I was warned that it would happen. Once I started working outside the house, my garden would suffer. The blog would suffer. I just wouldn't have the time to deal with these 'hobbies' anymore.
|Some kind of wilt has decimated the pumpkins and squash.|
I had found a milk-water remedy that I was going to try,
but I just haven't found the time to rescue my plants.
The warnings ended up coming true. But I really didn't realized how much I would neglect my garden.
Let me back up a little. A few weeks ago, I took the plunge. After twelve years of working for myself, I got an outside-of-the-house job. It was a huge step for me, one that I knew would be coming but that I didn't know exactly how to prepare for. I had job-hunted all summer, went on interviews, terrified, feeling completely out of practice in the 'real, grown-up' world. I landed a position. The terror and the nerves intensified, because I am utterly resistant to change of any kind. I still tended the garden, but my mind started to feel very preoccupied and unfocused.
Now that I've started the job, my time is sucked up and my mind is sucked dry. I didn't feel like I had a ton of time before I got the job; I may have been at home, but I wasn't a stay-at-home-mom in the strictest sense. I always had lots of other kids in the house because I've run a daycare in our home for the past 12 years. My daycare was my life, my passion; the days were filled with activities, runs in my big van to pick up preschoolers and school-agers, snacks, meals, playtime, cleanup, outside time and field trips. I had my daycare program set up with great structure and our days were always a controlled chaos, a whirlwind. It was SO busy! I figured that once I started working, I'd come home with lots of energy; refreshed and missing my house, missing the garden, ready to spend a couple hours gardening and blogging. I'd start a lovely, quiet evening ritual--a longed-for ritual that most definitely has NOT happened.
|Glorious Red Chinese Noodle beans.|
All of them unharvested, past their prime.
At least I'll be able to save some seed for next year.
I don't come home ready to garden. I come home exhausted. My brain is full. My body is sore. My new job as an assistant at an elementary school is more challenging than I thought it would be. I have had to adjust to a whole new world of clocks and schedules-- routines I no longer get to make myself. All those years that my husband told me I was so lucky to be my own boss? I know now how he must have envied my ability to run the day however I saw fit. Which included all those glorious hours I got to spend in the garden with my daycare kids. We planted, weeded, harvested, snapped photos, relaxed, enjoyed. Even if it was only a 10-minute break from our normal planned learning and play activities, we worked gardening into our day and had a fantastic time doing it. The garden responded by thriving (usually) and looking, well, happy.
The garden doesn't look so happy anymore.
|Somewhere in that weedy, messy south bed is a garden.|
Look closer, and you'll find dozens of tomatoes,
rotting on their vines. Unpicked. Sad.
I come home most afternoons now and instead of tending the veggies, I veg inside. It doesn't help that it's been unbearably hot the past couple weeks. It seems I've lost the magic I once had for enticing my sons to venture out with me--instead of tromping out to garden, we are more likely to lay around inside reading, watching TV, or just doing nothing. By the time I might be somewhat inclined to go and take a look at my garden, or open the laptop to write on the blog, it's time for homework, supper, and bedtime rituals, That fleeting moment of motivation, lost for another day. Usually about the time I'm brushing my teeth, after everyone else has been settled and tucked in, I have a moment of panic--'another whole day, gone! I will have to get up and do the whole working routine again in the morning, and nothing is done!' I've always worked, HARD. But this is different, this leaving-the-house thing. Leaving my gardens alone all day. I adore the challenges of my new job (I still get to be with kids and my heart is just as full as ever), and I know I'm on the path I need to be on. But my absence from home each day is showing.
|Pests, having a heyday, completely un-dealt with.|
They are loving my inattention to the garden!
In time maybe I will adjust to a new way of life--this working life--and I will find the motivation I need to keep up with it all. It's been three and a half weeks into the job and I am just now starting to feel like I have a little something left each evening. Well, not always. But sometimes. In the meantime, my garden has wilted under the complete neglect. The biggest problem? Veggies that need harvested and instead go unpicked, and then go past the point of edibility. That is where I feel the most shame.
The green beans just keep coming, ready to grow and be picked continually, not noticing my disappearance. There are a few harvests yet to come; the carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatillos. They whisper silent promises; "We are still here. Tend to us, there is still time!" There is also the exciting prospect of the cold-weather crops and the hoop houses I planned for last spring.
|This bed still looks lush. A happy bee nestles in a marigold.|
Peppers and sweet potatoes grow happily without me.
I remember when people who worked outside the home told me they simply didn't have time to garden, and I never fully believed them. I thought maybe it just wasn't important enough for them to prioritize their time. However, now that I'm gone most of the day, and now that the hours I am home, I need to tend to all the normal family-and-kids-stuff, time is severely lacking. If I can figure out a way to prioritize the garden, especially during the weekends (which seem to be just as busy as weekdays), then I may be able to figure out the trick.
There IS a way to grow food while working outside of the home. I know there is a way, because many people are doing just that. I vow to figure it out; I am up for the challenge. Garden, hold on! I have not forgotten you.