confessions of a weed grower

{greta, two coves community garden}

I have a confession to make. My garden is a stage 4 disaster zone. Somewhere between writing this article for Mothering Magazine about gardening with babes, and picking our first radish, Greta outgrew the Moby wrap, started exerting her desire to be on the constant move, adamantly opposing any activity relating to riding against my chest while I pulled weeds. She's riding the fine line between barely sitting and crawling, a girl almost on the move with no time anymore for the sweet sway of my movements lulling her to sleep. 

Earlier, when she was, I eagerly planted rows of strawberries, lettuces and kale, spinach, radishes, and for good measure, a haphazard sprinkling of of Save the Bees flower mix. That was fairly easy, with 5-month-old Greta in her pouch, her arms yet too small and tucked into my chest to cause a wake.

Recently, we were away from the garden for almost two weeks and when we returned and I saw the mess that had become of it, my heart sank. That night Andras saw sadness in my eyes that I couldn't explain. This place of peace and perfection in my former life was now overgrown with weeds. I felt like I was looking upon a home I had built with my own two hands, now abandoned. 

In that moment in the garden, I learned two of life's harder parenting lessons. First, as a mamma, you have less time, which at times makes it imperative to weed out the unnecessary. Maybe its too much to run a business, rebuild a house, cook our meals from scratch and grow our own food in cultivated rows. Maybe instead of growing eight varieties of tomatoes and seven kinds of lettuces, one or two would do.

Second, this is the beginning of me learning to live with imperfection, in the garden and elsewhere. To embrace the chaos, and watch this garden become an environment for Greta's enjoyment and learning, not mine. 

Now that she's sitting and crawling, I can sit curious Greta amongst the wild flowers (indistinguishable from either the edibles or weeds) and let her pull and touch whatever she wishes. It's not perfect, but our girl knows the smell of fresh mint and lavender. She knows the taste of a strawberry we grew ourselves, and of carrot puree made from scratch (even if it took a near-epic excavation to find those carrots beneath it all!)

We won't have a tremendous amount of food from our garden this year. It's is no longer a place of accomplishment, but humility. Of forgiveness. Of letting go. It's a place for a new kind of peace--probably a more lasting one --the peace of excepting life just as it is, and seeing the beauty in every imperfect detail. 

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.