic containers before placing each one in its own hole. Then together they filled in the holes and tamped the dirt down with their hands, chit-chatting nonstop as they worked. When they had planted all the flowers they sat back in the grass to admire their work and then laugh at their dirty hands.

Looking into Madison’s eyes Shelby remembered one warm and sunny Seattle afternoon nearly thirty years ago when her mother had shooed three children out of the house to help her work in the yard. For some time her mom had been planning to install a flower garden in the back yard and thought the task was the perfect activity to keep her small children occupied and out of trouble.

Moaning as they went, the siblings followed their mother into the yard. Shelby pulled weeds and spaded soil and listened with interest as her ever-cheerful mom told stories of her childhood, partly to distract her children from their work, but also, Shelby realized years later, because she so loved spending time with her young family.

One by one Shelby’s brother and sister grew weary of the work and wanted to leave the garden. Realizing it was turning into a hot day and thinking her children had worked long enough, mom said they could go back inside if they wished. Only Shelby remained in the garden, alone with mom and her desire to help finish the planting. They continued to work side by side and talked until nearly sunset. The job finally done, they stood back and admired their work – a circular bed of bright petunias and geraniums.


After the pair put away the tools and washed their dirty hands, mom praised her daughter for working so hard and staying with her until the end. “How can I reward you?” she asked.

All Shelby wanted was more time with her mom. She simply asked for a glass of lemonade and a walk together through the neighborhood. Holding hands and sipping occasionally from large, cold glasses of sweet lemonade, they walked past neighbors’ homes and admired their gardens but laughingly agreed theirs was the prettiest one around. When asked if she was tired Shelby answered no, she didn’t mind the hard work one bit. Mom squeezed her hand and said “Thank you for helping me today.”

Shelby smiled at Madison. “Which flowers do you like the best?” she asked.

“These,” Madison said, pointing to the petunias.

“Me, too!” Shelby responded, reaching out and rubbing her daughter’s knee. “Now let’s go wash up and have ourselves some lemonade.” She stood and taking Madison’s hand, led her toward the house.

“Thank you for helping me today,” Shelby said as they climbed the steps onto the porch, hoping her child would remember mother-daughter moments like these for as long as she would.”

You may ask why is this story well suited for Mom’s Little Angel? First, gardening is a perfect metaphor for building relationships. They must be cultivated to come to full bloom. Second, it is about tradition passed from generation to generation, something women have historically done to bring continuity to families, and third, it is about realizing parenting is as much about simple things and time spent together as anything else. Here petunias and lemonade will always mean more to these women than big parties and loaded shopping bags. In other words, it ain’t the pearl strands, my friends, it’s the heartstrings.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

1 comment:

Jessica Morris said...

cool, I'll check out your website for more info :)
How'd you find my blog?